Western Rafting Trips Swap Camping for Nightly Lodge Comfort

Whitewater rafting pioneer Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) combines some of the West’s wildest rivers with lodge accommodations – instead of camping – for those preferring to forego the stars overhead for a comfy bed and roof.

“We get that camping isn’t everyone’s cup of tea,” says Brandon Lake, Vice President and CMO of Western River Expeditions. “Some prefer to enjoy the pristine wildness of the river and canyons during the day then tuck into a real bed, instead of sleeping under the stars at night.”

Following are rivers in Oregon, Utah and Arizona where the comforts of home combine with the thrills of world-class whitewater:

Oregon’s Rogue River near Medford remains so remote that boats deliver the mail in some regions where the river is the only road. Wildlife sightings may include otter, deer and black bear. Whitewater on this legendary waterway is classified Class II-IV. Rogue River 3 & 4 Day rafting trips start at $955 per adult, double. Youth age 5-17 start at $795 for a three day trip. On Day 1 guests witness the gently flowing Rogue breaking from its slumber at a rapid called Grave Creek that marks the congressionally designated Wild & Scenic section for rafting the Rogue River. Guests walk around a Class V rapid named Ranie Falls. Regional crafted beers and wines are enjoyed late afternoons at the riverside lodges, followed by family-style dinners. The chatter is about the great swimming holes and of course the rapids and what’s next. The rate includes rafting, hiking, lodging and all meals from departure to the end of the trip.

Utah’s Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River is the location for Western’s active 4 Day Westwater Multisport Adventure.  Guests enjoy a variety of activities based from Red Cliffs Lodge, a secluded riverside hideaway 14 miles upstream from Moab, Utah. This adventure program combines an exploration of National Parks through Moab Adventure Center with a day of rafting Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River, a trip labeled “The West’s Best Short Whitewater Trip” by National Geographic.  The rate from $685 per person, double (youth 12-15 are $635), includes three nights at Red Cliffs Lodge, a Hummer safari, rafting on the Colorado, hiking, optional horseback riding, daily breakfast and one lunch and dinner, plus transfers from Moab.

In Arizona, Western River’s Grand Canyon Rafting – 4 Day River & Ranch is sold out for 2015, but reservations are now being taken for 2016. This trip explores regions of Grand Canyon National Park accessible only from the river. Guests enjoy, among other accommodations, an overnight at Bar 10 Ranch on the Grand Canyon rim. Horseback riding and cowboys are part of the land-based scene. This adventure begins in early May and continues through mid-September. The per person double rate is from $1,731. Youth ages 9 and up are accommodated. The whitewater in this section of the canyon is more moderate than on Western’s Upper Canyon 6 Day trips.

For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669), or visit: http://www.westernriver.com/. For more information on Moab Adventure Center please call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163 or visit http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/.

About Western River Expeditions
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center.

Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah rafting, Oregon, and Idaho rafting trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for nine consecutive years.

Here Comes The Sun: Beatlemania Hits Madame Tussauds Orlando

 Good Day Sunshine! John, Paul, Ringo and George continue the British Invasion at Madame Tussauds Orlando this summer as their wax figures descend upon Florida and take their place, for a limited time only, inside the famed wax attraction on International Drive.

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The figures of the Fab Four are set in a pose that pays tribute to the 1969 Abbey Road album cover, which captured all four members walking across a zebra crossing (or crosswalk) outside of Abbey Road Studios. The image is arguably one of the most recognizable in music history. It is also the second-to-last album released by the band before their 1970 break-up.

To recreate these new figures, Madame Tussauds artists utilized measurements taken from previous sittings with the band, as well as image research from the Abbey Road album photo shoot to style each figure. The Beatles have a long history with Madame Tussauds. They were the first rock band to appear in the grand hall at Madame Tussauds London. All four members met with studio artists in 1964 to take measurements for the creation of their original wax figures.

Madame Tussauds artists used a number of image references from the Abbey Road album cover photo shoot, which explain some differences between the original photo and the figures, including the group’s line-up and Paul’s flip-flops.

Starting July 30, Beatles fans can Come Together, say Hello Goodbye and take the selfie of their dreams as they take part of one of the most famous Beatles images of all time! The figures will be on display Eight Days A Week at Madame Tussauds Orlando for a limited time only, so get your Ticket to Ride at MadameTussauds.com/Orlando today!

Madame Tussauds is world-renowned for the creation of detailed and lifelike wax figures that pay homage to A-list celebrities from film and television, sports icons, musicians from all genres, and notable figures from history and pop culture.

Each Madame Tussauds figure is truly a work of art, involving teams of professional artists and sculptors who spend months on extensive research and taking more than 300 measurements to recreate world-famous icons, to achieve the kind of astonishing realism that has been at the heart of the 250-year Madame Tussauds legacy.

Guests at Madame Tussauds Orlando will experience the essence of America with this brand new, immersive and interactive wax experience, bursting with family fun and world-class entertainment, as they move through themed areas meeting all of their favorite stars from award-winning film actors, to historical and modern world leaders, sports stars, music legends as well as figures important to Florida. All visitors can shake hands with the president, get on stage with rock stars and pop princesses, or get up close and personal with a Hollywood heartthrob and take the ultimate selfie!

 

Fun Facts about The Beatles figures at Madame Tussauds Orlando:

·       The Beatles had their original sitting with Madame Tussauds artists in 1964

·       They were first rock band to appear in the Grand Hall at Madame Tussauds London

·       Madame Tussauds artists used a number of image references from the 1964 Abbey Road album cover photo shoot, which explain some notable differences from the original album cover and the wax figures in the attraction:

o   The Paul McCartney figure is not holding a cigarette, and is wearing flip-flops unlike the album cover artwork (where he is barefoot)

o   The figures are walking on a keyboard, not on a zebra crossing

o   On the Abbey Road album cover, John, Ringo, Paul and George are in a single file line as they cross the street.

o   The position of the wax figures is slightly different as John leads and has George, Paul and Ringo following in a single file behind him.

For more information, visit www.madametussauds.com/orlando.

Austin Adventures’ Fall Tips: 7 Trips for 7 Continents

Austin Adventures (www.austinadventures.com/)
enjoys a legacy spanning more than four decades of engaging travelers on small group trips to the world’s best destinations for active travel. With another record-setting summer winding down, the company turns its focus on the fall and upcoming winter seasons and recommends seven best-in-class adventures on seven continents.

Since inception, Austin Adventures founder, president and trip visionary, Dan Austin, had the goal of spanning the globe with world-class adventure itineraries for the intrepid traveler. This was finally accomplished in 2015 with the addition of Asia and small ship river cruising in Vietnam and Cambodia (departures offered December through April).

“While it’s hard to beat summer in Montana, my favorite time to travel is in the fall when the crowds thin out and you get the feeling you have a special place all to yourself,” shared Austin. “We put our collective heads together and have come up with a list of trips to either be taken in the fall when conditions are ideal or booked now before space disappears for prime-time winter travel.”

All of these trips listed include accommodations, most meals, transfers, required equipment, knowledgeable guides and more. Prices are quoted per person based on two people sharing an accommodation. More details are available by calling (800) 575-1540, visiting online at http://www.austinadventures.com/ or by contacting the company via email at info@austinadventures.com.

North America
Fall is prime time in Southern Utah, and Austin Adventures’ Bryce/Zion National Park Adventure (multisport or all-hiking versions) covers the best of two national parks. From $2,398 per person for 6 days/5 nights, departures are scheduled Aug. 23 (hike) and 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20 (hike) and 27 (hike). This intimate tour brings guests past multi-colored hoodoos and spires, slot canyons and hanging gardens. Hiking Zion’s Virgin River Narrows, ranked one of America’s best adventures by National Geographic, is a must-do fall activity. The miracles of geology and ultra-clear nighttime skies play stellar roles enroute. See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/utah-brycezion/

South America
No better time to head to the tip of South America than during fall and winter (their spring and summer). Chile – Northern Patagonia is the trip choice, priced from $5,898 per person for 10 days/9 nights, with weekly departures September through April on a custom basis with a minimum of two people. Hiking, biking, rafting and horseback riding reveal the jaw-dropping scenery in the Northern Lake district between Chile and Argentina. Artisan villages, deserts, a choice of 20 different treks and an end-of-day local Malbec to sip with exemplary local cuisine makes this journey to the end of the world worth it.
See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/chile-northern-patagonia/

Europe
It’s the favorite time of year for locals! Austin Adventures’ France/Provence Multisport (from $3,698 per person for 7 day/6 night departures Sept. 6 and 27 and Oct. 11) is the escape of choice. The tapestry of fertile vineyards becomes more vibrant in the fall, as ancient Roman ruins mingle with the oh-so-present fragrances of lavender, honey and thyme, and markets rife with summer’s bounty tempt between-meal snacking. But wait! A bouillabaisse and baguette with fromage de chèvre paired perfectly with a glass of crisp local rosé await. See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/france-provence/

Asia
Now is the time to reserve a December 2015 through April 2016 vacation in Bali (recommended travel months for this region). Bali – Indonesia Luxury Adventure, bookable with just a minimum of two people (from $5,398 per person for 13 days/12 nights), offers the seduction of this exotic Indonesian island laced with terraced rice paddies and ancient temples. Standup paddle boarding, hiking through clove plantations, chasing a pod of dolphins from the nose of an outrigger, snorkeling in a reef and biking back-country roads bring paradise up close and personal. See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/bali-indonesia/

Africa
After a brief hiatus as the world’s leading wildlife destination, Africa is back and prime season bookings are now being taken. Austin Adventures’ Iconic Botswana departs weekly from April through November 2016 on 11 day/10 night adventures from $8,798 per person. Wildlife on the delta viewed from your own safari tent deck, flora and fauna teeming in the wetlands of the legendary Okavango Delta and the spray of Victoria Falls mingle with the magic of the Big Five scouted on guided walks and game drives. See:
http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/botswana-iconic-botswana/

Polar
One of the last great wildernesses to be explored, Antarctica is always in high demand and anyone wanting to reserve a space on a cruise must act now. Antarctic Peninsula Small Ship Cruise starts at $9,300 per person for 11 days/10 nights exploring the southern-most continent, a frozen desert revealed by snowshoe, kayak, zodiac and from the deck of the 114-passenger M/V Plancius. Think sliding penguins, slumbering seals, 3,000-foot ice walls, and surreal sunsets.  See: http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/antarctica-peninsula-expedition-cruise/

Australia
Another superb destination for small ship cruising, Australia: Kimberly Wilderness Cruise offers weekly eight day/seven night departures in 2016 from April through August with rates from $11,095.  Champagne sunrises, helicopter flight-seeing, rainforest explorations, aboriginal drawings, hiking, mud crabbing and billabongs come with passage on the 36-passenger M/V True North that plies in luxurious fashion the waterways of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region.  See:
http://www.austinadventures.com/packages/australia-kimberley-wilderness-cruise/

About Austin Adventures
Based in Billings, MT, Austin Adventures (formerly Austin-Lehman Adventures) has spent more than 40 years building an international reputation as a provider of scheduled small group tours and customized trips to all seven continents. In 2014, Kasey Austin, Vice President of Operations, was named the World’s Top Family Guide by Outside Magazine. In 2013, Austin Adventures joined the Xanterra Parks & Resorts® portfolio of experiential leisure offerings. Xanterra Parks & Resorts has operations in the Grand Canyon, including Grand Canyon Railway and The Grand Hotel; Yellowstone; Zion; Crater Lake; Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Petrified Forest National Parks; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley National Park and five Ohio State Park Lodges as well as the Geneva Marina at Ohio’s Geneva State Park. Xanterra Parks & Resorts also operates Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, Va., Windstar Cruises, and VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations.

New from Dolomite Mountains s.r.l. – Lake Garda Multisport

Italy’s largest lake, surrounded by steep glaciers, is the setting for Lake Garda Multisport Adventure recently launched by Italy’s active leader in guided and self-guided mountain travel, Dolomite Mountains s.r.l.

Think northern Italy’s Trentino region, a short drive from Milan, Verona or Venice. Here in the last Ice Age glaciers carved out Lake Garda, surrounded by vertical limestone walls and medieval castle towers, a near-mythical landscape today enjoyed by merry-makers year-round at the resort town of Riva del Garda where Dolomite Mountains’ guests lodge while adventuring over and around this clear blue water.

Visitors will tackle a via ferrata ascent high above Lake Garda, experience the adrenaline rush of canyoneering through narrow passageways and caves, sliding through rocks carved by water over eons, and mountain bike to a glacial lake. Swimming and water sports are also included.

Via ferrata means “iron road,” a designated climbing route equipped with a steel cable to which even inexperienced climbers can secure themselves, eliminating some mountaineering risks on exceptionally challenging alpine terrain. This system in German is known as Klettersteig (climbing path). Technical via ferrata mountain climbing was introduced to the region in WWI.

Beautiful beaches, transparent blue water, vertical limestone cliffs, rolling hills and towering mountains are all waiting to be discovered here, says Agustina Lagos-Marmol, Dolomite Mountains founder (http://dolomitemountains.com/en/home.htm). A temperate climate and flourishing vegetation – primarily olive and lemon groves, orange trees, palms, cypresses, and oleanders – combine with the landscape to provide a lush background to the remarkable historical and cultural remains dotting the shoreline. Italy’s Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tower over a blend of Italian, Austrian and Ladin cultures and cuisines.

At a per person (double) rate of €1090, a minimum of four adventurers indulge in bicycling, canyoneering and technical via ferrata mountain climbing. Included in this guided 5 day/4 night program are a trip briefing upon arrival in Riva del Garda, logistics and map of the area, bed and breakfast accommodation for four nights, all breakfasts, dinners in the hotel, the services for three days of a local, English-speaking professional UIAGM/IFMGA Mountain Guide, equipment and gear pertaining to activities, some transfers, and local tourist and Italian VAT taxes. Airport transfers and local medical and evacuation insurances are available upon request.

See: http://www.dolomitemountains.com/en/beyond_the_dolomites/lakegarda3446.htm

About Dolomite Mountains s.r.l.
Dolomite Mountains s.r.l. is a local company in the Dolomites specializing and providing unique experiences in adventure travel within one of the most beautiful natural settings on Earth. Types of trips offered include Hike, Bike, Via Ferrata, Climb, Snowshoe, Photo Safari, Ski, Self Guided and Luxury Trips.

For over 15 years they have been crafting Dolomite adventures, helping travelers uncover the region’s true spirit. Customized guided and self guided active trips and luxury and gourmet adventures take travelers off the beaten path for authentic experiences that reveal the real Dolomites.

For 2015-2016 trip information and reservations call 1 866 247 4860 (US) or log onto
http://dolomitemountains.com/en/home.htm

Busch Gardens Tampa Named One of World’s Top Amusement Parks

Busch Gardens® Tampa was recently recognized as a winner in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice™ awards and in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards.

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TripAdvisor recognized Busch Gardens as one of the Top Amusement Parks in the World. The leading travel site highlights the World’s top attractions, based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for amusement parks worldwide gathered over a 12-month period.

Adding to the excitement, Busch Gardens’ Iceploration show was a winner in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest for Best Amusement Park Entertainment. Nominees are chosen by a panel of relevant experts, which include a combination of editors from USA TODAY and 10Best.com, relevant expert contributors and sources for both these media and other Gannett properties. Voters are then given four weeks to vote for their candidate of choice.

 

Busch Gardens is the ultimate family adventure, combining world-class thrill rides, live entertainment and more than 12,000 animals. Venture across the Serengeti Plain® and race like a cheetah aboard Florida’s first triple-launch coaster Cheetah Hunt®. Plus, enjoy the fully-remodeled Pantopia® with shopping, dining, live entertainment and North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower, Falcon’s Fury®.

Visit buschgardenstampa.com for more information about Busch Gardens Tampa. Or, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardensTampaBlog.com, or “Like” the Busch Gardens Facebook page and follow @buschgardens on Twitter and Instagram.

Boutique Hotel Brings New Life to Woodstock, Vermont

On six acres along the banks of The Ottauquechee River in Woodstock, Vermont a brand-new, 38-room boutique hotel grand opened in early July. This opening makes 506 On The River Inn the only new hotel to appear in this historic town in decades.

Though the hotel has enjoyed a soft opening for some months, the announcement that the final eight guest rooms and its pool, the sole indoor hotel pool in Woodstock, are now complete, brings the self-contained resort to complete fruition.

Immediately upon entering the hotel, guests are enveloped in the inn’s chic yet comforting modern meets farmhouse aesthetic.

The owners, Aaren Macksoud, a native of Woodstock, and Paulina Macksoud, are international hoteliers and part of a family business with properties in Berlin, Zanzibar and Kenya. The duo have gifted to their new endeavor an eclectic collection of memorabilia, gathered partially from international travels and partially locally sourced from Vermont and New England.

 The calculated application of earth tones to furnishings, wall colors and coverings creates an interior pastiche in sepia, where the vintage artifacts become the centerpieces. This muted aesthetic provides tranquility for guests and enhances the magnificent views from rooms and balconies of the Inn’s meadows, pond, gardens and the Ottauquechee River.

The property refuses to shake its quintessentially Vermont roots and continues to be that home-away-from home for those coming to Woodstock. The inn’s interior serves as a charming homage to Woodstock, evidenced by the remnants of the town’s history used as décor for the property’s walls.

Guests will find themselves entranced by the old jukebox and arcade games, by a dramatic apothecary counter that now serves as the bar in 506 Bistro, and by a stand-up writing desk in the lobby that once graced a nunnery in New Hampshire, as well as classic literature and vintage newspapers. In spite of this retro vibe, General Manager Josh Hardy promises that accommodations and accouterments are thoroughly contemporary. Hardy comes from an internationally recognized five-star resort a few miles away to open and continue evolving 506 On The River Inn.

506 On the River Inn offers expansive guest rooms and suites with premium king and queen beds, farm-to-fork food at fireside dinners in 506 Bistro offering a full bar with a selection of wines and Vermont craft beers, complimentary country breakfasts, massage treatments, WiFi, and concierge services, and many other well-considered details to meet the discerning demands of vacationers.

The grand opening rate this summer is from $249 per room per night, double occupancy. Included is a daily country breakfast. A special promotional rate of $198 per night is available on select evenings this summer.

Woodstock, Vermont, is a small town with a significant pedigree. Notable conversations centered on caring for Mother Earth began here at the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Outdoor loving visionaries created four-season recreation that includes, to name a few, white water rafting, skiing, hiking the Appalachian Trail, hot air ballooning, fly-fishing and horseback riding. Preservation efforts are ongoing to conserve a wealth of 18th and 19th century architecture spanning the Woodstock Green. This heritage inspired The Boston Globe to deem Woodstock as “quaint meets contemporary … ridiculously pretty.”

The new hotel is the Macksoud’s first in the United States. They also own and manage Palacina Berlin, Palacina Hotel Nairobi, Baraza Resort and Spa Zanzibar, Breezes Beach Club and Spa Zanzibar and The Palms Zanzibar.

For information and reservations please call (802) 457-7232 or email reservations@ontheriverwoodstock.com

506 On The River Inn is located at 1653 West Woodstock Road, Woodstock, Vermont 05091.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando Now Accepting Reservations

 Beginning earlier this week, guests were invited to be among the first to book reservations for the newest on-site hotel at Universal Orlando Resort – Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.

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Built around a lush, tropical lagoon and towering waterfall, the new, 1,000-room Caribbean-themed hideaway is the fifth hotel at Universal Orlando and will bring the number of on-site hotel rooms to 5,200. 

 

Guests will be captivated by a vivid retreat that evokes a free-spirited, Caribbean sense of ease with a modern yet timeless feel. The unforgettable island escape will feature Universal Orlando’s largest on-site, zero-entry pool at 16,000 square-feet, with a white sand beach, a water slide, cabanas and a fire pit.

 

Dining options will include Amatista Cookhouse, a Caribbean-inspired restaurant with open exhibition kitchen and outdoor dining; Strong Water Tavern, a destination lobby lounge overlooking the hotel’s towering waterfalls and offering a tapas-style menu; Drhum Club Kantine, a poolside bar and grill serving freshly-grilled fare and specialty cocktails; New Dutch Trading Co., a quick-service marketplace; and 24-hour room service.

 

With value season rates from $119 per night for a seven-night stay or $143 per night for a four-night stay, and summer season rates starting at $176 per night for a seven-night stay or $206 per night for a four-night stay, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will offer incredible guest benefits, including:

·         Early theme park admission

·         Complimentary water taxi service and shuttle bus transportation to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk

·         Complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to their hotel

·         Resort-wide charging privileges with their room key

·         And more!

 

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will be a preferred on-site hotel. More information about the various levels of on-site hotel experiences is available here.

 

To book a hotel stay and explore ticket options for Universal Orlando’s two incredible theme parks, visit universalorlando.com or call 800.BE.A.STAR (232-7827).