New River Gorge is the Classroom for High School STEM Students

On 1,500 acres in West Virginia’s southern hills, ACE Adventure Resort (http://aceraft.com/) delivers fun and adventure along with non-traditional instruction through STEM-based field trips offering hands-on learning for grades 9-12 in a stunning outdoor classroom. (STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, is a national effort supported by private companies.)

Students raft, zip, climb or hike their way to becoming more interested in the world around them while performing scientific studies and experiencing living history here.  Using the natural world as a classroom increases students’ enthusiasm for learning, enhances critical thinking and relationship skills and improves academic performance across curriculums, observed Jackie Gallimore, ACE Director of Outdoor Recreation.

In 2014, ACE Adventure Resort launched this natural learning laboratory in tandem with STEM curricula requirements of area schools. To date some 400 students have participated in these educational programs hosted at the resort. Supported by business/industry, postsecondary and community partners such as ACE, students pursue, among others, hydrology and geology studies that incorporate whitewater rafting, rock climbing, zip-lining and hiking.  Lessons may include testing water quality, fossil hunting and ecosystem exploration.

ACE’s 2015 STEM programs include:

WET AND WILD H2O – Students raft the New River Gorge collecting data for a citizen science water quality project. This is a journey through time that began over 300 million years ago when the youngest rocks of the Gorge were formed and water and erosion began to carve this 1,000-foot canyon. Considered one of the oldest rivers in the world, this is an ideal classroom for exploring firsthand how the waters on our planet cycle through the environment and sustain life as we know it. Students on this floating classroom learn about how water, the landscape and human activity are interconnected. Students practice debating skills while pondering the benefit and downside of dams.

GEOLOGY IN THE GORGE – Students learn the story of the rocks in the New River Gorge while fossil hunting for creatures 300 million years old. Interactive lessons examine the erosion and evolution that have exposed formations and this planet’s geological character in this 1,000-foot gorge. Students learn the natural history of the New River Gorge, the factors that cause change and how geology affects ecosystems and economies. Later they climb the very cliffs the planet spent millions of years compressing into rock. They dig soil pits to see how ecosystems are formed from the ground up; they debate using renewable versus nonrenewable resources and the effects these have on people and the planet, with the knowledge that coal is one of West Virginia’s biggest economic resources.

ECOSYSTEM EXPEDITION – Students study the ecosystems in the New River Gorge in part by zip lining over it. (Wildlife biologists still use this method to study forest canopy over Central America.) Students learn how plants, animals and non-living factors play critical roles in their environment and they compare how natural, human-influenced and animal-influenced ecosystems differ by analyzing tree species, animal signs and soil composition in a ‘natural’ plot, a ‘disturbed’ plot and a ‘beaver’ plot.

Gallimore anticipates two additional STEM programs will be available by spring 2016; Zip Line Physics and A Walk Through Time. For more information see: http://aceraft.com/pages/stem-educational-programs-for-groups. For reservations, please contact groups@aceraft.com.

About ACE Adventure Resort
ACE Adventure Resort is the East Coast’s largest mountain hideaway exclusively focused on world-class whitewater rafting along with guided adventures, outdoor sports and activities, lodging, camping and other amenities. The nearby New River Gorge National River is affectionately known as the “Grand Canyon of the East” and features rafting from April to October. The New and Gauley Rivers combined offer over 100 miles of rapids all within 30 minutes of the resort. Both rivers are administered by the National Park Service.  ACE’s passion since 1980 has been to create vacations wrapped around these rivers and other outdoor adventures so that guests can experience “a world of adventure in one place.” The 1,500 acres here encompass both forest and a 5-acre lake plus a series of ponds, forest trails, spectacular cliffs for rock climbing, waterfalls and overlooks.

For more information and to make trip and lodging reservations, please telephone (800) 787-3982 or email ace@aceraft.com. Visit the website at www.aceraft.com.

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Merlin Entertainments Honors First Responders with Free Admission/Special Discounts for Florida Attractions

Merlin Entertainments has announced special discounts and offers for police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel for all four of its Central Florida attractions, which include LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.

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For the entire month of September, first responders can receive a complimentary single day admission ticket to LEGOLAND Florida theme park. They can also receive a 50 percent discount on admission to the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, located at the I-Drive 360 entertainment and dining complex on International Drive. The 50 percent discount applies to a single attraction ticket or combination tickets for two or three attractions.

The discount program is only valid for police officers, fire fighters, and EMS employees working in the United States. Active and retired personnel with identification are also eligible. Eligible personnel should present their employee ID or professional organization membership card to LEGOLAND Florida Resort’s ticket window to redeem their complimentary single day admission ticket, or the admissions desk at the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando or SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, on the day they plan to visit to redeem the discount on their admission ticket.

All four attractions provide the perfect backdrop for family fun and memorable experiences, and first responders are encouraged to bring family members as their guests. Up to four additional single day tickets to LEGOLAND Florida can be purchased for $40 each, and up to four additional guests may receive a 50 percent discount on tickets for the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando or SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. Guests may upgrade to include the LEGOLAND Water Park for just $15 per person. The offer is valid from 9/1/15-9/30/15.

For more information, visit florida.LEGOLAND.com or OfficialOrlandoEye.com.

Austin Adventures Identifies Latest Trend in Luxury Family Travel

Austin Adventures’ legacy of arranging small group, vacations to the world’s most enticing destinations for active travel spans more than four decades.  This legacy also leads to trend spotting.

The latest direction in luxury travel that Dan Austin, Founder and President of Austin Adventures (http://www.austinadventures.com/) sees is the “ultra-high-end”, over-the-top custom trip for multi-generation families.  What was once a rare request, his team is now asked quite frequently to arrange a week of adventure wrapped in luxurious amenities where price is no object. According to Austin, demand for this level of spending on vacations is up 40 percent from just three years ago.

Multi generation family travel has been on the upswing for some time now. A trend of its own, Austin Adventures has seen an increase in this demographic as well, up nearly 50 percent over the past three years. According to the Virtuoso Luxe Report, in 2014 three out of 10 grandparents traveled with their grandchildren and eight of 10 families arranged for the grandparents to join in the fun.

“We are seeing more clients who say price is not a concern when planning an exclusive, custom-built adventure. However, creating a special VIP experience with lasting memories is an imperative!” Austin said. “Total privacy, security and discretion are also priorities that we understand and know how to provide.”

His staff is uniquely positioned to satisfy this growing market. “Whether searching for the hidden property in Belize or finding the best secluded spot for a backcountry birthday party in Zion National Park or figuring out how to fly in a band for a musical surprise, it’s extremely gratifying putting our decades of experience in the field to use planning something incredibly special,” Austin said.

A list of Austin Adventures’ over-the-top experiences reads like a billionaire’s bucket list. One such vacation took place on the island of Kauai where 10 friends shared a 60th birthday party with helicopter rides, a champagne brunch at the top of Waimea Falls and a private Luau and Pig roast with a musical trio. Flowers were dropped on the party from a helicopter.

His company recently fulfilled a request from a pair of grandparents who wanted to celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary and treat their kids and grandchildren (14 in total) to a two week Western adventure from Yellowstone and the Tetons to South Dakota’s Black Hills. The itinerary included a private walking tour of Little Bighorn Battlefield with a local historian and a hike up Harney Peak (highest point east of the Rockies at 7,244’) enjoyed by part of the group while the kids went hiking and swimming at Sylvan Lake with the grandparents. The trip also included an all-day horseback ride with fourth generation Montana ranchers and a private chuck wagon dinner just for the family at a secluded spot overlooking the Tetons.

Thanks to the Austin Adventures team, an international celebrity and his family toured incognito behind the scenes in Yellowstone National Park. And an exclusive yacht for an extended family of 20 was secured for the Christmas Holidays in the Galapagos. Their wish to cross the Equator on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve was fulfilled.

Austin Adventures’ reputation among the famous and ultra-wealthy has spread. “Our guest list, if we could publish it, would read like a Who’s Who in this country: governors, congressmen, Forbes 100 list makers, philanthropists, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Television and Hollywood personalities and more,” Austin reports.

A recent satisfied client wrote, “Austin Adventures definitely wrote the book on customer service. From hand-written notes when we booked to friendly follow-up calls before departure, then the personalized messages every day and treats left by the guides in our hotel rooms, this trip was the best experience imaginable.”

Austin attributes much of their success in being able to pull off the impossible to their recent induction into the Xanterra Parks & Resorts family of companies. This connection, especially when it comes to tours in National Parks, helps his team meet the needs of what can be a demanding market.

“Austin Adventures was one of the first tour operators to offer multisport family trips in National Parks over three decades ago. And to this day, our guests benefit from our expertise and connections. Because we are owned by Xanterra Parks & Resorts we can offer the best rooms in national park lodges (think views of forest and wildlife not the parking lot), VIP services from park staff, behind-the-scenes access, insider conveniences and more. Through long-standing relationships and knowing who to negotiate with, we can provide VIP and behind-the-scenes access to experiences not readily available to the traveling public.”

For more information on all of the destinations, trips and itineraries offered by Austin Adventures visit http://www.austinadventures.com, call (800) 575-1540 or email info@austinadventures.com.

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.

All-New Fast & Furious Mega-Attraction Racing to Universal Orlando Resort in 2017

One of the most successful film franchises of all time will soon become one of Universal Studios Florida’s most action-packed ride experiences.  Universal Orlando Resort announced today that Fast & Furious: Supercharged will join its incredible lineup of attractions in 2017 – continuing the unprecedented growth of the destination.

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Guests will experience a high-octane journey that fuses an original storyline and incredible ride technology with everything that fans love about the films—popular characters, exhilarating environments, nonstop action and, of course, high-speed cars. 

 

Led by film stars Vin Diesel (Dom Toretto), Dwayne Johnson (Hobbs), Michelle Rodriguez (Letty) and Tyrese Gibson (Roman), guests will feel like part of the “Fast family” as they embark on a thrilling new Fast & Furious adventure.  They will be immersed in the underground racing world made famous in the films, explore the headquarters of Toretto and his team and even get to check out some of the supercharged cars they’ve seen on the big screen.  Then, guests will board specially-designed vehicles and take off on an adrenaline-pumping ride with their favorite stars from the films.

 

Fast & Furious is Universal Pictures’ highest-grossing film franchise of all time.  Since the release of the first film in 2001, the Fast& Furious series has become a cultural phenomenon.  Together, all seven installments have grossed nearly $3.9 billion at the worldwide box office.  The most recent film, Furious 7, was released in April and became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time, with more than $1.5 billion in global box office.  In addition, Universal Studios Hollywood introduced its own Fast & Furious—Supercharged this summer, which serves as the grand finale to its world famous Studio Tour. 


Fast & Furious: Supercharged will replace Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue and Disaster: A Major Motion Picture Starring You! at Universal Studios Florida.  Disaster will close on September 8, 2015 and Beetlejuice will close later this year to make way for the new attraction.

 

More details about Universal Orlando’s Fast & Furious attraction will be released in the future.  Stay tuned to www.universalorlando.com for more information.

Stowe, Vermont to Welcome New Boutique Hotel

Lark Hotels is bringing luxe lodge accommodations and a rustic mod design aesthetic to Stowe, Vermont, with the October 1 grand opening of Field Guide. Stowe’s newest boutique hotel is Lark’s first non-coastal property and brings the number of hotels in this fast-growing collection to 12.

Envisioned as a home base for exploration and unique Vermont vacation experiences, Field Guide occupies the site of the former Ye Olde England Inn and features 30 accommodations, comprised of 17 standard guest rooms, ten suites, and three private-entrance cottages.

Boston-based interior designer Rachel Reider, whose bold, eye-catching style has won awards for many Lark Hotels, created designs suitable for all four seasons, fusing unique textiles and finishes with a rich, sunset-inspired palette. Green, gold, dusky purple, gray, and orange compliment furnishings that evoke shapes and textures found in nature, such as custom live edge wooden headboards, bathroom walls of reclaimed wood, and silver leaf tree stump end tables.

Distinctive wallpaper prints that feature the look and feel of birch wood and birds perched on tree limbs are juxtaposed with cardboard and papier mâché animal heads, old trail guides, antlers, and whimsical vintage Vermont pieces.

Before and after exploring Stowe’s abundant natural beauty, guests will sink into plush beds and revel in a host of amenities, including a daily, curated breakfast of small plates (a Lark Hotels signature), a seasonal heated pool and year-round hot tub, a spa treatment room, meeting and event spaces, and a lounge where guests can play games, peruse a collection of vintage field guides or simply relax in front of the fire. An onsite restaurant and bar, still to be named, will add to Stowe’s already vibrant dining scene when it opens in winter 2016.

“Field Guide was conceived and curated for active, curious adventurers who seek the relaxed, modern, and playful style that has become our signature,” said Rob Blood, Lark Hotels’ CEO. “We fell in love with the bones of Ye Olde England Inn and are excited to share this next chapter with our guests. The hotel is just minutes from the slopes, trails, and main village, and almost any other activity you can imagine.”

Nightly rates at Field Guide will vary seasonally ranging from $139 to $519, depending on room type. For reservations please call (802) 253-8088 or email stay@fieldguidestowe.com. For more information on Field Guide, visit www.fieldguidestowe.com.

Following in Field Guide’s footsteps will be The Merchant, an 11-room boutique hotel launching this fall in Salem, MA.

About Lark Hotels

Lark Hotels is a collection of boutique hotels located in sought-after spots. Additional Lark Hotels include Whitehall, Camden, ME; Captain Fairfield Inn, Kennebunkport, ME; 76 Main, Nantucket, MA; 21 Broad, Nantucket, MA; The Attwater, Newport, RI; Gilded, Newport, RI; Pomegranate Inn, Portland, ME; Ale House Inn, Portsmouth, NH; The Hotel Portsmouth, Portsmouth, NH; Blue Door Group – Inns of Mendocino, Mendocino, CA; and The Merchant, Salem, MA.

Lark Hotels embrace the locations they are in, but in playful, unexpected ways. Think “sense of place” with imagination and a touch of mischief. Each Lark Hotel invites guests to experience modern luxury in the heart of an iconic destination, to feel the pull of a nostalgic getaway while surrounded by today’s amenities and to find attentive service when they want it and privacy when they don’t. For information on Lark Hotels, the “On a Lark Club,” and the hotel collection please visit www.larkhotels.com.

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort Announces Room Expansion

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Universal Orlando Resort and Loews Hotels & Resorts are excited to announce an expansion of Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Four-hundred new rooms will be added to the retro-themed hotel due to its tremendous success and positive guest response since opening in March 2014.

 

Opening in 2017, the expansion will consist of two additional towers that will be located at the south end of the property, adjacent to the Continental and Americana guest towers.

 

In addition to the remarkable amenities and on-site benefits, select rooms in the new towers will offer spectacular views of Universal’s Volcano Bay – the resort’s third incredibly immersive park that will forever change the perception of water theme parks when it opens in 2017.

 

The retro-inspired Cabana Bay is a destination within itself – featuring a stunning design with bold colors and sweeping vistas that transport guests back to a time of relaxation and endless family fun. Cabana Bay guests can experience remarkable amenities, including two zero-entry pools, a waterslide, a lazy river, a 10-lane bowling alley and more. With 900 existing standard guest rooms and 900 existing family suites, guests can choose between two incredible room options. The family suite is a unique room option that sleeps up to six people and includes two queen size beds, a full-size pull-out sofa, a kitchenette area, a sliding partition for privacy, two flat-screen TVs and a compartmentalized bathroom with preparation spaces for three people at once. 

 

Cabana Bay guests also get exclusive benefits only available to on-site hotel guests at Universal Orlando, including Early Park Admission one hour before the theme parks open and complimentary transportation to and from Universal Orlando’s two incredible theme parks and Universal CityWalk.

 

Additional information will be available in the future. To learn more or to make a reservation, call 1-888-273-1311 or visit http://www.universalorlando.com. Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is co-owned and operated by Loews Hotels & Resorts in a joint venture with NBC Universal.

Nathan’s Famous Strengthens Campaign for Creation of a Hot Dog Emoji

Nathan’s Famous, the world-famous hot dog company, is continuing its campaign for the creation of a hot dog emoji and has created an official petition that supporters can begin signing today at www.HotDogEmoji.com.

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Nathan’s Famous is driving the #HotDogEmoji campaign socially on Facebook, and Twitter as well as the brand’s website, www.NathansFamous.com. where fans can also access the petition.

“We were overwhelmed by the fan support to create the #HotDogEmoji so we thought that it was necessary to take the effort further,” said Mike Paribello, Sr. Director of Marketing, Nathan’s Famous. “We decided to champion the petition process and serve as the official voice of fans everywhere. It’s our plan to submit a collective request to Apple and Google once this campaign has concluded.”

Please join the cause and make it known that you too want to live in a world where hot dogs and hamburgers are treated equally. Sign the petition to show your support and together we will make a difference.

Hot dog lovers across the globe are encouraged to use the hashtag, #HotDogEmoji, when sharing posts on all social networks.
Nathan’s Famous is a licensed brand of Smithfield Foods.