Summer is in full swing in many parts of the world. The extreme natures of the weather, with tornadoes, fires, floods, snow and drought has created stress and doubt about planning getaways. Fortunately, there are options available if you just need to get away and remember what it’s like to laugh, enjoy, rest and relax. Hope these discounted vacations put a smile on your face and get you packing.
Just saw “The Lone Ranger”, starring Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer. Totally fun and campy and even though it ran about 2-1/2 hours, it kept my attention. The fact that I happen to be going to Santa Fe, NM soon, where the film was shot, is thrilling, especially now that I know that the New Mexico Tourism office now offers tours of sites where movies and TV shows have been shot. www.newmexico.org/filmtrails is the new travel planning resource created by the state’s tourism department to help groups and individuals plan their itineraries around film history and lore. Filmmakers Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski chose New Mexico’s Rio Puerco as an authentic setting for their own version of a Wild West town. The movie’s thrilling train sequence in Cimarron Canyon was filmed near Angel Fire, N.M. For further information and a list of other films made in New Mexico, visit www.newmexico.org/filmtrails.
Fancy a train ride through East Anglia in the United Kingdom? If so, the city has teamed with train operator Greater Anglia to offer 2-for-1 deals on more than 120 offerings. There literally is something for any personality, physical capability or capricious whimsy. Some of the possibilities include museums, zoos, Sea Life Centres, meals, cycle hires, tours and accommodations. www.greateranglia.co.uk/daysout
North Florida’s Amelia Island offers a host of new and expanded options. Amelia River Cruises has added additional times for their popular Twilight Cruise and the Summer Eco-Shrimping Tour. The adult-oriented BYOB Twilight Cruise for $28 a person showcases local, live entertainment, spectacular sunsets, and stunning scenery. You’ll see the wild horses of Cumberland Island National Seashore, dolphins and other wildlife. After Aug. 3, the cruises will only be offered on Fridays and Saturdays through the Thanksgiving weekend. Families looking for a participatory, educational outdoor experience should check out The Summer Eco-Shrimping Tour, running through Aug. 17. You’ll help drag an authentic Otter Trawl shrimp net, similar to those used in today’s modern shrimp industry; view the catch onboard while learning from onboard marine biologists; and then be environmentally PC by releasing the catch back into the wild. www.AmeliaRiverCruises.com
For golfers, the semi-private Amelia River Golf Club is offering a special summer rate for visitors and residents. From 12:30 to 3 p.m. daily, guests can play the 18-hole, Tom Jackson designed course for $39. The offer includes 18 holes, range balls, and lunch in the club house. www.GolfAmeliaRiver.com. Another golf option for youths 8-15 years old, is to gain tennis and golf skills with experience PGA and USTPR instructors. The weekly camps are sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in partnership with The Golf Club of Amelia Island. Camp is $200 for one sport or $100 for one. There are day sessions as well. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island: (904) 277-1100 or The Golf Club of Amelia Island: (904) 277-0012.
If I was a kid and was vacationing on Amelia Island, this would be the outing I’d prefer. Now through the end of July, Peterbrooke Amelia Island gives kids the chance to be a Chocolatier for a Day. They’ll get to dip, decorate and package their very own delicious chocolate treats. The camp costs $48 per child. (904) 277-0162. Of course, if I was girly-girl and hadn’t reached the age of knowing it all, I might be lured by the weekly Princess Tea being held at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. Dresses and tiaras help girls transform into princesses at the royal tea party each Saturday from 4:30 -5:30 pm. $65 per child. (904) 277-1100.
Fernandina Beach landed jet ski tour operator, Flying Fish Adventures. Tours led by certified Master Naturalist George Morris highlights wildlife along the Cumberland Island National Seashore as he guides you through creeks winding through marsh prairies and the Intracoastal Waterway around Amelia Island. His 20 years of local experience are a bonus to the great scenery. Choose from one to three-hour tours. www.FlyingFishFun.com; (904) 583-3420
If you’ve never vacationed in Montréal, Canada, then this summer’s myriad of entertainment may be a great reason to do so. Home to Cirque du Soleil, every summer the troupes work out their new shows to the delight of international visitors. This summer is no different. Through the 14th, you can catch Montréal Completement Cirque, a series of large and small performances with more than 100 circus artists. Here are other city events to plan for:
Just For Laughs Festival: July 13 – 28 – headliners include like Joan Rivers and Dane Cook
Osheaga, Music and Arts Festival: Aug. 2 – 4 – a festival of music and arts, divided in three parts: Osheaga Arts, Osheaga in the City and Osheaga on the island. The biggest of its kind in Canada! Headliners include Beck, The Cure and Phoenix.
The Omnivore Food Festival: Aug. 15 – 18 – The Montréal edition of the renowned Paris food event features leading international chefs and local up-and-comers.
Party at one of Melia Hotels in Mexico and get 30% off the room rate. Oh, and kids are free. There are five cities with numerous hotels from which to choose: Playa del Carmen, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta. For details on each, http://meliaoffers.com/summer-in-mexico; 888-956-3542 RESORT FACELIFTS
The San Diego Marriott Mission Valley just completed a $9 million renovation project of their 350 guestrooms and suites. The redo includes a work desk and ergonomic chair , bedding, decor, lighting, telephone systems, RFID lock systems, HVAC systems, new in-room computer safes, and wireless Internet access. Corridors were redone with new wall coverings, floor coverings, and lighting. Complimentary WIFI is now available in all public areas. The work spaces of key management have been moved to the lobby to create a concierge-like presence. The lobby has additional seating. The San Diego Marriott Mission Valley is just 12 minutes from downtown, and near to Miramar, North Island, and many of the universities and corporate offices in San Diego. There is 24,000 sf of meeting space. www.SanDiegoMarriottMissionValley.com; or call 619-692-3800.
Sounds like a real celebration. Bally’s Las Vegas latest renovation of its South tower will honor the resort’s iconic show, Jubilee!. Now in its 32nd year, Jubilee! Is the longest-running show in Las Vegas. The newly renamed Jubilee Tower contains 756 rooms and suites. Newly redone rooms will each with 450 sf of living space with dark wood furnishings, a work desk, 37” flat screen TV and refrigerator. A total of 121 remodeled one- and two-bedroom suites will span 800 to 1,600 sf and will feature a separate living and dining room, bar, ample workspace and a master bedroom retreat with an oversized central whirlpool bathtub. www.CETmeetings.com; (855) 633-8238.
Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries. She is a Contributing Editor-Writer for Prevue Magazine and is an active member of ISES and MPI. She writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, Karen has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady