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Clark Howard’s Travel e-Scapes Newsletter September 27, 2011

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Travel Tips, Tidbits & Trivia

Best Western Chain Redefined
The world’s largest hotel chain, Best Western, now has 41 Best Western Plus properties open outside of North America, with more than 60 additional Best Western Plus hotels expected to be open internationally by the end of 2011. The largest concentration of Best Western Plus properties are currently in Europe, with 28. There are also eight Best Western Plus hotels in Australia and at least one Best Western Plus hotel open in Asia, South America and Africa. Best Western Plus hotels were initially introduced in North America in February, 2011 as part of the brand’s descriptors program, which classifies Best Western’s more than 2,200 North American properties into one of three types based on the hotels’ product experience: Best Western, Best Western Plus or Best Western Premier. The categories give travelers a better understanding of what is offered at each individually owned and operated Best Western hotel so they can choose the right hotel for every type of trip. Best Western Plus hotels are upper midscale properties that offer a superior accommodation experience with enhanced additional services and amenities. Best Western Premier descriptor has been used successfully in Europe, Asia and South America for more than a decade. This category of hotels are upscale hotels that offer luxury at the right price. The Premier hotels meets the high-standard requirements of AAA/CAA with a 3-Diamond rating or higher. Regular Best Western branded hotels are mid-scale properties that offer great value without the cookie-cutter experience. Guests can learn more about each descriptor through virtual tours and photos at Best Western.

Switzerland + Paris
Buy a Swiss Pass and the deal is sweetened with a complimentary second class round-trip rail tickets to Paris on the high-speed Lyria (travel must be completed by December 10). Find yourself in a different world in only 3.5 hours from Switzerland. The most economical qualifying Swiss Pass is a 4-day Saver Pass with adult rates of $238, Second Class. This pass valid for 2-5 travelers who are traveling together at all times. The pass must be used within 6 months of date of purchase. Each Swiss Pass purchase includes a Swiss Museum Pass with free access to over 400 museums. Learn more at My Switzerland.

Travel to Cuba – Legally!
Talk about bragging rights: for the first time ever, Insight Cuba is collaborating with the Havana Marathon (Marabana Marathon) to allow American athletes the opportunity to legally participate in this most exclusive and momentous run through the historic city on November 20. Insight Cuba, the leading provider of U.S. authorized people-to-people travel to Cuba, has created a 5-day/4-night tour, November 17-21. Established in 1987, the Havana Marathon draws an international crowd, comprised of some of the world’s top runners. One of the Caribbean’s premiere sporting events, the course winds its way through magnificent avenues lining the UNESCO World Heritage city and past historic places including the famous Malecon, Old Havana, the historic Hotel Nacional, and Revolution Square. Preceding the marathon, runners will participate in a hand-picked people-to-people tour providing participants with unique access to people and places the average tourist rarely sees. Activities may include meetings with the Cuban runners association, disabled athletes, touring the ministry of sports, visiting a local school, in addition to visiting Cuba’s most famous sites. The “Havana Marathon” program includes five-star accommodations at the Melia Cohiba in Havana; day time activities; all meals including a marathon dinner on Saturday night; all entrance fees to scheduled activities and events; a Cuban host to facilitate all marathon details and people-to-people activities; marathon entry fee; medical check-up; all in-country ground transportation; U.S. Treasury Department license and Letter of Authorization and travel medical insurance, emergency medical evacuation and trip cancellation coverage (up to $1000). Prices are $1,995 per person, double occupancy; $2,295 single occupancy. Space is limited.


Great Domestic & International Deals

The following rates have a ticket-by date which gives you a bit more breathing room to purchase tickets. However, these offers could expire before that date should an airline deem the sale rates sold-out — or a mistake!

One-way from Atlanta:
$49 Memphis, New Orleans, Orlando, Sarasota, St. Louis
$61 Ft. Lauderdale
$62 Ft. Myers, Kansas City, W. Palm Beach
$65 Detroit or Flint
$66 Chicago-Midway, Philadelphia
$74 Boston, San Antonio
$77 Dallas
$78 New York-LaGuardia, Washington DC
A 10-day advance purchase required
Valid on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays
Slightly higher rates available for travel on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays
Complete travel by December 14
Blackouts: November 22, 23, 26-28
Purchase by September 28
Valid on AirTran, nonstop
Add up to $20 each way for inclusive pricing
This is just a sampling of the sale destinations. Visit AirTran for more

Round-trip from Chattanooga:
$220 Budapest, Hungary
$257 Vienna, Austria
$275 Athens, Greece
$300 Lisbon, Portugal; Prague, Czech Republic; Rome, Italy
Add $25 per direction for weekend travel
Depart October 29-December 14; December 24, 25 or January 5-March 26
Blackouts: December 17-23
Purchase by September 28
Valid on Delta with most carriers matching
Inclusive rate: $784.90 BUD
Travelers must originate in CHA, otherwise remaining flight segments will be computer canceled

Round-trip from Atlanta:
$225 Amsterdam, Netherlands
$275 Paris, France
A 7-day advance purchase required
Add $25 per direction for weekend travel
Depart now through December 14; December 24-March 26
Blackouts to the U.S.: December 17-23; December 26-January 4
Purchase by September 28
Valid on Lufthansa/United
Inclusive rate: $783.70 AMS


Top 10 Tuesday

Not every Oktoberfest reveller will know they’re toasting the 19th-century marriage of a Bavarian crown prince as they guzzle beer and bratwurst for two weeks each autumn.  But that’s where the tradition started and though its roots are still in Munich, the entire world has since joined in on the celebrations.

Online adviser Cheapflights.com provides its Top 10 Oktoberfest Celebration outside Germany:

1. Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, October 7-16: Canadians pull out all the stops for nine days each autumn to create the largest Oktoberfest celebration outside of Munich. Based in Ontario’s twin cities, the German extravaganza offers more than 40 family and cultural events. The celebration culminates at the Thanksgiving Day Parade, a televised spectacle of floats, entertainers and marching bands.

2. Hong Kong, October 21-November 12: The thriving expat community in Hong Kong has done a fine job – for 19 years now – of importing lederhosen and sauerkraut for a waterfront Oktoberfest. This year will be especially festive, as the Marco Polo German Bierfest celebrates its 20th anniversary. Expect three straight weeks of lively debauchery (last year, nearly 40,000 guests crammed into the traditional tent for live music and pork knuckles).

3. Blumenau, Brazil, October 6-23: Though Oktoberfests are celebrated all over Brazil each October, it’s Blumenau’s that provides attendees with a quintessential German aesthetic. In 1850, German immigrants founded the town, situated in Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. Vila Germanica, in the city center, features German-style buildings that take visitors out of Brazil and drop them smack-dab in the middle of Bavaria. A reported 700,000 visitors annually flood the town to eat, drink and dance – to an oompah-samba fusion.

4. Brisbane, Australia, October 7-9 and 14-16: The upside of opting for Brisbane’s Oktoberfest instead of Munich’s is the former’s spectacular spring weather. Reserve a Bavarian VIP Table and invite seven friends for an elevated view of the space, a full spread of specialty German dishes, sausages and pretzels, and take-home steins.

5. Stockholm, Sweden, October 6-8: The Stockholm’s Beer & Whisky Festival is also known as Stockholm Oktoberfest. Visitors can try libations from nearly 100 exhibitors. Sign up for beer and whisky “schools,” where novices and seasoned drinkers alike get the chance to learn from experts in Level I and II classes. Thirty-four thousand attendees took part in the festivities at Congress Center last year.

6. Cincinnati, Ohio, (plan on next year) mid-September: The largest U.S. Oktoberfest, Oktoberfest Zinzinnati, is a no-nonsense weekend of fantastic beer, food and entertainment. Schnitzel, pretzels and strudel are washed down with 1.6 million ounces of beer annually. Held downtown at Fountain Square.

7. Dublin, Ireland, now through October 9: Swap the Guinness for Erdinger at one of the many beer festivals happening around the Emerald Isle. Free for all attendees, the ode to Bavaria features a mouthwatering menu of bratwurst, spatzle, Burgundian ham and other traditional German dishes. Profits from the Dublin fest helps disadvantaged children from the city.

8. Denver, Colorado, (plan for 2012) mid-September: Oktoberfest Denver kicks off with a ceremonial tapping of a Sam Adams Oktoberfest keg of beer and continues for two full weekends of themed costumes, live music and tasty cuisine. Coloradans and the 250,000 visitors who stop by each year.

9. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, October 7, 8, 11-15: The German Business Association adds legitimacy to this lederhosen-clad party, held at the Windsor Plaza Hotel and featuring German games, nightly raffles, all-you-can-eat food and lots of beer. Last year attracted more 14,000 guests. A tad smaller than Munich’s guest list of 6 million, Saigon’s offers a smaller-scale version of a traditional beer garden.

10. Windhoek, Namibia, October 28, 29: Namibia’s capital honors its colonial German roots every year at the country’s largest sports club, Sport Klub Windhoek. Rowdy crowds chow down on authentic German cuisine over a fun-filled weekend, serenaded by oompah bands flown in from the ex-Motherland itself. Join expats and locals alike to wash knockwurst, Wiener schnitzel and Bavarian pretzels down with Windhoek Lager, a Euro pale lager that’s made its mark worldwide.

Source: Reuters.


Event & Resort Specials

Albuquerque Adventure
The 40th Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the place to be from October 1-9. This international event, held at the 200-acre Balloon Fiesta Park, will be filled with balloons and vendors selling everything from traditional New Mexican food to Balloon memorabilia. Each year balloon teams from around the world participate in the event and news coverage originates from more than 50 countries. It has become the most photographed event in the world. The schedules includes hot-air balloon “glows,” “mass ascensions” and other signature events. The Hyatt Regency Albuquerque offers a special “Up, Up & Away” package, priced from $199 which includes a welcome amenity, daily breakfast for two (to-go or in the restaurant), two tickets per day to the Balloon Fiesta, complimentary shuttle to and from the Balloon Fiesta Park and additional amenities. Refer to offer codes BALLSM or BALLE. This downtown hotel, surrounded by the Sandia Mountains, is ideally located to explore the city’s shops and art galleries.

Unlimited Golf in Virginia
The Lansdowne Resort offers one of the best golf deals of autumn with the “Re-Tee for Free” on stays through November. With 45-holes of championship golf at the resort, this all-you-can play golf package represents a savings of 50%. The Golf Club at Lansdowne Resort, managed by Troon Golf and known as the Mid-Atlantic’s premier golf destination, offers the region’s finest fairways and some of the best golf in Virginia. Test your handicap and discover the challenge of two championship 18-hole courses and one 9-whole course, each designed by Robert Trent Jones II or Greg Norman. Greg Norman himself says that the last four holes on the Norman Course is “one of the hardest miles in golf.” After check-in, squeeze in 9-holes on the Sharkbite family-friendly course and in the morning, add 18-holes on the Greg Norman or Robert Trent Jones course. The package allows as much golf as you can play in 24 hours. Rates start at $239 per night and includes all the 4-star AAA amenities of Lansdowne such as the multi-pool aquatic complex and fitness center, outdoor dining in addition to five restaurants (from pub dining to farm to table dining in On the Potomac), golf cart and clubs (if requested). Enjoy the use of of Spa Minerale, a full-service spa for additional costs. This resort is set on more than 500 acres of secluded countryside.


Travel Quotation

‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’ is not just a catchy slogan for the Las Vegas. We are a world-class destination not only defined by our fine dining, shopping, mesmerizing entertainment and luxury, but also by our incomparable reputation of providing and protecting an atmosphere of adult freedom. /

Cathy Tull, senior vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority

Las Vegas is leading the charge against information over-sharing with a chic, new campaign urging its more than 37 million annual visitors to protect their Las Vegas moments and the destination’s discreet adult playground reputation by remembering the “Only Vegas” code. The destination will virally launch ads encouraging travelers to withhold those experiences meant to stay only in the destination and to take an oath promising to do so.

Travelers who feel they broke the “Only Vegas” code during recent visits to the destination or who simply want to join the campaign to protect the uniquely Las Vegas experiences are urged to visit Know the Code. Here, visitors can sign the oath to protect the moments and spread the word to their friends.


Note: Unless otherwise stated above, follow these guidelines when booking special airfares from Clark Howard’s e-Scapes newsletter:

    No expiration of travel means the rate is valid on trips taken over the next 331 days, or the advance booking window allowed on most airlines International rates are based on mid-week travel days, or with most airlines Monday-Thursday. (one exception is Monday-Wednesday to London). Economy class airfares to Europe require a minimum stay requirement of a Saturday night and a maximum stay of a month. Economy class airfare to Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East typically require a 6-day minimum stay; 30-day maximum. Most domestic coach class airfares, including Canada and Hawaii, are based on mid-week travel. Weekend travel days are typically $10-$30 higher, per direction, for both domestic and international destinations. All airfares shown on e-Scapes are exclusive of taxes, fees, unless noted otherwise. Fuel surcharges on international trips can add from $200-$400 to base rates shown above, varying by continent.

Clark Howard’s Travel e-Scapes Team reminds you that the information in this newsletter is researched on the same day that you receive it. It can happen that by the time you read your copy a particular airfare may already have expired, especially the “HOT” deals listed. Airlines can publish and then ‘pull’, or discontinue sales without warning. Timing is everything!

Get more of Clark’s best travel deals Mondays through Fridays on the Atlanta Travel Deals page.

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