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contents Vol.19, No. 4
COVER STORY KEEP THE FAITH An inspirational travel planner
Plunging into the Religious Market by kevin wright
The Glories of Israel
Sunny Cyprus by john kloster
World Religious Travel Expo
SOUTH Arkansas Treasures
MIDWEST Trailblazing in Missouri by randy mink
Chicago Girlfriend Getaways by brittany schmidt
NORTHEAST Girlfriend Fun, Pennsylvania Style
by melinda hughey
WEST Striking It Rich on Tribal Lands by jack dwyer
On My Mind
by jeff gayduk
On Tour by marty de souto
by lisa kasanicky
DEPARTMENTS 12 On The Record
On Girlfriend Getaways On Technology by john kamm ON THE COVER: Agios Iraklidios Convent, Lefkosia, Cyprus Photo courtesy of Cyprus Tourism Organization
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NEWS AS IT HAPPENS • PERSPECTIVE • TOOLS
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Swinging for Singles
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ammy Weiler turned a storefront retail travel agency into the leading singles-only group travel operation in the country. Learn how she developed this lucrative niche business in this exclusive interview. Also online: Fundraising for Cruises and More Missouri Travel Tips.
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Limmat river, Zürich
Switzerland’s Heritage. www.reformationtours.com
Geneva, home to deep Calvinist
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on my mind ❖
Get Onboard – High Speed Rail is Good for the Industry There’s been a loT of chatter about the massive spending bill that will create 10 high speed rail corridors in the United states, some of it coming from proponents of the bus industry who think it’s a bad idea. While we can debate seven ways to sunday the effects of a massive spending bill in recessionary times, what’s done is done and it’s time that we embrace high speed rail as a future savior for U.s. tourism.
fly it, sure? Would I want to with 2 kids, luggage ($25 a bag) and the hassle of getting to an airport, checking in, waiting, waiting, flying into a remote airport, renting a car and navigating my way to a hotel.…no thanks. as an industry, we spend so much energy trying to convince customers that a bus isn’t herpes and motorcoach travel can be fun. That doesn’t stop people from feeling confined, regimented and, frankly, old. after all, it was our
If executed properly, this program will become the legacy of this generation. europe, Japan and now China have all invested heavily in creating high speed rail links, and it’s generally thought to be the preferred method of travel in these destinations among tourists. I first experienced high speed rail while traveling through France on a family trip. It was magical. speeding through the countryside at 150 kilometers per hour, bordeaux in one hand, full-house (jacks over 8’s) in the other, I became the newest member of the “there’s no better way to travel than this” club. looking at our crumbling rail infrastructure, I’ve often said, “Why can’t we do that?” how amazing would it be to board a train in Chicago in the morning and catch the Tigers vs. sox game that afternoon? or zip down to st. louis to see the Cardinals hammer the Cubs? What would take 2-3 hours on a train takes 5-6 to drive. Could I 6 August 2009
parents’ generation that took bus tours. rail travel done correctly allows people the freedom of movement, independence and nostalgia, wrapped into one. When is the last time an airplane or bus ride did that for you? now, imagine the possibilities for a new mode of travel— the destinations, festivals and events it opens up to you and your travelers? high speed rail has the capacity to grow your book of business. Two more things I like about the rail movement. one, it creates a massive amount of spending in construction jobs and capital equipment, which can’t be exported. Two, it’s a shoe-in to create more tourism-related jobs here in the U.s. once viable, the rail movement will enhance americans’ ability to travel from city to city and explore small towns in between, while opening up second-tier markets for interna-
tional tourists (imports) who will fly into a major city, then hub & spoke out to other areas within that region. It’s hard to defend the $8 billion that will have to flow into this project to kick-start the movement. billions more will be needed to make it viable. That being said, how do we defend billions of dollars of TarP money to companies “too big to fail” and massive government waste that takes place all around us? The billions spent here will go towards infrastructure, to linking up small communities with interior cities, and it’s but a fraction of the massive spending bill for roads, bridges and other transit. I urge all members of the group travel community to embrace rail travel as a friend to tourism and our future economic well-being. To see how your region will benefit, visit the U.s. high speed rail association at www.ushsr.com. Click on the map to see the proposed 17,000-mile national high speed rail system in place by 2030. If executed properly, this program will become the legacy of this generation, just as the federal highway system was for generations before. see you on the train,
Jeff Gayduk, Publisher Jeff@ptmgroups.com Rumor has it that Jeff’s ambition for a national rail network is to make up for his father giving away his model train set when the family moved to Florida in 1979. LeisureGroupTravel.com
on tour ❖
marty de souto, ctc
It’s Okay To Use Your Tour Members I GREW UP BEING TAUGHT that it wasn’t nice to use people. As a child I wasn’t supposed to look forward to my uncle’s visit because he brought me yummy caramel candies wrapped in pink and purple cellophane but rather because I loved my uncle for himself. As a teen, I wasn’t supposed to accept a date to the prom with the least-favorite boy in my class and “use” him just to ensure I got to the prom. But as an adult, I find that “using” my present and past tour members is not frowned upon. Surprisingly, many trip participants want to be used; in fact, many beg me to use them. So what are some of the ways we can tastefully use our travelers?
bers is to ask for their help en route. I might ask one person to bring up the rear and be sure everyone got through the immigration line while I scurry ahead to the baggage carousel to tend to the luggage. I might ask a tour participant to lead songs on a long bus ride. I’ve often requested that one of our younger or more active members fall back and accompany one of the participants who walks slowly and may be having difficulty keeping up. I might also ask someone to leave her little clique of friends and start up a new table for dinner, thus helping me activate sociability on tour and ensure that no one ever feels left out.
You might assign someone to be the official photographer or to lead songs on a long bus ride. First of all, use them for referrals. On my tour registration form I ask for two referrals. It says: “Please send information on this trip to my friends” with blank spaces to fill in the name and contacts of the friends. I then write a personal letter to the friend, tell them who referred them and enclose a pertinent trip brochure. Similarly, at the end of the tour when I mail out forms to the participants to give their comments on the tour, I again ask for referrals. Another way I may use tour mem8 August 2009
LEADERSHIP DUTIES I also like to ask them to accept “mini” leadership stints. For example, one evening when dinner is not included, I might set up three DutchTreat groups at three different restaurants and ask three different trip participants to be the leader for one of the groups. Sometimes you may have a tour participant who wants to run things – someone who is perhaps trying to take the leadership reins away from you. I find the best way to handle
this kind of person is to use him/her! I might say, “Mary, later this afternoon I’m going over to the restaurant where we’re having our farewell dinner; I want to check it out in advance. Do you want to accompany me? Two opinions are better than one.” You might even want to assign certain participants a specific role throughout the trip. For example, one person could be asked to be the official photographer to be sure everyone in the group gets photographed, and then to put together a little tour album of photos for each person as a memento. If your travel program has a website, why not “use” tour participants by inviting them to submit short (and positive) comments for you to use on this site. Lastly, you might want to use someone to arrange a tour reunion some time after your return home. Often this sounds like a grand idea when you’re on tour, but unless you have someone appointed to be in charge of planning, you find it will never happen. Now, while on tour, is the time to appoint this person. As you can see, there are many appropriate times to use people toward making each tour the most successful trip yet. Don’t overlook this wonderful opportunity. Marty is founder and chair of the travel industry training program at Berkeley City College in Berkeley, Calif., where she teaches all aspects of group travel. You can reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on her latest book, How To Plan, Operate, and Lead Successful Group Trips, click on Premier Tourism Marketing’s educational website, groupuniversity.com. LeisureGroupTravel.com
on girlfriend getaways ❖
For Ladies Only FOR A CLEAR SIGN that girlfriend getaways have taken the leap from fad to form, just Google it. If the thousands of results don’t convince you, then certainly another harbinger of contemporary culture is the publication of a Complete Idiot’s Guide on the subject. So why has this catchy buzz phrase become a permanent part of travel vernacular? And how, as an industry professional, do you capitalize on this exploding segment of the leisure travel market? The answer lies in tapping into the enthusiasm women have for good ol’ fashioned girl time while also appealing to their practical, consumer side. Let’s talk sociology first. It’s no secret that women have an innate need to connect. In the greater Phoenix area alone where I live, we have dozens of female-focused social clubs and networking groups — the Red Hat Society, Blue Thong Society (yes, you read that correctly), Junior League, Girlfriend’s Biz Association and so on. Women tend to feel more fulfilled when they can break away from their responsibilities and socialize with like-minded women. Taking that a step further, women relate to their girlfriends on an entirely different level than to their kids, spouses, colleagues and casual acquaintances. They tend to “get real,” let their defenses down and tap into their playful “inner girl.” Any wellness guru will tell you this is not only cathartic, but is also necessary for self-actualization, validation and a sense of belonging — in other words, sanity. By skipping off to some fabulous location, women don’t have the distractions of their many roles 10 August 2009
and get a heap of emotional wellness and fulfillment in the process. SHARING MEANS SAVINGS Now for the inflated elephant in the room. ITHET (that is, “in these hard economic times,” I think it’s earned its own acronym by now, don’t you?), girlfriend getaways have another mass appeal. Serious savings. Most women don’t bat an eyelash at sharing a hotel
where they spend their dollars. This consumer-savvy mindset translates into the travel industry as more bang for the buck. Girlfriend getaways offer the ideal way to recharge, reconnect and share new experiences — all the while being frugal with their dollars. Add to that a perceived added value or dig up packages that include female-centric activities — shopping, spa services, wine tastings — and they will come.
Gal trips offer the ideal way to reconnect and share new experiences. room, a bathroom, a bed for that matter, with a girlfriend. Splitting a meal, sharing dessert? No problem. Packing up the mini-van for an interstate road trip? Done. Women thrive off of intimacy, familiarity and a closeness that inherently saves them money. The current economic climate has also produced another phenomenon among female consumers — an unabashed embrace of the deal. I’ve seen it in my own business. Seven years ago, I launched a website that disseminates spa and salon information on beauty and wellness services. At the time, our goal was to provide service reviews that helped in the decision-making process. The ups and downs in the economy have veered us toward focusing more on salon and spa discounts. But have women stopped getting their hair colored, their nails groomed, their skin scrubbed? Heavens no. They have become more discriminating about
For a growing number of female travelers, girlfriend getaways have transcended from trend to tradition. As savvy travel planners, you can appeal to this growing segment by tapping into two primary advantages they have for female travelers: the emotional fulfillment that comes from sharing quality time with good friends and the softened blow that a shared vacation has on their pocketbooks. It’s just a matter of time before men jump on the bandwagon and the “man-date” morphs into a new trend in getaways for guys (well, maybe). Lisa Kasanicky is author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide® to Girlfriend Getaways (Alpha Books, 2009) and founder of ArizonaSpaGirls.com — a girlfriend-to-girlfriend guide to spas, salons, beauty and wellness. The book offers travel details on more than 70 destinations in the United States and Canada. LeisureGroupTravel.com
on the record ❖
What are the challenges you face in planning and executing fall foliage/harvest season trips? Following are answers from Leisure Group Travel readers who responded to the question: What are the challenges you face in planning and executing fall foliage/harvest season trips? we would suggest the following must be addressed to maximize fall travel experiences: 1. A substantial north/south itinerary so as to be able to capture foliage somewhere along the way. seasonal color times vary from year to year. Concentrating on a small segment limits one’s chance of “hitting it right,” while an itinerary that runs rather extensively north/south greatly enhances the probability of finding foliage that will make the trip memorable. 2. An in-depth assortment of local experiences featuring the crops, economics and peoples of the areas being visited. emphases on these aspects tend to create a wholesome and memorable “real life” experience, as opposed to high-tech tabloid experiences commonly found on other types of travels. 3. Fall foliage itineraries particularly lend themselves to worthwhile opportunities to enjoy one-of-a-kind accommodations. Mountain hideaways, new england inns with their welcoming fireplaces each evening and balcony rooms overlooking shorelines are accommodations that set the experience apart from the norm. our annual “leaves, lighthouses and lobsters - a Maine autumn experience” incorporates the above elements. some of our travelers have enjoyed it as many as three times. it features the opportunity to experience approximately 12 August 2009
three-fourths of Maine’s rather extensive north/south coastline and its fall foliage, a touch of Canada at Campabello, the easternmost city in the U.s. (lubec, Maine) and famous lighthouses. Cranberry bogs are explored, and a university professor is our guest to present a seminar on “wild Maine Blueberries.” Maine’s lobster industry is explored on a two-hour “on-the-water” seminar with a “shallow water” lobster man. later, we visit the home of a Bay of Fundy lobsterman to experience how a “deep water” lobster man takes his boat to the ocean in daily pursuit of the catch. Larry L. Kopke Please Go Away Vacations Great Bend, KS alaska is spectacular in the short autumn season. The summer season runs from mid-May to mid-september, corresponding with the arrival of our first snowfall at Denali national Park. with visions of “termination dust” (our first dusting of snow in the mountains) arriving in august, we tend to start our fall foliage tours by mid-august and end by the third week of september. with such a seasonal destination, we start our planning efforts 18-24 months prior to en-
sure maximization of marketing efforts. a great fall foliage tour combines the usual with the unusual. groups must experience anchorage and Denali national Park. as a cosmopolitan city, anchorage is terrific on a year-round basis. Denali, however, has limited services in the off-season (october-april). By midaugust, the tundra tapestry of colors turns brilliant rust and the tree leaves are a mix of gold and orange. Combine this with the first arrival of darkness to the north and the aurora Borealis (northern lights) wake-up calls that delight every age. By the end of september, the Denali Park road is impacted by snow fall, and Denali becomes a sleepy little community awaiting spring. Challenges this season are ensuring the motorcoach tours are filled, which means strengthening our worldwide partnership with travel professionals. as we look forward to what appears to be a strong fall season, we currently have limited availability on our most popular tour, the “grand alaska,” which showcases the brilliant fall colors. Stefanie Gorder, CTP, DS Senior Vice President Premier Alaska Tours, Inc. Anchorage, AK LeisureGroupTravel.com
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on the record ❖ For fall, over the last few years, we have incorporated rail travel into several packages. The most success with foliage tours has involved trains, boats and bus elements along with food and Charles Kuralt/Paul Harvey stories relevant to the regions of travel. Most of our folks are interested in a varied itinerary that features tour components they don’t find elsewhere. after 25 years on the road, almost every destination has a story or memory that we can share with our traveling friends, from the now famous “flying lobster” to being so lost that there was a picture of our bus on milk cartons. The stories help to foster a feeling of group involvement with a personal twist. since we have had success in fall with trains in our area as well as new england, we have added a western states train trip this year. Terry Altizer Terry’s Tours Radford, VA
The biggest challenge for planning fall trips is trying to guess when the color will be at its peak. People want to travel when the color is just peaking, and when you are planning the trips so far in advance, it is all a guessing game as to what the weather will hold. The color depends on the variations of temperatures and rain that each area will have. late september and early to midoctober is the best time to see color in the Midwest and east. we have a wonderful drive along the great river road in illinois that will typically show a lot of color. i always like to schedule a boat ride on the Mississippi river up to alton to enjoy the warm october afternoons and the color that the bluffs will show off. You get a wonderful meal on the boat, it is not too many hours and the weather is very nice. if you have groups that want a little longer trip, try the starved rock lodge. You can catch the spirit of Peoria in Peoria, ill., and ride the boat to the lodge, spend the night and take the motorcoach back the next day. october is a wonderful time to enjoy the amenities of the spirit of Peoria with ragtime music, wine and cheese reception and prime rib dinner before docking. Louise Yoder Tour Manager Mid-American Coaches Washington, MO
of course, the #1 problem is the weather—not necessarily during the tour, but prior to the tour. it’s just trying to predict when the temperatures will drop and rise to promote the beginning of the color change. low temps too soon and the colors are gone before oct. 1; too late in september, the leaves don’t change until mid-october. one nice thing for inbound foliage tours to do is plan to be in the springfield Mass. area during the Big e (eastern states exposition), which runs from mid-september to mid-october. There are countless things in the area that can be dropped in should the weather or leaves not cooperate. in new Hampshire, there are excursion trains and the cruise on lake winnipesaukee. The other most troublesome thing is planning a route that will not bog you down in traffic. going through the white Mountains can be difficult as there is really only one main route up either side. There are, however, several ways to help make the trip a bit easier. i would be happy to share routes that have worked well for me. Linda Dickinson Wrong Bus Holidays Manchester, NH My challenge with fall foliage tours— similar to spring flower tours—is making sure you hit color somewhere during the itinerary. i’ve learned to create tours with an overall routing of south to north (as opposed to east/west). Color tends to move northward in horizontal stripes across the country as the seasons change. if you’re driving north, if you’ve given yourself enough days and if the weather cooperates, you’re sure to pass through a peak area somewhere on the itinerary. Yes, that’s a lot of “ifs.” so my final challenge is making sure the itinerary is rock solid with great food, attractions and accommodations. This way my guests
have happy memories of a wonderful trip even if the leaves don’t cooperate. Clayton Whitehead, CTP, CITM Vice President Sports Leisure Vacations Sacramento, CA
The challenge that we face in executing a fall foliage trip often centers around the limited and unpredictable time frame of the foliage peak. Because the peak is based on variable weather conditions, selecting ideal departure dates means we have to make an educated guess. Plus, you are moving a tour in a destination’s most popular time so there can be some logistical issues. Some of the experiences that really “wow” our passengers on a foliage tour have been a cruise on Lake Champlain or Maine’s Casco Bay, a drive along New Hampshire’s Kangamagus Highway and seeing the covered bridges in old New England towns. Suzanne Kinahan Product Manager for New England Collette Vacations Pawtucket, RI
© BMP / PHOTO BY JAMES PORTO
IN THE OCTOBER ISSUE of Leisure Group Travel, our On the Record column will explore restaurant meals. Please send us your response to this question: While restaurants may not be a huge selling point in marketing a tour, meals are a key ingredient in keeping travelers happy. How do you incorporate memorable meals into your trips while keeping costs in line? Along with your comments, please include your name, company name and location. Also for publication, send a high-resolution photo of yourself. A selection of responses will be printed in the October 2009 issue. Thanks in advance for your valuable opinions. Send to: Randy Mink, email@example.com
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on religious travel ❖
kevin j. wright
Make 2010 Your Best Year in Faith Tourism ARE YOU READY TO make 2010 your best year ever? And are you ready to make 2010 the best year you’ve ever had in faith tourism? If your answer is a resounding “Yes,” then read on. By making a commitment to make 2010 your best year ever in religious travel and hospitality, you are adopting a “proactive” approach versus a “reactive” way of thinking. This is often the difference between those who succeed and those who succumb to ongoing challenges. Following are eight ideas that will help any tourism organization, travel professional or group planner make it a banner year for faith tourism:
Research and learn about today’s religious market. There’s no better way to prepare for your best year yet in faith tourism than by spending time studying the industry and understanding its structure and opportunities. Fortunately, many more educational resources on religious travel and hospitality are becoming available.
for 2010 in regards to your entrance or expansion into faith tourism. If you’re a group planner, take time to put together a comprehensive travel plan, focused especially on how you will enrich your program through faith tourism.
Establish a support team around your faith tourism program. If you’re a tourism organization or travel company, dedicate personnel to develop your religious travel market and clientele; there’s no better way to experience success in this market than with specialists. If you’re a group planner, build a
strong support structure around you, including a solid team of suppliers and travel wholesalers.
16 August 2009
Celebrate and build upon your success. By following the steps above, you’ll be well poised to experience your best year in faith tourism.
and mission trips to leisure vacations.
Make a commitment to expand your presence in religious travel. Once you’ve studied the faith tourism market, the next step is to make a committed decision to expand your presence in this industry. Doing so will act as the turning point in making 2010 your best faith tourism year yet. Put together a faith tourism plan. Success always begins first with an idea followed by a plan. If you’re a travel professional, put together a business plan
Execute and implement your faith tourism plan. Once you’ve laid the foundation of your success by following points one through six above, it’s then time to execute and implement your faith tourism plan. This is where most of your time will be spent in 2010.
Faith-based travel ranges from pilgrimages
Diversify your religious travel products. Instead of offering only one type of travel to your clients or members, consider supplying a wideranging portfolio of experiences such as pilgrimages, cruises, mission trips, leisure vacations, volunteer vacations, conventions/meetings, weekend getaways and adventure travel. This is what today’s faith-based travelers want – and expect.
groups. For this reason, it is important to reach out to all ages.
Cater your religious travel products to all ages. By studying today’s market, you will quickly learn that modern-day faith travelers come from all age
And as you reach your goals, remember to take time out and celebrate. Above all, continue to build upon each success; by doing so, you can expect to experience sustained growth year after year. You now have your “marching orders” for making 2010 your best year ever in faith tourism. So important is this goal that this year’s World Religious Travel Expo, hosted by the World Religious Travel Association, has been themed “Make 2010 Your Best Year in Faith Tourism.” I commend you for accepting my challenge, and I look forward to hearing about your 2010 success stories in faith tourism. Kevin J. Wright is the president of the World Religious Travel Association. Contact: 888255-9782, firstname.lastname@example.org, wrtareligioustravel.com. LeisureGroupTravel.com
the glories of
israel Groups tap the roots of their faith in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land
Church of All Nations, Jerusalem
hen your group takes a journey to the Holy Land, they will witness the places most sacred to their faith, learn more about the stories they hold closest to their hearts, and experience the culture of the communities where their belief was born. In addition to tracing the Stations of the Cross by day, they can watch an Israeli folklore show with dinner. They’ll visit the sites of miracles, like Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine, as well as places of unique pleasures like floating on the incredibly buoyant waters of the Dead Sea. Israel is a place to venture into the secret underground passageways of Crusader City, to float across the Sea of Galilee, and to witness the breathtaking view of the Holy City upon entering
Jerusalem. It’s a place to get adventurous by exploring the diverse Mediterranean influences in the local cuisine, or by simply enjoying a falafel from a street vendor while strolling ancient stone streets.
A LucrAtive MArket Menlo studies have revealed that Israel is the most desirable religious vacation destination and that within the next five years, nearly 16 million Americans are planning to take a Religious/Faith-Based Vacation. This is an excellent opportunity for group travel. And since 4 out of 5 religious travelers intend to repeat the experience and Globus vacations have a 97% satisfaction rating, sending your groups on Globus Religious Vacation means repeat business for you! For many, the footsteps of faith are a serious undertaking, and we make sure
to provide a staff with extensive knowledge, interest, and experience in religious travel. Itineraries have been carefully chosen and refined so that travelers can comfortably explore all of the places they hold dear. And when your group undertakes such an important pilgrimage, we want to make sure they enjoy their experience. Travelers to the Holy Land have an unparalleled opportunity to develop fellowship with their traveling companions. By sharing these mutual interests, Faith-Based Travelers often build friendships—and vacation partnerships—that last a lifetime. But you don’t have to take our word for it—this travelogue from a Globus traveler who just returned home from the “Journey Through the Holy Land” vacation speaks volumes.
Bring the world’s most
The Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem 18 August 2009
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Day 1 Yesterday we arrived in Tel Aviv. We got to meet our Tour Director and everyone in the group, which we loved because everybody is so excited. We began the day in Caesarea, where we saw Herod’s fortress. Our Tour Director said that the engraved rock is believed to be from Pontius Pilate. He also said that the term Armageddon was derived from the battlefield we saw in Meggido. It was nice to find a change of pace when we passed through Baron Edmond de Rothschild’s vineyards on the way to Muhraqa. We spent the night in the port town Haifa.
A Haifa highlight: Baha’i Shrine, world center of Baha’i faith
Day 2 Wow! What a way to wake up—staring at the Baha’i Shrine. We got to look upon the glorious dome and the perfectly manicured gardens from above and below. After that we explored the Crusader Kingdom. The hallways and secret passageways of the underground Crusader City are just amazing. I felt privy to something special I never could have imagined. The huge columns are engraved with beautiful French fleur-de-lys and Turkish decorations. In the courtyard, the citadel walls are almost 100 feet high! But that was only the beginning. Nazareth felt like the place the Bible really comes to life. It was fascinating to see how small and simple the ancient homes were. Then we headed to Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding. And to top it all off, we went for a swim in the lake at Kibbutz Ginosaur before dinner.
powerful stories to life. Day 3 Today started at the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. I think everyone felt inspired after that. Our Tour Director led us on an in-depth exploration of the places Jesus preached—first the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes and then Capernaum, where Jesus recruited his first followers. The little details he included in the stories about these places were illuminating. Our cruise on the Sea of Galilee was such a fun shared experience, and gave us a much different view of the landscape and the culture where our faith began. It was a joy to find ourselves on the same sea where Jesus walked on water. After we examined some Roman and Byzantine relics in Bet She’an, we entered the Holy City—and what a view!
Day 4 The morning began in Ein Karem to visit the Church of St. John the Baptist and the Church of Visitation, which our Tour Director said is reputed to be built over the home of John the Baptist’s parents. But visiting Bethlehem was the biggest wow moment for me. Seeing that the place Jesus was born is now an underground cave, I just got goosebumps. We also visited Shepherd’s Field, the lovely site where the angels announced the birth of Jesus. On our return to Jerusalem, we examined amazing treasures from the Second Temple Period in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. In the evening, we enjoyed an Israeli folklore show with dinner. So much fun! LeisureGroupTravel.com
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Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem August 2009 19
Day 5 We may be at the lowest point on Earth at the Dead Sea, but you’d never know it by our first venture of the day. We ascended in a cable car to the spectacular hilltop fortress of Masada. We could see across the sea all the way to Jordan. The schedule worked out perfectly today—we were ready for a more relaxing day, and our group headed to a really comfortable Dead Sea resort. I had heard about floating on the Dead Sea, but never guessed how cool it would be. I floated sitting up! It was such a unique experience, I recommend it to anyone. We were all smiles as we made our way back to Jerusalem.
Day 6 We could see the Old City and the modern parts of Jerusalem this morning from the Mount of Olives. Then we began a walking tour: the Rock of Agony, where Jesus prayed his last prayer before his arrest; the Cave of the Assumption of Mary and the Cave of Betrayal; and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, erected over the site of the crucifixion. When I saw the slab of marble where Jesus’ body was cleansed after crucifixion, it was a very emotional moment. I left a photo of my husband and son there. We visited the Wailing Wall afterward, which was extremely powerful because you witness so many Jewish traditions and everyone is so devout. You’re there to have a religious experience. The day concluded at the House of Caiaphas, where Jesus was kept the night after he was arrested. This was definitely one of the most emotional days of my life.
St. Catherine’s Church in Bethlehem, where the midnight Mass is held on Christmas for world leaders
"This was definitely one of the most emotional days of my life." Day 7 Today was a day at leisure, so we took the time to explore. Our Tour Director recommended visiting the Israel Museum, where we saw the Shrine of the Book, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Bible in the world, and a model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period. We truly appreciated the day at leisure in Jerusalem. We wandered the stone streets of the Old City and checked out the Turkish markets. We ate some Hungarian goulash and delicious vegetable kabobs. And we got to see the sunlight shine through the Chagall windows, which was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. We decided to end the afternoon at the Holocaust Museum, which was incredibly moving.
Day 8 We were excited to rejoin the group this morning! We followed a winding road to the land of the Philistines, including the legendary Valley of Elah, where David defeated Goliath. Our Tour Director shared stories that gave the famous story a whole new context. We also visited the Monastery of the Trappist Monks in Latrun and stopped near the ruins of the basilica said to be the site of Emmaus, where Jesus manifested himself to two disciples. But this day was mainly memorable because our journey was coming to an end. Exploring the places where all the stories behind our faith happened really made me appreciate our fellow travelers. There’s a truly special bond you form when traveling with others who share your faith. By the farewell dinner, we were all trading stories like old friends. 20 August 2009
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Bethesda Pools in Jerusalem, site of a miraculous healing by Jesus
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on location: international ❖
he island nation of Cyprus is nestled between Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The location helps explain the varied cultural and religious influences that have mixed here for over 10,000 years. It is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis and was on the missionary routes of Paul and other apostles. At various times it was governed by Greece, the Byzantines, France, Venice, the Ottomans and finally England. The Ottomans held Cyprus for 300 years and turned the churches into mosques. In 1960 the country gained its independence and in 1974 was divided after the Turkish invasion, al-
Photos by John Kloster
though the world only recognizes the government of the south. The lower two-thirds is ethnically Greek, and the northern area is controlled by Turkey. There’s a U.N. buffer zone along the peaceful border, and there are still two U.K. military bases. Leisure Group Travel had the chance to visit Cyprus this spring along with a small group of tour operators and travel agents who specialize in religious travel. We did not visit the Turkish-controlled area but did hit the tourism highlights of the south. We began with a flight from Athens into Larnaka, on the eastern end of the island. (City names have English, Greek and Turkish names and they’re usually not the same. For purposes of this article, we’re using the Greek name, as that’s
CypruS Churches, monasteries and ancient ruins enchant groups touring this Mediterranean isle at the crossroads of three continents
Charming villages dot the countryside.
Kykkos Monastery, the most important in Cyprus, has a Byzantine museum.
22 August 2009
The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates is a major archaeological site on Cyprus.
what you’d see when you were there.) St. Lazaros Church in Larnaka is built over the tomb of the friend of Christ who was raised from the dead. He was the first bishop of Larnaka and is its patron saint. Larnaka is also the home of Xenon, the founder of stoicism. From Larnaka it is a scenic 90-minute drive through fertile but arid fields along the south shore to the island’s west coast and Pafos, now the country’s No. 1 tourism area due to its beautiful beaches and local crafts. Pafos is the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Petra tou Romiou is the site of the rocks in the sea from which she rose. Pafos itself is on the UNESCO list of cultural and natural world heritage treasures. Extensive detailed mosaics from the remains of Roman villas can be found in the Houses of Dionysus and Theseus. The mosaics depict the major figures of Greek mythology and show aspects of daily life at the time. Another popular tourist spot in Pafos is the Tomb of the Kings, so named not because kings are necessarily buried there but because the tombs are so impressive. Burial caves from the fourth century B.C. are carved into the rock and decorated with LeisureGroupTravel.com
columns and capitals. Visitors can walk through the rooms, many underground, to explore this vast site.
First Christian Country The apostle Paul visited Pafos in the first century, along with apostles Mark and Barnabas, a Cypriot, to preach Christianity. Chrysopolitissa Church was built over the ruins of the largest early basilica on the island. The compound contains many fragments of buildings and columns, including St. Paul’s Pillar. According to tradition, Paul was tied to the pillar and given 39 lashes as punishment for preaching
Christianity. Later the Roman governor was converted to Christianity and made Cyprus the first Christian country in the world. Our tour group also visited the impressive monastery founded by hermit St. Neophytos and the Engleistra, a structure carved into the face of the mountain and containing his remote living quarters. The final hub city is Lemesos on the south coast, Cyprus’ main industrial and shipping area and the second largest city in the country. Its port hosts many cruise ships. Richard the Lionhearted came here during a crusade and was married at Lemesos Castle in 1191. Kolossi Castle is on the outskirts of the city. Built in the 1300s by French crusaders who controlled Cyprus for 300 years, it was a center for the production of wine and sugar, an important export. The ruins of the city of Kourion are nearby. This once important city contains a Roman villa with large public baths, a swimming pool and stadium. Gladiator games were held at the large Greco-Roman amphitheater, which is used today for musical and theatrical performances. Many of the artifacts found here were stolen in the 1800s by the U.S. consul to Cyprus and today are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in
A Cypriot Feast
unique aspect of Cypriot cuisine is the meze. This is a meal served family-style, offering a broad selection of dishes to be eaten in small portions, similar to Spanish tapas or small plates. It may include bread, hummus, yogurt, salads, olives, Cyprus’ famous halloumi cheese, calamari, fish, lamb, chicken and dessert. Cyprus coffee is served with the finely-ground coffee grounds still in the cup, so one only drinks the top half of the cup. After it’s gone, the grounds are dumped into the saucer and someone experienced in these things reads your future in them.
August 2009 23
faith-based incoming agency
Are you looking for a reliable partner for your trip to Germany and Europe? We are specialised in: I Martin Luther and Reformation I Passion Play Oberammergau I Art & Literary study tours I Choir & Music tours We are related to the Catholic and Protestant Church. Biblical Tours Stuttgart – Germany Fon 0049 711/61925-27 · Fax -827 E-Mail: email@example.com www.biblical-tours.com
24 August 2009
on location: international ❖ New York. Not far away is the Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates, the woodland god, with its famous columns. Lemesos is a convenient base from which to spend a day or two exploring the Troodos Mountains and another in Lefkosia, each less than an hour away. Lefkosia, the capital since the 10th century, is the country’s largest city. The wall Venetians built around the city in 1522 still stands. Lefkosia today has a more modern wall, constructed in 1974 when the Turks took the northern part of the island, dividing the country and creating the only divided capital city in the world. U.N. soldiers man a buffer zone that cuts the city, although the border is open and one is free to travel between the two sectors as long as one has entered the Republic through one of the legal ports of entry. The Archbishop’s Palace is at Archbishop Kyprianos Square. Next door is the Cathedral of St. Ioannis the Evangelist with picturesque frescoes, including one that shows the discovery of St. Barnabas’ tomb on the east coast of the island. Also in this area is the Byzantine Museum with over 200 icons. A final stop in the capital is the Cyprus Archaeological Museum with antiquities ranging from the Neolithic age to the Byzantine period. Our trip to the Troodos Mountains,
a half hour northwest of Lemesos, began with a stop in the village of Panagia. It is the home of Archbishop Makarios, who was both the archbishop and first president of independent Cyprus. His home is open to tourists, and he is buried near Kykkos Monastery. We then traveled to a 4,000-foot elevation through snowy forests to the Monastery of Kykkos, the most important and lavish of the country’s monasteries. It has one of three icons attributed to St. Loukas the Evangelist, an icon of the Virgin Mary from the palace at Constantinople. Archbishop Makarios served as a novice monk here. The Troodos Mountains are home to Cyprus’ painted churches, 10 of which are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, plus dozens of charming villages. (All the churches mentioned below are on that list.) The wine village of Omodos is home to the 800year-old Monastery of the Holy Cross, which has a cross with the only fragment of the robe from the Crucifixion. Agios Ioannis Lampadistis Church is a monastery complex that consists of three churches—Agios Herakleidios, Ionnis Lampadistis and a chapel—that share a single roof. Agios Herakleidios church, built in the 11th century and decorated with the arms of various Latin knights and noble Frankish families, is dedicated to the man who was baptized here by Paul and Barnabas. Cyprus offers an intriguing combination of religious history, ancient villages and seaside resorts. Travelers will find a beautiful country and a blend of sights found nowhere else. LGT
PLAN IT! Cyprus Tourism Organization: 212-685-5280, visitcyprus.com
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on religious travel ❖
Oberammergau Passion Play 2010 Following is a sampling of tours that include Germany’s once-a-decade Passion Play. For a full listing, visit www.leisuregrouptravel.com Tour Name
Biblical Tours (0049-711/61925-27)
Germany, Switzerland, Including Passion Play in Oberammergau
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau, Bavaria, Rhine Falls Switzerland: Zurich, Geneva
Not scheduled tours
Germany-the Grand Tour, Passion Play in Oberammergau
Germany: Berlin, Dresden, Nuremberg, Munich, Oberammergau, Stuttgart, Black Forest, Heidelberg, Rhine River
Not scheduled tours
Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Passion Play in Oberammergau
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Salzburg, Vienna Czech Republic: Prague
Not scheduled tours
Celtic Tours (800-833-4373)
Passion Play with Munich and Vienna
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Vienna
$2093 to $2394
May 18, 25, Jun 8, Jul 6, Sept 7
Passion Play with Vienna and Warsaw
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Vienna Hungary: Budapest Poland: Krakow, Warsaw
May 18, 25, Jun 8, Jul 6, Sept 7
Passion Play with Eastern European Panorama
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Vienna Hungary: Budapest Poland: Krakow, Warsaw Germany: Berlin Czech Republic: Prague
May 18, 25, Jun 8, Jul 6, Sept 7
Collette Vacations (800-340-5158)
Bavaria, with Oberammergau's Passion Play
Germany: Munich, Nuremberg, Oberammergau Austria: Innsbruck
Jul 3, 17, 24, 31 Aug 7, 14, 21 Sept 18
Alpine Explorer with the Glacier Express, Oberammergau Passion Play
Italy: Stresa Switzerland: Lugano, Zermatt, the Glacier Express, St. Moritz Austria: Innsbruck, Salzburg Germany: Munich, Oberammergau
41 departure dates May through September
Discover Croatia, Featuring the Dalmation Coast, Medjugorje, Slovenia
Germany: Bavaria, Oberammergau Slovenia: Bled Croatia: Split Bosnia-Herzegovina: Medjugorje Croatia: Dubrovnik, Zagreb
19 departure dates May through September
Cosmos Tours (800-276-1241)
European Jewels and Oberammergau
England: London The Netherlands: Amsterdam Germany: Rhineland, Munich, Oberammergau Italy: Venice, Florence Switzerland: Lucerne France: Paris
May 15, Jun 5, Jul 17
Grand Tour of Switzerland and Oberammergau
Switzerland: Zurich, St. Moritz, Lugano, Tasch, Lausanne, Lucerne Germany: Oberammergau, Munich
10 departure dates June through September
Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Oberammergau
Germany: Munich, Nuremberg, Oberammergau Czech Republic: Prague Hungary: Budapest Austria: Salzburg, Vienna
20 departure dates May through September
EuroWorld Holidays (888-570-9003)
The 2010 Passion Play Rhine River Cruise
Germany: Rothenburg, Wurzburg, Heidelberg, Oberammergau, Munich
May 19 to May 30
The 2010 Passion Play Rhine River Cruise
Germany: Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Oberammergau, Munich France: Strasbourg Switzerland: Lucerne
July 23 to Aug 2
Imperial Splendors and Oberammergau
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Czech Republic: Prague, Slovakia: Bratislava Hungary: Budapest Austria: Vienna, Melk, Salzburg
40 departure dates May through September
German Highlights and Oberammergau
Germany: Frankfurt, Remagen, Cologne, Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Oberammergau, Lindau, Black Forest, Heidelberg, Frankfurt
40 departure dates May through September
Alpine Countries and Oberammergau
Germany: Frankfurt, Oberammergau Austria: Salzburg, Vienna, St. Veit, Innsbruck Switzerland: St. Moritz, Lugano, Zermatt, Lucerne Italy: Stresa
20 departures dates May through September
Image Tours Inc® (800-964-3170)
Heart of Europe® Tour with Passion Play
Netherlands: Amsterdam Belgium: Antwerp Germany: Heidelberg, Oberammergau, Munich Austria: Innsbruck Italy: Bussolengo Switzerland: Lugano France: Paris
May 14-28, Jun 21-Jul 5, Aug 2-15, Sept 15-29
Image Tours Inc®
Germany, Austria and Switzerland Tour with Passion Play
Germany: Nuremberg, Munich, Oberammergau, Heidelberg, Frankfurt Austria: Fieberbrunn, Innsbruck Liechtenstein: Vaduz Switzerland: Lucerne
Jul 16-29, Sept 24-Oct 7
Image Tours Inc®
Treasures of Italy Tour with Passion Play
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Switzerland: St. Moritz Italy: Milan, Verona, Venice, Pisa, Montecatini-Terme, Florence, Anguillara Sabazia, Rome
Mayflower Tours (800-323-7604)
2010 Oberammergau Passion Play
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Salzburg, Vienna Hungary: Budapest
12 departure dates May through September
Select International (800-842-4842)
Life of Jesus: Biblical Discovery & Oberammergau Passion Play 2010
Israel: Tel Aviv, Nazareth, Galilee, Jericho, Jerusalem, Bethlehem Germany: Oberammergau, Munich
May 11-22, 18-29, Jun 8-19, Jul 6-17, Aug 10-21, Sept 7-18
Select International Tours
Papal Pilgrimage plus the Passion Play 2010
Poland: Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow Czech Republic: Prague Germany: Regensburg, Altotting, Lake Chiemsee, Oberammergau, Munich
May 10-22, Jun 14-26 Jun 28-Jul 10, Aug 2-14
Select International Tours
Shrines of Croatia and the Passion Play 2010
Croatia: Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb Slovenia: Ljubljana Bosnia-Herzegovina: Medjugorje Germany: Oberammergau, Munich
May 18-29, Jun 8-19, Sept 14-24, Sept 21-Oct 2
Tauck World Disc. (800-788-7885)
A Week In Bavaria, the Dolomites, and Venice,Including the Passion Play
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau Austria: Innsbruck, the Dolomites Italy: Bolzano, Venice
21 departures May through September
Tauck World Discovery
Alpine Interlude,Including the Passion Play
Switzerland: Zurich, Berne, Interlaken Liechtenstein: Vaduz Germany: Oberammergau Austria: Innsbruck, The Dolomites, Salzburg, Vienna
16 departures from May through September
Tauck World Discovery
Romantic Germany,Including the Passion Play
Germany: Weisbaden, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Oberammergau, Munich, Weimar, Dresden, Berlin
19 departures from May through September
Virgin Vacations (888-937-8474)
Highlights of Germany with Oberammergau
Germany: Munich, Oberammergau, Black Forest, Rhine River, Frankfurt
Aug 2, Sept 6, 27
Northern Italy, Switzerland, and Oberammergau
Italy: Milan, Lake Maggiore Switzerland: Lugano, Zurich Germany: Black Forest, Oberammergau, Wurzburg
Jun 9, Jul 7, Sept 8
Music and Passion with Oberammergau
Hungary: Budapest Austria: Vienna, Salzburg Germany: Oberammergau, Black Forest, Rothenburg
Jun 22, Jul 13, Aug 24
Compiled by Jack Dwyer
on religious travel ❖
kevin j. wright
World Religious Travel Expo 2009 IN THE FALL OF 2008 in Orlando, an historic event took place in the travel and tourism industry. For the first time in history, faith tourism professionals and planners from around the globe gathered together under one roof to meet and network with one another. Today this assembly of faith tourism organizations and individuals, the World Religious Travel Expo, constitutes the only global marketplace for religious travel and hospitality. It is here where all segments of the $18-billion industry come face-to-face to buy, sell, develop products, find new suppliers, develop new partnerships and stay at the forefront of faith tourism. This year’s Expo will be held from Nov. 14-16 in Reno, Nev.
portfolio and develop new relationships/partnerships in the industry. Who will be at the Expo? The World Religious Travel Expo 2009 is expected to welcome more than 600 tourism organizations and travel professionals from around the globe. All delegates are either involved in religious travel and hospitality or looking to expand their presence and portfolios. At-
strengthen your presence in the rapidly growing religious travel and hospitality industry – whether you are a travel professional or planner. In short, here are the Top 10 Reasons to attend:
• Buy and sell on the world’s premier stage of religious travel and hospitality. • Find new products and services in faith tourism. • Learn how to effectively build a thriving faith-based travel program, business or division. • Meet the “Who’s Who” in the religious travel industry. • Discover new faith-based travel products and services for your portfolio. • Learn how to promote your organization/trips effectively to your clients or members. • Gain in-depth and cuttingWhat can you edge knowledge on religious experience at the Expo? travel and hospitality. By attending or exhibiting • Develop relationships and Faith tourism leaders meet in Reno this November. at the World Religious Travel partnerships with key faith tendees and exhibitors include the Expo, you can network with hundreds tourism leaders. buyers, sellers and re-sellers in faith of travel industry professionals from • Participate in the industry’s most tourism. Buyers include travel agents, more than 30 countries. Destinations, comprehensive educational program on planners, product managers and others tour operators, cruise lines, attractions, faith tourism. in a “purchasing” capacity, while sellers hotel properties, travel suppliers and • Become involved in the most imporand re-sellers include professionals and a host of other providers and planners tant gathering of the religious travel and entities such as travel agents, tour operafrom Africa, the Americas, Asia, Aushospitality industry. tors, destination management organizatralia, the Caribbean, Europe and New highlights for the 2nd annual tions (i.e. tourist offices and CVBs), the Holy Land will be represented. In Expo include co-locating with the lodging facilities, transportation compaaddition, the Educational Conference National Tour Association Annual nies, cruise lines, suppliers, media, relifeatures the most comprehensive profesConvention, offering delegates ungious sites and others in a similar sional development program on faith precedented opportunities for business “selling” capacity. tourism. As such, the Expo is the ideal growth and networking. place to enter or expand your presence Contact: World Religious Travel Why attend the Expo? in faith travel, build your brand, buy Association, 888-255-9782. See a video The World Religious Travel Expo and sell products and services, discover and register at the Expo’s official weboffers a unique opportunity to new trends, enrich your religious travel site, wrtaexpo.com. LeisureGroupTravel.com
August 2009 27
on religious travel ❖ Religious News BAPTISM SITE DRAWS CHRISTIANS TO JORDAN Bethany beyond the Jordan, the traditional biblical location near the banks of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized, has been a hub of activity in 2009. For more than a decade, experts have unearthed ruins of early churches and the ancient settlement associated with John the Baptist, and now many Christian denominations have begun building new churches nearby to facilitate modern pilgrims in what has been called the birthplace of Christianity. In March, Baptist World Alliance officials, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammed of Jordan joined officials from around the world to dedicate the new
28 August 2009
Baptism Center. In May, Pope Benedict XVI blessed the cornerstones of two new Catholic churches being built. The Baptism Center and Catholic churches join the fully operational Greek Orthodox Church and others under construction. Several hundred thousand visitors came to the baptism site in 2008. In 2009, more Americans have visited the site than any other nationality. Once the new facilities are completed, officials are prepared to receive more than a million visitors a year. (877733-5673, visitjordan.com) TURIN, ITALY The Shroud of Turin will be on display for public viewing from April 10 to May 23, 2010 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The shroud, according to tradition, was Christ’s burial cloth and bears a full-length photonegative image of a crucified man, believed by many Christians to be Jesus Christ. Normally the church keeps the shroud behind bulletproof glass in a special chapel. A hermetically sealed casket made of space-age alloy preserves and conceals the shroud. The Pope must approve any removal for study or public display. Travelers have not had the chance to see the shroud since 2000. The shroud is expected to draw more than two million travelers to Italy’s Piemonte region. (sindone.org)
Churches are being built at Bethany beyond the Jordan, a new destination for Christian tour groups.
NEW JERUSALEM ATTRACTION The Time Elevator in Jerusalem is a new interactive experience that uses motion-based seating, panoramic screens and special effects in conjunction with a film. The film covers the 3,000-year history of Jerusalem, highlighting important events such as the Roman conquest, the birth of Christianity and the establishment of Israel. Seats move in six different directions and surround-sound headsets allow the show to be heard in English and seven other languages. (time-elevator-jerusalem.co.il). MOSAICS MUSEUM The Museum of the Good Samaritan, one of the world’s largest mosaics museums, just opened in the Judean Desert near Jerusalem. Located on the main highway between Jerusalem and Jericho, the museum is near the site of the inn mentioned in the New Testament’s parable of the Good Samaritan. LeisureGroupTravel.com
on religious travel ❖
Religious News Continued It is identified with the biblical town of Ma’ale Adumim and displays mosaics and artifacts discovered throughout Israel. The museum features an open-air display of mosaics and archaeological findings from both Jewish and Samaritan synagogues and Christian churches, including cisterns and remnants from the reconstructed Good Samaritan Byzantine Church. (goisrael.com) CALIFORNIA ABBEY The Cistercian monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux in Vina have undertaken the Sacred Stones Project, the reconstruction of an 800-year-old chapter house that was originally built in Ovila, Spain. The sacred stones that had once formed the Sacramento Valley monastery passed hands several times, and at one point, belonged to William Randolph Hearst before he sold them to the city of San Francisco. The stones were used for various purposes throughout the city, but were awarded to the Abbey of New Clairvaux after the monks spent years petitioning for them. Numerous craftsmen, most of them from Europe, have worked to meticulously restore each aspect of the chapter house, considered the most important room in the monastery. Three of the Gothic portals have been completed. Masons will erect eight columns 30 August 2009
that will support the massive arches of the chapter house’s vaulted ceiling. (530-839-2434, newclairvaux.org, sacredstones.org) PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM The National Museum of American Jewish History is constructing a fivestory building on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. Set to open in fall 2010, it will stand directly across from the Liberty Bell, a block south of the National Constitution Center and one block north of Independence Hall. The core exhibition will trace the lives of American Jews from 1654 to the present, exploring how Jews created a new home in a free land and how America shaped their lives. Exhibits will draw on the museum’s permanent collection, which includes ritual objects and embroidered textiles carried to America by 19th century Jewish immigrants, plus artwork, photographs and rare books. The new building will allow for expanded programming and activities that are not possible in the current facility. Major spaces will include a Center for Jewish Education that will serve schoolchildren and young adults of every background, the 200-seat Dell Family Theater and an event space overlooking Independence Mall. (215-923-3811, nmajh.org) THE STORY OF JOSEPH Sight & Sound Theatres presents a new production of Joseph from March 6-Oct. 30, 2010 at the Millennium Theatre in Strasburg, Pa. The classic Bible story about Joseph’s forgiveness and integrity will feature a cast of 45 professional adult and children actors, dozens of live animals gracing the aisles, several dream sequences including Joseph in his colorful coat “flying” over the audience, larger-than-life stagLeisureGroupTravel.com
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*Book a 2010 Globus Oberammergau vacation to receive the $100 per person discount. Booking must be made, under deposit and discount applied between July 8 and October 13, 2009 for travel anytime in 2010. Offers not valid with any other offer except Journeys Club member benefit and applies to new 2010 Globus Oberammergau bookings only and will not be applied to existing bookings. Offer reliant on space availability. Full cancellation penalties will apply. Additional restrictions may apply. **All prices quoted are per person, land only, double occupancy. Air-inclusive pricing is available. Additional restrictions may apply.
on religious travel ❖
Religious News Continued ing that includes a spectacular Egyptian palace scene spanning 300 feet and wrapping around three sides of the audience, plus 20 original songs. Inspired by Joseph’s colorful coat, the show will weave a brilliant color scheme into the music, costumes, lights and special effects. Tickets for groups of 15 and more are $54.15 for adults, $16 for children, $28 for teens. Psalms of David returns to Living Waters Theatre April 24Sept. 25, 2010 (tickets $16-$29.45). This year’s show at the Millennium Theatre, the epic musical In the Beginning, is the biblical account of creation and runs through Oct. 17, 2009, followed by Voices of Christmas (Oct. 3-Jan. 2 at Living Waters Theatre) and Miracle of Christmas (Nov. 7-Jan. 2). Hotel, meal and multi-show packages are available, as are behind-the-scenes tours.
32 August 2009
SOUTH AFRICA Groups to Africa, a South Africa tour operator, offers Christian travelers tailormade trips that combine faith, fellowship and fun. Activities might include a morning of caring for an AIDS-affected child at an orphanage, tea or a cookout with a local family, or attending a Sunday service at a rural congregation or mega-church. Groups can spend devotion time in the African bush and go on safari in such game sanctuaries as Kruger National Park. Other excursions might involve Soweto and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. (groupstoafrica.com) NORTHWEST INDIANA The Shrine of Christ’s Passion has become an attraction of spiritual significance drawing people of all religious faiths from around the country. An interactive half-mile winding pathway of 40 life-size bronze statues, the Shrine provides an intimate environment for spiritual renewal. The 15-acre site, which has been under development for eight years, was designed to reflect the period when Jesus was alive. Pilgrims experience the Passion of Christ beginning with Last Supper and Garden of Gethsemane scenes and ending with the Ascension. Original background music sets the mood along the trail, and each setting has a listening station where visitors hear a description of the scene and short meditation. The voice of the Shrine is Chicago broadcast journalist Bill Kurtis. The Shrine of Christ’s Passion is funded by a not-for-profit foundation, and all proceeds from the gift shop and donations are used to maintain the Prayer Trail. Since opening in May of 2088, the Shrine, located 35 miles southeast of Chicago, has attracted more than 100,000 visitors. (219-365-6010, shrineofchristspassion.org) LeisureGroupTravel.com
on location ❖ south
ARKANSAS TREASURES Crater of Diamonds and Mount Magazine, each with group appeal, are two of the brightest gems in the state park system
DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of those travel destinations that, when you hear about it, you want to go there some day. You want to try your luck searching for diamonds at the only diamond-bearing site in the world open to the public. A one-of-a-kind place, it becomes a “must see” on your travel radar screen. For group travelers, this state park in 34 August 2009
White, brown and yellow are the most common colors found by visitors at Crater of Diamonds.
southwest Arkansas is a perfect rest stop. If time allows, spend some time digging in the park’s 37½-acre diamond search area, the eroded surface of the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area. However, if time
is limited, enjoy the orientation video and learn the fascinating story of why diamonds are present at this site near Murfreesboro. And explore the exhibits in the park visitor center and adjacent Diamond Discovery Center. On display is a cut diamond that was unearthed at the crater in 1990 by Shirley Strawn, a local resident. The 1.09-carat StrawnWagner Diamond (originally weighing 3.30 carats in the rough) is a D-flawLeisureGroupTravel.com
A.C. Haralson, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
The Lodge at Mount Magazine offers 60 rooms and 13 cabins.
less gem and the most perfect diamond ever certified by the American Gem Society. A perfect 0/0/0 stone like this, known as a Triple Zero in the diamond industry, is so rare that some jewelers and gemologists never see one during their entire career. It is the highest grade a diamond can achieve.
Finders Keepers Other notable diamonds from the site include the 40.23-carat Uncle Sam, the largest diamond ever unearthed in the U.S. This white diamond with a rose tint was found in 1924 during an early mining operation that was located here long before the site became a state park. The 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight, a white gem discovered in 1975 by a visitor from Texas, is the largest diamond ever found by a park visitor. The first diamonds were discovered here in 1906. Since then, over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed. Of these, 27,000 were found by park visi-
Each cabin at Mount Magazine’s resort lodge has a wood-burning fireplace.
tors after the site became an Arkansas state park in 1972. The park policy is “finders keepers.” Any diamonds you find are yours to keep! Dogs often accompany their owners to the park. However, a not so common occasion is when one of the dogs finds a diamond. This past May a two-
year-old Yorkie named Tigger visited Crater of Diamonds State Park for the first time and found a beautiful, white 1.11-carat diamond. On average, two diamonds are found each day. The most common colors are white, brown and yellow, in that order. Other semi-precious gems and minerals
Digging for diamonds is the name of the game at the 37 ½-acre search area at Crater of Diamonds State Park. LeisureGroupTravel.com
August 2009 35
on location â?– south found at Crater of Diamonds include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite and quartz.
MOUNT MAGAZINE: ISLAND IN THE SKY
Picture Yourself in Springdale.
Ride a restored railcar through the scenic Boston Mountains. Root for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at Arvest Ballpark. Enjoy the indoor ice-skating rink at the Jones Center for Families. Step back in time at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark
restaurants and shops near all area attractions.
Since opening in 2006, the Arkansas state park systemâ€™s Lodge at Mount Magazine continues to stir excitement as one of The Natural Stateâ€™s new travel destinations for groups. On the south bluff of 2,753-foot Mount Magazine, Arkansasâ€™ high point, this 60-room resort lodge and its 13 cabins offer sweeping views of the Petit Jean River Valley and distant Blue Mountain Lake. Constructed at a cost of $33 million, these facilities comprise the largest, single capital investment in the 76-year history of Arkansasâ€™ state parks. Although the lodge and cabins are modern facilities, their designs featuring heavy timbers, wood and native stone emulate the rustic architectural style made popular in the 1930s. The lodge is a long three-wing complexâ€”the length of two-and-a-half football fieldsâ€”designed so that the main public rooms and all guest rooms offer a view of the surrounding Ozark National Forest in west-central Arkansas. The lodge includes the Skycrest Restaurant, an indoor swimming pool, fitness center and conference/meeting space. The 13 cabins feature one-, twoand three-bedroom designs. Each has a kitchen, private bath for each bedroom, wood-burning fireplace and an outdoor hot tub on a covered deck. The mountainâ€™s first hotel, the Skycrest Inn, was built around 1900 on the western end of the summit. The new state park lodge occupies the same location as the U.S. Forest Service lodge and restaurant built between 1939 and 1940 by the Works Progress Administration (and destroyed by fire in 1971). 36 August 2009
A park interpreter at Crater of Diamonds aids treasure hunters.
Arkansas State Parks developed the park on 2,234 acres of national forest lands atop Mount Magazine through a special use permit from the Forest Service. Park trails connect with a Forest Service trail to Cove Lake that can be enjoyed in as little as one hour or as long as an overnight backpacking experience.
Outdoor Activities The park offers a multi-use trail where ATV enthusiasts, hikers, bikers and horse riders can go to the park boundary and continue into Ozark National Forest for over 30 miles of some of the most scenic and rugged landscape in Arkansas. And Mount Magazine is Arkansasâ€™ only state park where adventure sports enthusiasts can hang glide, rock climb and rappel in the same park.
The patio at the Lodge at Mount Magazine affords grand views. LeisureGroupTravel.com
The mountain is home to a wide variety of wildlife, plant life and bird life. The park is the site of the annual International Butterfly Festival and home to more than 86 of the stateâ€™s 134 resident butterfly species. Mount Magazine offers a campground with 18 sites. For group gatherings, the park offers a modern, rusticstyle picnic pavilion with large barbecue grill/fireplace. The parkâ€™s visitor center includes a gift shop and an exhibit gallery showcasing the geology, history, flora and fauna of Mount Magazine. Park interpreters present programs about the history and natural diversity of this mountain, an island in the sky that rises dramatically above the surrounding river valleys. LGT
PLAN IT! Crater of Diamonds: 870-285-3113, craterofdiamondsstatepark.com Mount Magazine: 877-665-6343, mountmagazinestatepark.com
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52 weeks in the year.
52 unique group destinations.
Looking for new group travel ideas? #
Historic Mather Lodge, Petit Jean State Park
on our radar: south ❖
ALABAMA Birmingham, known for some major civil rights landmarks, has plans to spend $1 million to create a Civil Rights Trail to include lesser known but equally important places that were part of the movement in the late 1950s and early ’60s. The first phase of the trail is expected to be completed this year. Birmingham’s best-known civil rights landmarks are Kelly Ingram Park, where demonstrators were confronted by police dogs and fire hoses, and 16th Street Baptist Church, where in 1963 four little girls were killed by a Ku Klux Klan-planted bomb. For brochures on historic civil rights sites in the city, contact the Greater Birmingham CVB. (800-458-8085, inbirmingham.org) FLORIDA The “Barefoot Beach Babes” package at the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach (available through Dec. 24) includes two-night accommodations at the Island Grand or Sandpiper Suites, plus a beach tote for each person, stuffed with a beach towel, stylish pocket koozie, fun “beach read” magazine, decorative wine glass and a chocolate recipes booklet. The package also includes a bottle of Choc-a-bloc wine, a decadent chocolate wine, to share. Beginning at $476 for four adults ($119 per person), the package also includes the Resort Amenity Fee, which gives guests extra benefits at both TradeWinds properties, ranging from complimentary use of covered beach cabanas and fitness centers, to free self-parking and tennis court play. (866-587-8538, justletgo.com) GEORGIA Atlanta’s High Museum of Art presents Leonardo Da Vinci: Hand of the Genius from Oct. 6, 2009, to Feb. 21, LeisureGroupTravel.com
Louisiana’s grand Nottoway Plantation now has a museum and other new features.
2010. Featured will be 23 rare drawings by the master—the most to ever be displayed in the Southeast—and two sculptures newly attributed to Leonardo, plus works by Donatello and others who inspired him. Among other special exhibitions listed in the High’s 2009-2010 Group Planner is The Allure of the Automobile (March 20-June 20, 2010), a collection of 20 custom-designed cars from 1930 to 1960. (404-733-4550, high.org) KENTUCKY Lexington now has a closed doubledecker, British-made bus that’s ready for tours and sightseeing in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region. Commonwealth Doubledeckers’ 1955 Bristol Lodekka is available for private rental for tours and special occasions. A 1958 open-top Leyland Park Royal is undergoing some cosmetic renovation and will be available later in the summer. (859-948-8339) LOUISIANA Nottoway Plantation, under new management and fresh from an 11month restoration, just celebrated its grand reopening and 150th anniversary. Located at the edge of a sugarcane field
on the Great River Road in Iberville Parish, outside the town of White Castle, the majestic 1859 mansion boasts newly landscaped gardens with ponds and fountains, new signage, a new museum with mini-theater and four new overnight rooms in an outbuilding patterned after a plantation caretaker’s quarters of the 1800s. The other 14 guest rooms, including six inside the mansion, are newly decorated and feature updated bathrooms. Other additions include Ramsay’s Mansion Restaurant, carved from space in the home’s rotunda and facing a grove of live oaks. The new culinary team is from Chicago. Randolph’s, the previous restaurant, is now available for group lunches and special events. Also new are a business center, pastry cafe, poolside hot tub and cabana, and beauty salon and spa. Nottoway, owned by Australian Paul Ramsay since 1985, is the only plantation in Louisiana where guests can eat and sleep in the mansion. In addition to tours of the stately pillared home, sugar mill tours and golf outings can be arranged. Nottoway, closed for six months when renovations began in July of 2008, reopened for tours in January. (225-545-2730, nottoway.com) August 2009 39
on location: midwest â?–
Trailblazing In SLICES OF FRONTIER LORE ENCHANT GROUPS TOURING THE
SHOW ME STATE
The Tom Sawyer riverboat, departing from downtown St. Louis, offers one-hour sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River.
herever tourist paths lead, reminders of our pioneer past crop up every step of the way on a journey through Missouri. Travels back to the 1800s, when America was young, fresh and eager to explore its Western horizons, stirs up a sense of discovery
40 August 2009
and whiffs of nostalgia. Visions of Lewis & Clark, Mississippi riverboats, Tom Sawyer and the Pony Express create a colorful mosaic as you crisscross Missouri, a Midwestern state with a westward tilt. Thereâ€™s Civil War history as well.
Historical attractions, from Mark Twain sites in Hannibal to the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence, fit well into group itineraries. Museums in St. Joseph spotlight the noble Pony Express and infamous Jesse James. For me, Missouri starts in St. Louis, LeisureGroupTravel.com
home of the mighty Gateway Arch, Museum tells the story of St. Louis from which symbolizes the city as a portal to its frontier days in the 1700s, covering the American West. As an Illinois stu- everything from early fur traders and the dent who attended the University of Civil War to Cardinals baseball and civil Missouri-Columbia for four years, I rights struggles of the 1960s. An entire crossed the Mississippi River at St. gallery is devoted to the St. Louis Louis on many treks to the campus. My World’s Fair. Another major exhibition residence halls were named for Lewis & focuses on the life of aviation pioneer Clark and Mark Twain, names com- Charles A. Lindbergh and his historic monly encountered across the state. 1927 transatlantic flight on the Spirit At the Gateway Arch, a tourist magnet on grassy grounds sloping to the downtown riverfront, activities range from viewing the gianttory of wedding fashion. Docentscreen movie Lewis & Clark: Great led tours of the museum are availJourney West to riding the tram to able at $3 per person. General the top of the 630-foot silvery span. admission to the museum is free; For another perspective, consider a there is a fee for some special exMississippi River sightseeing cruise hibitions. (mohistory.org) on the replica steamboats Tom If visiting the St. Louis area, don’t overlook the Missouri River Sawyer and Becky Thatcher. city of St. Charles. Though I had Under the Arch, at the excelbeen to St. Louis many times, I lent, free-admission Museum of had always bypassed it until my Westward Expansion, follow in the footsteps of Native Americans, trip this past spring. St. Charles, Lewis & Clark, cowboys, soldiers with a population of 283,000 and and pioneers. More free exhibits just 10 minutes from St. Louis await at the nearby Historic Old International airport, is a major Courthouse, where Dred Scott, a urban center, but its historic slave, asked for his freedom in a fashopping district, the largest in mous case that preceded the Civil Missouri, is a charming place to Exhibits recall the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. War. The museums, boat cruises commune with the past. and Arch are all part of the Jefferson Na- of St. Louis. Treasures of Napoleon, runAlong the brick sidewalks of treetional Expansion Memorial, a National ning from Nov. 21, 2010, to Feb. 13, lined, brick-paved Main Street, more Park Service site. (gatewayarch.com) 2011, will shine a light on France’s than 70 specialty shops housed in 19th Forest Park, west of downtown, is Napoleon Bonaparte, whose govern- century brick buildings purvey ananother focal point for visitors, offering ment negotiated the Louisiana Purchase tiques, artwork, luxury soaps, candles, such free attractions as the St. Louis with the fledgling United States. gourmet foods, British imports, and For groups, the Missouri History Mu- other craft and gift items. Restaurants Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, St. Louis Art Museum and Missouri His- seum can arrange for historical characters range from fine dining salons to casual tory Museum. Larger than New York’s (like a Civil War spy or abolitionist mar- cafes and a microbrewery set in a 1760s Central Park, the vast green oasis was tyr) to perform in one- and two-person grist mill. Exposed beams and brick the site of the 1904 World’s Fair, offi- plays. The 15- to 20-minute presenta- walls accent many dining rooms, and cially the Louisiana Purchase Exposi- tions ($75) include a brief question-and- patios appeal to al fresco fans. Cliption; its Fine Arts Palace houses the St. answer period. The same charge applies clopping horse carriages and old-style Louis Art Museum. to private curator talks on such subjects as gas lamps add to the ambience. Many The group-friendly Missouri History the World’s Fair, Lindbergh and the his- festivals spice the calendar. LeisureGroupTravel.com
August 2009 41
on location: midwest ❖ The St. Charles CVB can provide step-on and walking tour guides in period dress. Sights include Missouri’s First State Capitol (restored to its 182126 appearance) and the riverfront Lewis & Clark Nature Center and Boathouse. The latter attraction features replica boats used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, which headed west from St. Charles in 1804. A complimentary trolley serves the historic district.
LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI Hannibal, about two hours north of St. Louis, is custom-made for group tours and was a highlight of my recent Missouri trip. Brimming with 19th century charm, the Mississippi River town was the boyhood home of America’s most famous author, providing inspiration for Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) to create the tales of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. A year-long calendar of festivities in 2010 will observe the 100th anniversary of his death and 175th anniversary of his birth. With a Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum ticket, group members can take a self-guided walk through the compact historic district, mixing visits to seven museum buildings with stops in downtown gift and antique shops, art
Relive the Old West at the National Frontier Trails Museum in Independence.
galleries, cafes, bakeries and ice cream parlors. The ticket allows entrance into the Interpretive Center, Mark Twain Boyhood Home, Huckleberry Finn House and Museum Gallery, among other places with a Twain connection. The Museum Gallery, two blocks from the boyhood home, boasts one of Twain’s trademark white coats and 15 original Norman Rockwell oil paintings that illustrated special editions of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Besides dozens of Twain books in museum shops, you will find huckleberry jam, huckleberry syrup, even huckleberry pretzels. (marktwainmuseum.org)
Tales of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher enchant visitors to Hannibal. 42 August 2009
Visitors also can tour the historic district via trolley, Twainland Express “choo choo” or horse-drawn wagon. Sightseeing and dinner cruises are available on the Mark Twain Riverboat; groups can book lunch cruises as well. For panoramic views of Old Man River, go to Lovers Leap (outside of town) or hike to the blufftop Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse, passing the Tom & Huck statue at the end of Main Street. Two actors in town portray America’s first worldwide celebrity in onehour shows full of humor and satire. Other entertainment options: The Spratt Family Dinner Theatre and refurbished 1906 Star Theatre, where groups can enjoy a classic movie with dinner. Downtown’s Main Street Cinema recently opened as Missouri’s first all-digital movie theater complex. One of my favorite Hannibal taste treats was the butterscotch chocolate chip pie at Ole Planters Restaurant, a homey place in an 1836 building on Main Street. Depending on the day you visit, pies (featured on the Food Network) may include German chocolate, gooseberry, apple cream cheese or strawberry rhubarb. The vinegar pie is a bit like custard or chess. Other crowd-pleasers are the burgers, barbeLeisureGroupTravel.com
and beef, chicken-fried steak and pork tenderloin sandwich with barbecue sauce. In a wooded hollow south of town, more Twain lore surfaces on tours of Mark Twain Cave. As a boy, Clemens explored the cave, which he mentions in five of his books but made famous in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The cave complex also includes Cameron Cave, the newest of Missouri’s 18 show caves open for tours; the intricate maze is toured only by lantern. On the other side of the state, Independence is a city jampacked with things for groups to see and do. The National Frontier Trails Museum tells the story of hardy traders, trappers and settlers who headed west from Independence, the jumping-off point of the Santa Fe, California and Oregon Trails. Groups can tour the city on Pioneer Trails Adventures’ mule-drawn covered wagons. Grand historic homes, like the 1852 Bingham-Waggoner Estate and 1881 Vaile Mansion, also take visitors down the past lane.
125 spacious guest rooms 2 meeting rooms for corporate or social events 10 spectacular Walk of Fame Suites 5 Cosmic King – Jacuzzi Rooms Rooftop Terrace Bar with fabulous downtown views Luxurious lobby and sleek décor Convenient location - just steps from The Pageant,Washington University, Forest Park, MetroLink and more.
For further information, contact a reservation specialist at 877.872.1122
WILD ABOUT HARRY Historic Independence Square, where thousands began their journey west, abounds with restaurants, specialty and antique shops, and historical sites like the 1859 Jail and Marshal’s Home. Dominating the square is the Historic Jackson County Truman Courthouse, where Independence native Harry Truman began his political career as a county judge. Truman’s first job was at nearby Clinton’s Soda Fountain, a delightful lunch or ice cream stop. Truman’s home on Delaware Street, where he lived from 1919 until his death in 1972, is not conducive to large groups because guided tours are limited to eight people (and it’s closed for renovations through next spring). But the exhibits and films at the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, one of the best presidential museums in the country, can keep guests engaged for hours. Groups can walk into a replica Oval Office, take part in interactive “Decision” theaters and visit the graves of Harry and Bess. This year a special exhibit with photographs (some never seen before) and rarely seen artifacts marks the 125th anniversary of Truman’s birth in Lamar, LeisureGroupTravel.com
The difference is night and day…
August 2009 43
on location: midwest ❖ participants to take on the roles of Truman and his advisers. (trumanlibrary.org) The Missouri River town of St. Joseph, an hour north of Kansas City, overflows with stories of frontier daring, none more compelling than the Pony Express. A legendary chapter in American history that began on April 3, 1860, the short-lived transcontinental mail service between St. Jo and Sacramento is immortalized in the Pony Express Museum, which occupies the stables where the riders left on horseback. Museumgoers see what riders confronted—wild animals, brutal weather, bands of Indians—and The Pony Express Monument in St. Joseph commemorates the city’s pioneer heritage. get a look at a typical relay station, where the rider had about Mo. His post-presidency office at the li- two minutes to get a drink, go to the brary, closed for restoration since 2006, bathroom and change the mochila (sadjust reopened to the public. dle bag) over to a fresh horse. The library can offer rooms for lunch The Pony Express office was at the and special programs for groups, or an Patee Hotel, now the Patee House appearance and press conference with Museum. A rambling, high-ceilinged the 33rd commander in chief. For stu- building that served as a hotel three dent and adult groups, the White times, a girl’s college twice and a shirt House Decision Center half-day pro- factory for more than 80 years, the mugram recreates the West Wing for a seum is crammed with antiques, from hands-on history simulation that allows fire trucks and vintage cars to a covered wagon and locomotive. Peek into shops on the “Streets of Old St. Jo,” including a fully stocked general store and the dentist office of Walter Cronkite’s father. Visitors can sip a sarsaparilla and listen to the nickelodeon in the 1854 Buffalo Saloon and ride the 1941 Wild Thing Carousel, whose lead animal is a Pony Express horse. Groups like the Pony Express Museum in St. Jo. On the Patee House 44 August 2009
grounds is the Jesse James Home Museum, a small frame house where the outlaw was shot and killed in 1882 by fellow gang member Bob Ford. See the famous bullet hole, James’ death photo and items found in his grave during the 1995 exhumation. Groups will be fascinated by the Glore Psychiatric Museum, once known as State Lunatic Asylum No. 2. On display are a tranquilizer chair and other devices used to treat mental illness. During a tour, one group member gets to try on a straitjacket. Everyone pauses to examine a piece of art made from the contents of a patient’s stomach—buttons, pins, nails, etc. The museum complex also includes galleries devoted to St. Joseph history and local black culture. Whether your group is searching for quirky curiosities, pioneer heritage or big-city excitement, a Missouri odyssey promises tour trails ripe with discovery. Adventure awaits those who chart a course through the land of Mark Twain, Lewis & Clark and the Pony Express. LGT
PLAN IT! Missouri Division of Tourism: 800-519-2100, visitmo.com St. Louis CVC: 800-916-0092, explorestlouis.com Greater St. Charles CVB: 800-366-2427, historicstcharles.com Hannibal CVB: 866-263-4825, visithannibal.com Independence Tourism Department: 800-748-7323, visitindependence.com St. Joseph CVB: 800-785-0360, stjomo.com For more Missouri group tour ideas, see the article on Kansas City, Springfield, Joplin and Branson attractions at www.leisuregrouptravel.com/2009/Missouri _Ideas.pdf
on location: midwest ❖
Chicago Girlfriend Getaways
ALL THAT GLITTERS A visit to Chicago wouldn’t be complete without stopping in one of the city’s renowned museums. From Oct. 23, 2009 – March 28, 2010, Chicago’s Field Museum welcomes visitors to its cool new exhibition, The Nature of Diamonds. The Field’s group sales department (312-6657300, fieldmuseum.org) has designed an immersion itinerary around the exhibition with women of all ages in mind. Suggested group excursions: • Take a walking tour of the famous Tiffany domes of Chicago • Create your own sparkle – beaded necklaces, earrings or bracelets with a jewelry-making expert • Learn about the “Four C’s” of diamonds with a diamond buyer • Enjoy a South African wine lunch or dinner at Lawry’s The Prime Rib • Relax with a private champagne tasting and presentation • Indulge in a luxurious spa treatment GREEN GIRLFRIENDS North Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile offers a huge variety of fine retailers, restaurants and hotels. Girlfriends 46 August 2009
Gal groups like downtown Chicago.
GRN nail and facial therapies were designed to combat the adverse effects of environmental toxins on the skin while promoting relaxation and rejuvenation. Customizable group packages are available. (945 N. State St., 312-753-6500; exhalespa.com) Chicago’s First Lady Cruises. Architecture cruises (through Nov. 22) showcase some of Chicago’s most beautiful and famous buildings. The company embraces a comprehensive program to limit the environmental impact of its cruises. Its three vessels use 11 percent biodiesel fuel and recycle used oil, batteries, beverage containers, cardboards and papers. Brochures are printed on recycled paper and cruise maps are recycled as guests disembark. (Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive, 847-358-1330, cruisechicago.com)
free-range naturally fed beef, biodynamic wines and more. Of course, the 2008 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence doesn’t hurt either. (200 E. Chestnut St., 312-280-5454, saloonsteakhouse.com) NoMi Lounge and Garden in the Park Hyatt. This is a fabulous place to sip on some organic cocktails while waiting for reservations, meeting up with friends or just taking a few moments to kick back. The lounge’s signature drinks are crafted with organic vodka from Peak Spirits in Colorado and fresh-grown produce from Harvest Moon farms. (800 N. Michigan Ave., 312-239-4030, nomirestaurant.com) Exhale Spa. Exhale’s GRN (Grow, Restore, Nurture) product line is an ecoconscious, paraben-free skincare line that produces visible results while honoring Exhale’s dedication to sustainability. The
TRENDY TREASURES For those hip ladies who live to shop, the Belmont area can’t be beat. A short trip north of downtown, Belmont offers a great range of trendy, fashion-forward shops anchored at the intersection of Clark Street and Belmont Avenue. Shops offer a wide variety of clothes, accessories and other gear for any style you can think of. Favorites include The Alley, Tragically Hip, Pink Frog, Fashion Tomato and Hollywood Mirror. There are plenty of specialty shops selling used books, posters and gifts. Restaurant choices for those allday shopping jaunts include Ann Sather, the Swedish restaurant famous for its brunch menu; Philly’s Best, specializing in Philadelphia-style pizza and sandwiches; Shiroi Hana, a reasonably-priced sushi restaurant; and Giordano’s, featuring Chicago’s deep-dish pizza. LGT
will have no trouble enjoying this fashionable area in a totally eco-friendly way. Consider the following: Saloon Steakhouse. Enjoy an earthfriendly dinner at one of Chicago’s greenest restaurants. Saloon Steakhouse uses re-usable table coverings, energy-efficient lighting, recycled menus and to-go paper,
© City of Chicago/GRC
THERE’S NOTHING AVERAGE about today’s woman. She works hard and takes care of her family, whether that means plants, pets or children. She does it all. So why would she expect any less from a getaway with her girlfriends? From Lake Michigan to the Magnificent Mile to that hidden local hotspot, Chicago is a great destination for any group of women looking to relax, have fun and create some fantastic memories. Here are a few options:
ILLINOIS The Central Illinois town of Pontiac now has 19 outdoor murals for visitors to see. More than 150 artists from around the country, a creative group known as the Walldogs, gathered in Pontiac the last weekend in June to paint 18 outdoor, wall-size murals commemorating the town’s commercial, social and cultural history. A map/guide to the murals is available. For those who are unable to walk to all murals, the city can provide transportation and commentary via a guided tour on the Pontiac Jolly Trolley, which seats up to 30 persons and is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Pontiac’s most famous outdoor mural, at the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, shows a giant Route 66 shield; new landscaping includes bricks taken from the original Route 66. A new addition to the outdoor exhibit area is a wishing well that originally stood at the Wishing Well Motel in Countryside, Ill. Also housed in the old city hall/firehouse complex are the Livingston County War Museum and a collection of shops selling antiques,
on our radar: midwest ❖
Striking murals provide photo opportunities in downtown Pontiac, Ill.
gifts and Route 66 souvenirs. The City of Pontiac, with the cooperation of the Vermilion Players Theatre, now offers bus tours a light-hearted musical about the historic highway that ran through Pontiac on its way from Chicago to California. The production is staged at the historic Chautauqua Park Pavilion.
Only layers of glass separate Skydeck Chicago visitors from the ground below. 48 August 2009
The park has two of Pontiac’s three swinging bridges, another tour attraction. (800-835-2055, visitpontiac.org) The 103rd-floor Skydeck Chicago at Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) now includes The Ledge, a series of glass bays that extend 4.3 feet from the building, offering unobstructed views—1,353 feet straight down. The enclosed glass boxes rest between conveyer belts and retract into the building, allowing easy access for cleaning and maintenance. Located on the tower’s west side, each box can accommodate four to five people at a time, offering views of people, taxis and bridges over the Chicago River. Skydeck exhibits highlight the 110-story landmark, North America’s tallest building, and celebrate Chicago’s sports, pop culture, history, food, music and people. (312875-9447, theskydeck.com) The Wit, a 27-story boutique hotel, has just opened at one of the busiest intersections in the Loop, Chicago’s downtown business district. Facing the LeisureGroupTravel.com
May 1-8, 2010 elevated train (â€œLâ€?) tracks at State and Lake streets, the high-energy hotel is ideally situated in Chicagoâ€™s Theater District, just steps from the Goodman, Oriental and Chicago theaters. State and Lake, the ground-floor restaurant, is a contemporary gastropub offering an artisanal American menu. A glass stairway leads to Cibbo Matto (â€œcrazy foodâ€?), a fine dining restaurant with a modern Italian menu and a 30-foot ceiling fresco. Roof is a hip, indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge where fire pits lined with bar stools, a large projection screen on an outdoor wall, live music and DJs, and a telescope for sneaking peaks into surrounding buildings are all part of the experience at one of Chicagoâ€™s most talked about bars in the sky. A menu of 20 Italian-inspired small plates is executed from Roof â€™s own kitchen, with a pizza oven in the main bar area. The sleek, 298-room Wit, adorned with a yellow lightning bolt on the faĂ§ade, is a operated by Doubletree. (312-4670200, thewithotel.com) INDIANA The Indianapolis Museum of Art in spring of 2010 will open 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. Located on 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, a lake and meadows adjacent to the museumâ€™s current 52-acre campus, it will be one of the largest museum art parks in the country and the only one to feature the ongoing commission of site-specific sculptures. Eight inaugural works will respond to the parkâ€™s varied environments. One artist will create a floating island in the lake that can be approached by rowboat and explored by park visitors. The land, a former gravel pit, is bordered by the White River. Admission to the museum, including the new art park, is free. (imamuseum.org) LeisureGroupTravel.com
IOWA Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines will be the home to Pappajohn Sculpture Garden, a collection of 24 sculptures donated by John and Mary Pappajohn, well-known philanthropists in the community. A grand opening is set for September. The Pappajohns are known worldwide, and ARTnews magazine listed them as one of the top 200 art collectors in the world. The sculptures (by 15 internationally acclaimed modern and contemporary artists) purchased by the Pappajohns is the largest single public gift ($27.5 million) in Des Moinesâ€™ history and the largest public gift of art in Iowa history. The collection is expected to expand as the Pappajohns have indicated they will add to it in the future. (seedesmoines.com)
Celebrating tulips and Dutch culture for over 80 years!
Group Meals, Step-on-Guides, Group Discounts, Promotional DVD, Itinerary Assistance Parades, Concerts, Dutch Market, National & Local Talent, And so much more!
www.tuliptime.com For group sales call 1.800.822.2770 ext. 107
MINNESOTA The exhibit Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World is scheduled from Nov. 27 through July 4, 2010 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. Visitors will learn about the many accomplishments of this founding father, following him as an ambitious teenager in Boston and then traveling with him to Philadelphia, London and Paris. Along the way, they learn about Franklinâ€™s scientific experiments and civic initiatives and explore the world from his ever-curious point of view. On display will be some of Franklinâ€™s own possessions â€“ many of which have been handed down in his family and rarely seen in public. In the â€œElectricity Partyâ€? room, visitors get a charge out of learning about electricity. Hands-on experiments include a â€œpleasetouchâ€? generator. In another interactive display, visitors learn about printing apprentices and the challenges of setting type accurately, then set their own type on a touch screen. (651-259-3000, mnhs.org) August 2009 49
on our radar: midwest ❖
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OHIO The Cambridge/Guernsey County VCB offers girlfriend getaway packages in cooperation with Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center (Southeastern Med). A portion of each “Think Pink: Getaways with a Purpose” package sold is donated to Southeastern Med’s Pink Link Pass, a program that provides a free mammogram for underinsured or uninsured women. The Nov. 7-8 package will take place during Dickens Victorian Village. Participants will enjoy a special preview of the Guernsey County Music & Light display, take a “Spirit of Christmas” train ride on the Byesville Scenic Railway and a carriage ride through historic downtown Cambridge, enjoy high tea at My SweeTea Pie Tea Boutique and have dinner at the Colonel Taylor Inn B&B, a Victorian mansion. There will be lots of opportu-
Ladies groups will have a Dickens of a time in Cambridge, Ohio.
nities for holiday gift buying in the quaint shops along Wheeling Avenue. One trip in 2010 will feature a spa treatment, style show and shopping. On another, women will have the opportunity to participate in eco-friendly activities, including a tour of The Wilds and the Guernsey County Farmers Market. All attractions, events, restaurants
Potawatomi Bingo Casino Located in downtown Milwaukee, Potawatomi Bingo Casino offers more than 100 table games, including blackjack, craps, roulette and much more. In addition, the Casino’s Poker Room is open 24 hours and has 20 tables of limit and no-limit Texas Hold ’Em, Omaha and Seven Card Stud. For those who enjoy horse and greyhound racing, the Off-Track Betting Room simulcasts races held at tracks across the country. With 74 high-definition TVs, you won’t miss a second of the action. Slot players have a lot to be excited about – Potawatomi Bingo Casino features 3,100 slot machines in both smoking and non-smoking areas. From high-tech video slots to the latest in progressive banks, you’ll find a game suited just for you. Bingo is still a popular choice. The 1,354-seat Nest of Life Bingo Hall, with average daily payouts of $75,000, features both smoking and non-smoking sections and fills up quickly with guests who are ready to try their luck. (paysbig.com)
Bay Mills Resort & Casinos
1721 WEST CANAL STREET MILWAUKEE, WI 53233 1-800-PAYSBIG • PAYSBIG.COM MANAGEMENT RESERVES ALL RIGHTS • MAKE A SURE BET — KNOW YOUR LIMIT ©2009 FOREST COUNTY POTAWATOMI COMMUNITY, WISCONSIN
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An Upper Peninsula northwoods retreat, Michigan’s only waterfront casino overlooks Waishkey Bay on Lake Superior. Operated by the Bay Mills tribe of the Ojibwe Indians, the resort features a 144-room hotel, two gaming areas, a conference center, RV park, restaurants, a sports bar and lounges. Sacy’s restaurant offers an upscale dining experience, with signature menu items like Northern Michigan Wild Berry Toast and baby back ribs. The main resort’s spacious, 15,000square-foot gaming area boasts nearly 1,000 slot and video poker machines, plus table games like blackjack, roulette, craps and three-card poker. Guests also enjoy Royal Ascot video horse racing and “live” keno throughout the complex. There’s more gaming at the Kings Club Casino, Bay Mills’ original casino, which opened in 1984 as America’s first tribally operated blackjack casino. Shuttle buses connect Kings Club to the main resort, two miles away. Nearby is Wild Bluff Golf Course. (4baymills.com) LeisureGroupTravel.com
and lodging facilities in each of these packages are asked to donate a portion of their proceeds to Pink Link Pass. (800933-5480, visitguernseycounty.com) WISCONSIN History and Hollywood merge in The Era of Public Enemies: A Wave of Crime in a Troubled Time, the new gangsters exhibit at the Oshkosh Public Museum. Running through Oct. 18, it spotlights circumstances that led to the 1933-34 crime wave and inspired the filming of Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp. Assorted movie props, pieces of set design and a slideshow of images illustrate what went on in front of and behind the cameras during the movieâ€™s production in Wisconsin. Historical artifacts include weapons, a bullet-
proof vest, 1930s car paraphernalia and hood ornaments, and a 200-pound steel jail door. Displays also document the rise of the FBI and structured law enforcement as the feds attempted to take down American gangsters. Visitors can watch reels of a John Dillinger biography or pick up a 1930s telephone
and listen to one of Franklin D. Rooseveltâ€™s fireside chats. A shooting gallery lets guests experience the force behind firing the Thompson submachine gun. Living historians on select days portray gangsters, FBI agents, bartenders and bank tellers. (920-2365799, oshkoshmuseum.org)
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Pennsylvania Ladies sip, savor, shop and sightsee to their heart’s content in Hershey, Lancaster County and Philadelphia
t’s like dying and waking up in Chocolate Heaven. It’s hitting the shopping jackpot along a nearly endless trail of charming galleries, shops, farmers markets and flea markets, with an amazing array of outlet malls thrown in to kick up the variety about 10 notches. And it’s like scoring a bonus in the form of a mindbending blend of gardens, history, culture, arts and entertainment. “It” is the Southern Pennsylvania corridor bounded by Philadelphia on the east and Hershey on the west, with a fabulous filling of Lancaster County in the middle. And “it” represents the ideal place for a girlfriend escape – whether a carload or a coach-load. Without a doubt, Pennsylvania Dutch Country is one of my favorite destinations for a senior adult tour, but to think about it in terms of a girlfriend getaway required a serious paradigm shift. But very quickly, I found Hershey, Lancaster County and Philadelphia form the perfect trifecta for those times when “girls just wanna have fun!”
Historic Hotel Hershey
Girlfriends indulge at The Spa at Hotel Hershey, a luxury retreat.
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Any doubts I harbored melted as I blew into Philly in late March, an F-1 tornado hot on my heels, and sped the short distance to Hershey, arriving just in time to take refuge at the historic Hotel Hershey. And, voila! As if I needed a tangible sign this place is tailor-made for a girlfriend respite, it appeared before me as a group of pajama-clad, chocolate martini-sipping ladies having a big time in their commanLeisureGroupTravel.com
Gallery Row on Prince Street (left and center) anchors downtown Lancaster’s vibrant arts scene. Right: Longwood Gardens, a horticultural extravaganza, is a can’t-miss sight in the Brandywine Valley.
deered corner of the Iberian Lounge. What we all discovered within the walls of this crown jewel of Milton Hershey’s company town is a treasure trove of luxury and service, from the award-winning cuisine of the world-famous Circular Dining Room to the endless pampering of the Chocolate Spa. Don’t miss the Cocoa Facial Experience – a signature treatment. Chocolate-scented creams, lotions and scrubs that smell good enough to eat (but don’t!) are available for purchase to continue the experience at home. As part of its just-celebrated 75th anniversary, the “grand dame on the hill” is undergoing a multi-million-dollar Grand Expansion. By its scheduled completion at the end of 2009, the project will have upgraded the Circular Dining Room and the hotel’s entrance as well as added 10 uber-elegant cottages (perfect for a girlfriend group) in a wooded area behind the hotel.Very near the cottages, a new restaurant opens this summer as well an elaborate recreational area featuring an aquatic facility with an adults-only lap pool, cabanas and snack bar, plus year-round ice skating, tennis, hiking trails and more. Tempting as it may be never to leave the hotel, no trip to Hershey would be complete without a tour of The HerLeisureGroupTravel.com
shey Story – newly opened just this year. A high-tech, interactive journey through the life of chocolate magnate Milton Hershey, this gleaming new facility on Chocolate Avenue (aka Main
enter a chocolate lab and turn food scientist with a class in chocolate tempering or truffle-making, among other topics, or indulge in a full-on chocolate tasting offering a half-dozen samples of liquefied chocolates from around the world. (hersheystory.org)
Hershey’s Chocolate World offers a tour, show and irresistible candy shop.
Street) could be an all-day experience. Fascinating exhibits convey Hershey’s rise to success (following several notable business failures), while Cafe Zooka is a perfect choice for lunch or some serious snacking. For a nominal fee, visitors can
Don’t leave town without stopping at Hershey’s Chocolate World. A Disneyesque attraction devoted to – you guessed it – all things chocolate, features a 3-D animated musical show as well as Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour. The latter takes visitors on a musical journey through the art of chocolate-making as told by animatronic cows. At the end of this jaunt, get ready to shop for all things Hershey – and Reese’s and York – well, think Chocolate Heaven. If sugar coma hasn’t set in, there’s an ice cream parlor and bakery offering treats so decadent, they defy description! (hersheypa.com) Well-stocked and well-stuffed, we departed Hershey en route to Lancaster. Halfway there, we arrived in the village of Mount Joy and had a memorable dining experience at Bube’s Brewery. This National Register historic building houses three very different restaurants (The Alois Experience, The Bottling August 2009 53
Works & Biergarten and The Catacombs) and an inn whose 12 individually themed rooms take kitsch to a delightful level. A tour of this historic brewery led us down level upon level, ending 35 feet underground in The Catacombs and its medieval-themed dining rooms festively illuminated with strings of white lights and candles. Our server, Elizabeth, regaled us with ghost stories while we perused an extensive menu. The food, the wine and the ambience were all delightful, but the peanut butter pie remains wedged in our memory forever!
Downtown Lancaster On to the city of Lancaster, where we checked into the all-suite Best Western Eden Resort, with rooms spacious enough to accommodate a queen-sized pajama party. The next morning, it was off to breakfast at the nation’s oldest farmers market in the heart of downtown. Lancaster Central Market, housed in an 1889 Victorian building, has operated continuously since 1730. Today there are 57 stands,each owned by a local person, family or business and offering not only fresh produce, but fresh baked desserts and breads, jams, candies, meats, flowers, crafts and gifts. The market op-
erates each Tuesday and Friday from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m., so plan accordingly. (lancastercentralmarket.com) Within a two-block radius of the market are intriguing museums and galleries, including the not-to-be-missed Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum (lancasterquiltmuseum.com) with its collection of authentic 19th and early 20th century Amish quilts and decorative needlework. Just up the street is the Heritage Center Museum, filled with furniture, textiles and other decorative artifacts from the Amish, Mennonites, Quakers and Moravians. And art-loving girlfriends will go wild exploring the more than 30 studios along Lancaster’s Gallery Row. By now, any average girlfriend crew would be approaching sensory overload, but downtown Lancaster offers just a preview of the treats that line Old Philadelphia Pike corridor. It’s easy to get distracted by the allure of antique shops, farmers markets and villages, each progressively more appealing than the ones before. But, Kitchen
Girlfriends in Pennsylvania Dutch Country find gifts and goodies at the Lancaster Central Market (left) and treasure-filled antique malls.
54 August 2009
Photos by Melinda Hughey
on location: northeast ❖
The “Cannin’ and Jammin’ Experience” at Kitchen Kettle Village lets guests make a jar of jam to take home. Kettle Village in Intercourse, with its 42 shops and restaurants surrounding Lancaster County’s leading canning kitchen, tops them all. Shops devoted to pottery, brass, flowers, dolls, bags, quilts, art, potpourri, soaps and even a boutique called Girls Day Out encircle the Jam & Relish Kitchen, where more than 80 varieties are prepared and available for tasting and purchase. Their “Cannin’ & Jammin’ Experience” lets participants roll up their sleeves and make a jar of jam to take home. Kitchen Kettle Village even offers a customized Girlfriends Package with overnight lodging at The Inn at Kitchen Kettle Village (and late check-out!), breakfast, dinner, free jam and relish sampling, quilt stitching, and the choice of a guided walking tour of the Village, the Cannin’ & Jammin’ tour or a starter Pandora or Brighton charm bracelet for each girlfriend. (kitchenkettle.com) Rounding out this region are a massive number of outlet malls as well as plenty of options for evening entertainment, including the Sight & Sound and American Music Theaters, or dining in an Amish home. LeisureGroupTravel.com
Lancaster County’s lush, rolling farmland scenery faded from view as we made our way toward Philadelphia. Detouring through the Brandywine Valley, we stopped at Longwood Gardens, with its 1,050 acres of stunning scenery. It was our good fortune to visit during the annual Orchid Extravaganza. Comfortable shoes are a must for exploring the 40 outdoor and indoor gardens with four acres of heated greenhouses thrown in for good measure. Developed by industrialist and philanthropist Pierre S. du Pont, this magnificent horticultural showplace also incorporates an expansive gift shop, dining options and du Pont’s home. (longwoodgardens.org)
Philadelphia Freedom Thirty miles later, we rolled into Philadelphia and found our lodging at the Holiday Inn Historic District, ideally situated within easy walking distance of major sites, such as the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Following an impromptu recommendation, we strolled to City Tavern, where we enjoyed dinner amidst 18th century ambience. Calling itself “the birthplace of American cuisine” (and, rightfully so, having been established in 1773), no less than members of the Second Continental Congress dined here regularly. With its contrast of historic and contemporary, Philadelphia presents a profusion of eclectic delights for girlfriend groups of every stripe. We hopped aboard the Philadelphia Trolley Works for an overview of the city and found it to be an excellent and affordable way to navigate. With 20 strategic stops, the trolley enables energetic girlfriends to hit the world-class Philadelphia Museum of Art (with its current Matisse exhibit through October 25, to be followed by special showings of the works of Picasso and Renoir LeisureGroupTravel.com
in 2010), Antique Row, Penn’s Landing and the Waterfront, Chinatown and the Historic District in a single day. Sightseeing conquered, foodies can take a culinary tour that guides them through a myriad of tasting experiences (ours consisted of cheese, chocolate and exotic teas), graze their way through the Reading Terminal Market or take in an elegant High Tea at the posh Four Seasons Hotel. Shoppers should tackle Rittenhouse Row, which is actually more of a district that encompasses The Avenue of the Arts and bordered by Broad, 22nd, Pine and Market streets. Everything from high fashion to funky boutiques, chain stores and bistros are here. Live theater in Philadelphia ranges from Broadwaycompany productions at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to cozier productions at the Walnut Street Theatre, America’s oldest (1809) as well as the official state theater of Pennsylvania. For the super-energetic (or insomniacs), nightclubs offer every music genre imaginable. With enough activity in each place to sustain a week-long getaway, taking the time to plot strategy and plan a balanced itinerary based on your group’s preferences is well worth the effort. After my journey to Southern Pennsylvania, I can’t wait to return – this time with a full coach! LGT
PLAN IT! Hershey-Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau: 717-231-2992, hersheyharrisburg.org Pennsylvania Dutch CVB: 717-735-0311 padutchcountr y.com Philadelphia CVB: 215-636-3300 philadelphiausa.travel
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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Washington, D.C.’s National Geographic Museum will be the final stop for Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China’s First Emperor, the largest collection of ancient artifacts to ever travel to the U.S. from China. Running Nov. 19-March 31, 2010, the exhibition features 15 lifesized terra cotta figures unearthed from the tomb of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, who ruled from 221-210 B.C. Considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th century, the First Emperor’s enormous tomb complex contains thousands of terra cotta warriors intended to protect him in the afterlife. The terra cotta warriors were discovered in 1974 by a group of farmers digging a well near Xi’an in Shaanxi province. To capitalize on the buzz and record-breaking attendance the exhibition has generated in its prior U.S. stops (Orange County, Calif., Atlanta and Houston), DC’s cultural and tourism communities are planning a citywide promotion of Chinese culture and cuisine, complete with hotel packages and special restaurant menus. (warriorsdc.org) MARYLAND The 17-acre Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park is planned for Dorchester County, close to Cambridge and adjacent to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. It would include a visitor center, memorial garden, exhibits, trails and picnic pavilions. Officials at the Maryland Tourism Office expect the visitor center to open by 2013 – possibly in spring 2012 – coinciding with the state’s plans to honor Tubman’s life on the 100-year anniversary of her death. Federal legislation was introduced in 56 August 2009
there during the first 29 years of her life. After she escaped, she returned to the region to ferry enslaved people out of Maryland during the years leading up to the Civil War.
The terra cotta warriors of Xi’an, China, will be on exhibit in Washington, D.C.
2008 to create Harriet Tubman National Historical Parks in Maryland and Auburn, New York – where Tubman spent the second half of her life. The bill enables the federal government to include the Tubman state park in the proposed national park, allowing the National Park Service to co-manage it with the state of Maryland. Tubman was born in Dorchester County. She was enslaved
NEW YORK New York City Vacation Packages (NYCVP) is offering two indoor viewing venues for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Its “Insider’s View Parade Breakfasts” will take place at the Marriott Marquis’ 8th floor Broadway Lounge and on the 2nd floor of the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers. Both events include full buffet breakfasts and wide window space overlooking the parade route. Participants will have the opportunity to take a motorcoach tour on Wednesday afternoon to the balloon inflation area to see the parade begin to take shape - and to see the giant balloons as they’re slowly inflated. The price for a complete commissionable package begins at $1,198 per person (based on two adults sharing a room) for four nights’ accommodations at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Tower, the “Insider’s View Parade
African American Museum of Philadelphia’s new core exhibit explores freedom. LeisureGroupTravel.com
Breakfast,â€? all taxes and free admission to several attractions. Airfare, Broadway shows, Radio City Christmas Spectacular tickets, sightseeing, Thanksgiving Dinner Buffet and other meals are additional. (877-692-8747, nyctrip.com) PENNSYLVANIA The African American Museum in Philadelphia just opened its first core exhibition, Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 â€“ 1876. The state-of-the-art interactive exhibit gives visitors a face-to-face encounter with the people who dared to challenge conventional attitudes and celebrate their belief that African Americans had the right to be free. In Gallery 2, visitors will be surrounded by what appear to be 10 full-size figures of trailblazers from 18th century Philadelphia. The figures are actually full-size video projections, patiently waiting for a visitor to approach and actively engage them. Once activated, the individual trailblazer delivers an impassioned monologue about life in Philadelphia during the time period. Adjacent to each full-size screen will be a small touch-screen complete with a menu of topics that the trailblazer will discuss upon activation. The museum is close to the National Constitution Center and Independence Visitors Center. (215-574-0380, aampmuseum.org) The nationâ€™s largest and most comprehensive permanent robotics exhibition recently opened at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Called â€œroboworld,â€? the $3.4-million exhibition features more than 30 hands-on, interactive exhibit stations in three thematic areas focusing on robotic sensing, thinking and acting. Visitors can try to out-shoot Hoops, a basketball shooting industrial arm, or beat a robot at air hockey. They can experience the world as a robot sees it through a series LeisureGroupTravel.com
of sensors, discover how robots can read facial expressions and even chat with a robot. Visitors can have a picture taken with their favorite science fiction robots in the Robot Hall of Fame. (412-237-3400, carnegiesciencecenter.org)
VERMONT Finer Vermont Tours of Killington offers â€œFun Foods and Family Farms of Vermont,â€? a new four-day/three-night tour for 2010. Highlights include an apple orchard and cider mill, cheese farm, alpaca
%JTDPWFSPOFPG/FX&OHMBOEÂľT GBWPSJUFHSPVQUSBWFMBUUSBDUJPOT Explore a wonderland of fun ... visit with Santa â€Ś catch snowflakes year â€™round in the Black Forest â€Śstroll through our authentic Bavarian Christmas Village â€Ś learn how candles are made in our Candlemaking Museum â€Ś create your own special souvenirs â€“ multi-scented jar candles, wax hands and custom dipped candles at WaxWorksâ„˘â€Ś and so much more! Shop for a wide range of home furnishings, seasonal decorations, collectibles, gourmet foods, unique toys, and distinctive gifts for every occasion. Plus, satisfy every food craving with dinner at our award-winning Chandlerâ€™s Restaurant, sandwiches and more at Mrs. Claus Bakery & CafĂŠ or the sweet taste of our famous fudge. Contact our Group Tour Department today to learn more! email@example.com
* &YJUÂ…(SFFOGJFME3PBEÂ…4PVUI%FFSGJFME ." Â…XXXZBOLFFDBOEMFDPN
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Plan Your Group Trip to
FEATURING: Broadway Musicals Live Orchestra 7 Main Entrée Buffet 2 Salad Bars Vegetarian Friendly Make-Your-Own Sundae Bar Free Motorcoach Parking Complimentary Tickets for Escort and Driver
RESERVE SEATS TODAY! THEATRE OF COLUMBIA: 410-730-8311 or 1-800-88TOBYS THEATRE OF BALTIMORE: 410-649-1660 or 1-866-99TOBYS 58 August 2009
farm and maple sugar farm. Also featured are Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory tour, Danforth Pewter and Green Mountain Coffee. A gourmet luncheon at an inn includes a cooking demo. The package (from $297 double) includes lodging in the Killington/Rutland area and some meals. The company’s other tours include “The Best of Vermont and New Hampshire” (three nights), plus spring, late fall and Christmas packages featuring the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe. (802-4223040, finervermonttours.com) The Rowland Agricultural Center is the newest attraction at Hildene, the Manchester estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, the son of President Abraham Lincoln. An example of small-scale niche farming in Vermont, it shows the entire cheese-making process, from milking Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats through processing and packaging to the aging room. Most of the furniture in the 24-room Hildene mansion is original to the Lincolns as no other family ever occupied the home. The last Lincoln descendant living at Hildene died in 1975. Among rare artifacts on exhibit are one of three remaining Abraham Lincoln stovepipe hats still in existence and the White House dressing room mirror he used before the assassination at Ford’s Theatre. Groups also can
tour the estate’s various gardens and enjoy lunch in the picnic pavilion adjacent to the newly renovated Welcome Center. A bag lunch from one of Manchester’s cafes is $10. Contact: Paula Maynard, Tour Group Coordinator, 802-367-7961, firstname.lastname@example.org. (hildene.org). The Essex, Vermont’s Culinary Resort & Spa just opened a full-service, 21,000-square-foot spa with a 25-yard indoor pool, outdoor hot tub, 10 treatment rooms, spa cuisine, a fitness center and locker rooms featuring steam rooms, saunas and relaxation areas. The 120-room Burlington-area resort, formerly known as The Inn at Essex, has expanded its reach by offering more activities, including a challenge course complete with twin, fourstory ziplines, climbing wall and ropes course. An Orvis-endorsed fly casting pond also is new, and guided trips to Northern Vermont’s trout-rich waters are available. A cooking theater hosts a variety of classes in partnership with the New England Culinary Institute, which provides the resort’s restaurants with NECItrained chefs and student interns. Other activities include golf, tennis, hiking, biking, swimming in a heated outdoor pool and hot air balloon rides. Within walking distance of the AAA Four Diamond resort is a designer shopping mall. (800-7274295, vtculinaryresort.com)
Tropicana Casino & Resort Beachfront location. Award-winning restaurants, shops, spa and entertainment. World-class gaming. Luxurious rooms. Experience it all at the premier getaway destination in Atlantic City - Tropicana Casino & Resort. Tropicana’s The Quarter is a Havana-themed retail, entertainment and dining complex all under one roof. With 10 world-renowned restaurants, 25 retail stores, a sizzling night scene, indulgent day spa and IMAX Theater, The Quarter offers something for everyone. Tropicana definitely delivers in gaming excitement. With more than 3,200 slots and 135 table games, a 35-table poker room, simulcast and exclusive player benefits for Diamond Club card members, no matter what your game is – Tropicana has it! From new slot areas like Palm Cove and Havana Rooftop slots to one of AC’s largest poker rooms, the action is never far away. It’s a whole new experience at The Tropicana, Atlantic City’s premier place to play. Visit www.tropicana.net today for more information. LeisureGroupTravel.com
N e w A u t u m n Special
Tour Highlights: • New River Special All Day Train
$3 2 4
• Huntington City Tour • “We Are Marshall Movie Sites”
Per Person, Double
’ • Dinner at Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe
• Heritage Farm Museum & Village
• Blenko Glass Factory Tour • Two Hotel Breakfasts • Two Nights First Class Lodging • All Taxes & Tips on these services • Luggage Handling
8 8 8- 39 3- 86 8 7
• One Free with Every 16 Paid
Colorado Railroads Best of the West Train Rides Seven Days - Six Trains
$9 4 9
Per Person, Double
Tour Highlights: • • • • •
8 8 8- 39 3- 86 8 7
• • • • • • • •
Six Nights First Class Lodging Six Hotel Breakfasts Three Dinners Two Lunch Six Train Rides The Georgetown Scenic Railroad The Silverton - Durango Railroad The Cumbres & Toltec Railroad The Toltec Limited Rio Grande Scenic Railroad The Pikes Peak Cog Railroad or Royal Gorge Route Denver City Tour Lebanon Silver Mine Corkscrew Mountain Jeep Tour Garden of Teh Gods Manitou Cliff Dwellings All Taxes & Tips on these services Luggage Handling One Free with Every 16 Paid
on location: west ❖
Striking it Rich on Tribal Lands Native American casinos bring glitz and glamor to many parts of the West
icture a Las Vegas casino equipped with 3,700 slot machines. The casino also offers 130 table games, including blackjack, poker, mini baccarat and craps. In an adjacent resort, visitors can enjoy relaxing at a spa, attending a world-class performance at a theater or golfing on an expansive course. The place emanates an atmosphere of decadence, luxury and free-wheeling fun. Now picture that casino, not in Las Vegas, but in a California valley. The pleasure palace in question is Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. The state’s largest casino, Pechanga LeisureGroupTravel.com
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians operates Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, Calif.
is one of many Native American casinos that have sprung up across the nation in recent years. Its gaming floor takes up 188,000 square feet of floor space. The largest casino in Las Vegas, MGM Grand, is 16,500 square feet smaller and has 1,000 fewer slot machines. These statistics, which place a Native American casino in California on a par with the largest casino in the gambling capital of the United States, show how far Native American gaming has come since its humble beginnings in 1979. The movement that led to the pro-
liferation of casinos like Pechanga began in 1979 when the Seminole tribe of Florida opened a high-stakes bingo hall. The state tried to shut down the operation, and a series of court battles ensued. Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Seminole tribe. Eight years later, in the case California vs. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that as sovereign nations, Native American tribes have the right to open gambling operations even if gambling is illegal elsewhere in the state. Since that ruling, more than 400 Native American August 2009 61
on location: west ❖ gaming operations have sprung up across the United States. Around 40 percent of the 562 federally recognized tribes engage in gaming. Tribes that suffer from poverty and unemployment often turn to the gaming industry to stimulate economic growth and create jobs. Casino profits go directly to the tribal government, which uses the funds for social services, scholarships and community development. For example, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Native American Reservation (approximately 2,700 members) own the Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton, Ore., which employs 505 people. The tribes use some of the casino’s profits to restore the salmon population in the Columbia River basin—protecting a species that has been central to the tribes’ cultural since time immemorial. Although a typical Native American casino resembles any other casino in most ways, some do offer access to Native American culture. Jackson Rancheria Casino in Jackson, Calif., serves dishes such as Native American tacos and fry bread. Farther north on
The Tamastslikt Cultural Institute at Oregon’s Wildhorse Casino.
the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington, the Suquamish Clearwater Casino keeps museum-quality works of Native American art in its gallery. Those wishing to further explore Indian culture can visit the nearby Suquamish Museum and Cultural Center. Many Western casinos have an advantage over those in other parts of the country because they are close to reservations that welcome visitors. Guests of Casino del Sol (near Tucson) can visit the nearby Pascua Yaqui tribe to observe their famous Easter ceremonies. Some Pueblo Indians in
the Southwestern United States still live in the adobe communities built by their ancestors. Native American resorts host many of the world-class entertainers that grace the stages of their counterparts in Las Vegas. Stars like Liza Minnelli, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby, Ray Romano and Bob Dylan have all traveled to the Temecula Valley to give performances at Pechanga’s theater. The resort regularly puts on productions of Broadway musicals. Casinos have so far proved very successful for many tribes. Fire Rock Casino in Church Rock, N.M., owned by the Navajo nation, currently has almost a 60 percent EBITA (net profit before interest, tax and amortization expenses)—and the number seems to be going up. The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise is planning three new casinos in Arizona and New Mexico. One of the best things about Native American casinos is that they’re almost everywhere in the West. So wherever you’re headed, you can do what generations before you have done—trust your luck. LGT
Red Lion Hotel & Casino
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino
Red Lion Hotel & Casino in Elko, Nev., is the perfect homeon-the-road for both business and pleasure travelers. From wireless Internet to in-room safes, I-Pod docks and jack packs, the Red Lion offers its guests security and state-of-theart convenience. An Elko landmark for more than a quarter century, the hotel has undergone a recent renovation with an eye toward offering guests a level of comfort that exceeds their expectations. Rooms feature comfy pillowtop beds, flatscreen TVs, easy chairs and many other amenities. The Red Lion boasts 222 guest rooms, two restaurants, 24-hour gaming, a fitness center, gift shop, sports bar and Starbucks. Shuttle service is available to the city’s other attractions. Convenient to Interstate 80, the Elko Red Lion is also the perfect location for meetings and social gatherings. With venues ranging from intimate meeting rooms and a spacious ballroom to a full casino showroom. Truly a full-service hotel-casino, the Red Lion can accommodate almost any size group. (redlionhotelelko.com)
Located on the western slope of `the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in the California town of Coarsegold, Chukchansi Gold offers 56,000 square feet of gaming space. Featured are more than 1,800 slot machines, with 900 penny and nickel machines in addition to $1, $5, $25 and $100 slots. Among the 46 table games are 3-Card Poker, Blackjack and Spanish 21. The new enclosed 3 Peaks Poker Room offers Texas Hold ’Em, 7-Card Stud and Omah. In addition to the signature Vintage Steak & Seafood Restaurant, dining choices include the all-you-caneat California Market Buffet, classic Italian cuisine at Nativo’s and Deuces Diner, a ’50s-style spot for hamburgers, fries and milkshakes. Guest room amenities include safe, mini-refrigerator, high-speed Internet and complimentary rubber duckies. Operated by the Chukchansi Indians, the resort also offers rejuvenating treatments at Serenity Springs Spa and live music or karaoke on weekends at Casa de Fuego nightclub. The group sales department can arrange overnight and day trip packages. (chukchansigold.com)
62 August 2009
on our radar: west ❖
CALIFORNIA A little over a year after fire damaged the world’s largest working movie studio lot, Universal Studios Hollywood has reopened most of its iconic sets for group tours and unveiled innovative shooting locations designed to meet contemporary film production needs. The new and recreated sets are featured on the “Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour,” recently upgraded with Hi-Def digital servers and flat-screen monitors on trams. Production has resumed on the world-famous Courthouse Square, Brownstone Street and an enhanced New York Street. New locations include a gas station, firehouse, London Street and, most notably, a modern cityscape with glass-and-steel facade structures. The contemporary cityscape is the largest urban backlot shooting location in Los Angeles. Additional sets are under construction and expected to open in 2010. Also featured on the tour is the new studio of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, which recently moved from New York to California. (universal studioshollywood.com) HAWAII The new Honolulu Surfing Museum, located next to Jimmy Buffett’s Restaurant and Bar at the OHANA Waikiki Beachcomber, offers an interactive immersion into Hawaii’s surfing culture. The museum explores the origins, evolution and current state of surfing, showcasing top surfing legends from past and present. Memorabilia includes vintage surfboards, classic surfing footage, Hollywood props and a historical collection of musical instruments that are unique to Hawaii. Video monitors throughout the exhibit run nonstop loops of surfing highlights filmed by several of the sport’s most respected cinematographers intertwined with LeisureGroupTravel.com
captioned black-and-white newsreels of Waikiki surf riding in the days before “talkies” brought sound to the big screen. (honolulusurfmuseum.com) NEW MEXICO The newly created New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe is a stateof-the-art, immersive exhibition on New Mexico’s colorful past. Its multimedia environment explores the early history of indigenous people, 400 years of Spanish colonization, the Mexican Period, and travel and commerce on the Santa Fe Trail. The exhibition also details the flourishing of New Mexico’s world-renowned arts communities and the coming of the Atomic Age. The museum is located directly behind the Palace of the Governors, the oldest continuously occupied public building in the U.S., right on the Santa Fe Plaza. (505-4765200, nmhistorymuseum.org) WASHINGTON Savor Seattle Food Tours has launched “Coffee & Chocolate Indulgence Tour,” a 2¾-hour adventure that focuses on Seattle’s rich coffee history. It gives guests the opportunity to sample mocha-braised short ribs paired with wine and dessert at the top of the Space Needle, cheeses rubbed with espresso and cocoa, espresso-smoked sea salt caramels, espresso specialty drinks, chocolate and coffee cocktails, Colombian hot chocolate, mochachino cheesecake and a bag of fresh-roasted coffee beans to take home. Cost is $69. (888987-2867, savorseattletours.com). CORRECTION: A photo of Verde Canyon Railroad on page 74 of the June 2009 issue of Leisure Group Travel was incorrectly identified as “New Mexico.” The correct location is Clarkdale, Arizona. August 2009 65
on technology ❖
john kamm, ctp
Social Networking Sites: Not Just for Teenagers and Nerds IF YOUR UNDERSTANDING of the word twitter is a shy, silly laugh or if you think a facebook is a reference document that detectives use to help identify crooks, then I have some news for you. According to a study released in March by Nielson Online, the amount of time users spend on the Internet visiting social networking
Facebook, myspace and Twitter are but three of the hundreds of networking sites that span the globe. Twitter is a new kid on the block, strong on real-time interaction among members. Posts are called “tweets” and are limited to 140 characters. Combined, these three sites had more than 133 million unique visitors in January. That’s a lot of tweets. If
thought. Bob Hofmann, of Broadway Inbound, and Linda Fort Harvell, a great NTA friend, like keeping in touch with people and friends they haven’t seen in decades. Linda Howard, of the great State of Montana, likes the fact she can browse through the pages on her own schedule, keeping up with the pictures of friends. She said, “This is a way to communicate with a wide variety of friends in the shortest amount of time.” E. J. Sexton, TourTech Systems, Inc., pointed out that many users visit the sites using smart phones—we don’t even need computers to stay connected. Michele Michalewicz, reigning queen of NTA, replied, “I read and look because it’s like looking into someone’s closet. I like the pictures the best.” Her comment suggests a very important rule of web conduct – don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see. There are applications for your business as well. Patrick Connor, of Director’s Choice Tours, uses posts from his smart phone to his Facebook page to keep parents and friends informed about the group’s whereabouts while on tour. Recently, as I sat waiting in a school parking lot for several hours for my eighth grader to return from his class trip, I could not help but wonder—so not one of those 150 travelers knows how to tweet?
This is a way to communicate with a wide variety of friends in the shortest amount of time. communities has surpassed the amount of time they spend emailing. The way we use the web is evolving as new tools and services appear, and social networking space is the hot property. Web-based social networking sites provide a way for users to post (display) information about themselves and a means by which the user can regulate who gets to see that information. The sites have a mechanism for users to recommend new friends or contacts to one another, and many of the sites promote a common theme or interest that users have in common such as classmates, social causes or business interests.
Facebook (members) were a country, it would be the world’s fifth largest! OLDER USERS Five years ago these sites were the reclusive domain of tech-savvy teens. Not anymore. According to an article published by Wired Magazine in March, women over the age of 55 make up the fastest growing group. There are now more social networking site users in the 45-to-65-age group than the 13-to-17year-olds. So what’s the big deal? Some research was in order, so I posted a question on my wall (Facebook page) and asked friends to let me know what they
Become a fan of ours on Facebook and we’ll keep you informed of the latest news in the industry by sending you Facebook updates when news breaks. Simply search for “Group Travel” and look for the Premier Tourism Marketing logo! Leisure Group Travel is also joining the Twitter craze. Go to Twitter.com/LeisureGroup to get the latest “tweets” from the Leisure Group Travel staff.
66 August 2009
You can find John at www.facebook.com/john.kamm. He is CEO of TourTech Systems, Inc., developers of TourTools®, the most popular tour reservations solution in North America. Visit www.tourtools.com for more information.
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Only A Select Few At Oberammergau’s Passion Play Enjoy Better Seating Than Tauck Tauck World Discovery has three premium packages (and a four-day optional river cruise extension) that include exclusive Oberammergau tickets in the theater’s best viewing section, so your group can fully savor all the majesty and inspiration that the Passion Play offers. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to sit closer to the action, but that’s only part of what makes Tauck’s Oberammergau packages special. Each in-depth exploration of the region also provides the kind of special Tauck experiences that have earned us the industry’s highest repeat-guest rate. From an exclusive four-course dinner at a historic castle in the Tyrolean Alps to a private tour of Linderhof Palace near Munich, they’re the kind of signature travel experiences that will leave you and your group happy that you put your faith in Tauck.
For more information, call 1-800-241-1365, or visit www.tauck.com