21 MAY 2019: In case you missed it, and even if you didn’t, here’s a quick look at some of last week’s need-to-know travel news:

AIR

As acquisition talks with Air Canada progress, Air Transat continues its fleet enhancement with the arrival of the first of 15 Airbus A321newLR aircraft that will be added to its fleet by 2022. Considered greenest in class, the aircraft consumes over 15% less fuel, generates 50% less noise in the cabin and communities, produces about 5,000 fewer tons of CO2 a year and lowers NOX emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain, by 50%. Air Transat’s second Airbus A321neoLR is set to land in June, with four more arriving in fall 2019. New planes will be gradually added, leading to an all-Airbus fleet by 2022.

Following “a rigorous process, including surveys and numerous interviews with key partners,” Montreal’s two airports have been rebranded as YUL Montréal-Trudeau International Airport and YMX International Aerocity of Mirabel. New logos, trademarks and images will be integrated “gradually over time” as ADM Aeroports de Montreal seeks to redefine Montréal-Trudeau as a credible destination-brand focused on travellers, and to revitalize the Mirabel site as a business destination of choice for international companies of the aeronautics industry.

Toronto Pearson airport has unveiled an “overhauled” web site designed to vastly improve the user experience. Features of the new bilingual torontopearson.com website include a new search feature and a customized Departures guide. Travellers can input their flight number and the website will populate information regarding services available, security screening location, food and beverage, and retail options available to them before and after security. An Arrivals guide provides passengers with instructions on Canadian Customs, retrieving luggage, options to get them to where they're going from the airport, and more.

DEALS

US low-fare carrier Frontier Airlines’ new Friends Fly Free promotion offers passengers one free round-trip ticket with the purchase of one round-trip Discount Den Fare, on qualifying flights and dates. Friends Fly Free is a new, periodic feature of the airline’s discount travel club, the Discount Den.

Through Sept. 30, visitors to Greater Fort Lauderdale can score savings with the 2-for-1 Summer Saving card, which offers more than 40 BOGO (buy one, get one) special offers to play on land, sand and sea, including options for boating/cruising, diving/snorkelling, museums, nature, restaurants, shopping, watersports, and spa and fitness. Sample suppliers include Billie Swamp Safari, Butterfly World and Bonnet House Museum & Gardens. Full details are available HERE.

Through June 4, Princess Cruises is offering clients booking a cruise, included gratuities, onboard spending money up to $500 and 2-for-1 deposits. Guests can also save up to 30% on select cruises.

TOURS

Contiki’s new Latin America 2020 program has five brand new trips to Patagonia and Colombia, plus 13 improved trips across Latin America. The Patagonia and Colombia itineraries join the ranks of 26 existing trips Contiki offers in Latin America, covering Peru (including the Inca Trail), Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, as well as off-the-beaten path destinations like Guatemala and Belize.

Foodies who find themselves in Toronto can experience an array of South Asian flavours and the new culinary artisanry of the city’s Little India and Gerrard East neighbourhoods on new tours by the Culinary Adventure Co. Serving up Pakistani kabobs, South Indian dosas, Canadian small batch cheeses, locally cured meats and a fresh dessert to finish, the late brunch food tour goes every Sunday. See the company web site for details.

Untouchable Tours: Chicago’s Original Gangster Tour now offers their tour daily. Guides present an account of the activities in Chicago during the 1920s and ‘30s Prohibition era, including the exploits of infamous names like Capone, Moran and Dillinger. Key sites included on the tour are the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the Biograph Theater and the Holy Name Cathedral.

HOTELS

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Glasgow is now home to the latest UK opening from Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Situated in a landmark location with a storied past, the luxury boutique Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel (photo) has retained original architectural features such as marble fireplaces, rich wood panelling, and lofty ceilings. With 113 rooms featuring marble bathrooms, luxury amenities and natural light, the hotel also offers guests a nightly hosted evening social hour, free bikes to explore the city, in-room yoga mats and Kimpton’s ‘Forgot It, We’ve Got It’ service of essential travel items. Double rooms start from £155 (CA$265).

Best Western’s new GLo hotel, debuted in Canada last week as the “modern and energetic boutique brand” continues to roll out across North America. Featuring state-of-the-art technology, including a digital concierge, along with communal workspaces, GLo Kanata Ottawa West is located near the Canadian Tire Centre.

From May 26 to June 2, 1969, Montreal’s The Queen Elizabeth Hotel was in the international spotlight as John Lennon and Yoko Ono held their infamous Bed-in for peace. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of event, the hotel (now a Fairmont) will conduct a series of commemorative events the week of May 25 including guided tours, party, concert, photography exhibit and more.

RESORTS

Transat reports the opening of the five-star Marival Armony Luxury Resorts & Suites in Punta de Mita, about an hour from Puerto Vallarta, where Banderas Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. Featuring a 281-metre stretch of white-sand beach, the 268-room resort has five bars and five restaurants and caters to both families and adults with an exclusive section for guests aged 18-plus.

A new Dreams resort will replace the Hilton Curacao in December. AMResorts will spend US$15 million renovating and rebranding the property before opening the 197-room Dreams Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino on Piscadera Bay. Amenities will include private balcony, two private white sand beaches, two culinary concepts, a luxury spa, state-of-the-art fitness facilities, a corner shop and café and more. The property is suitable for couples and families.

The 15th annual Waa Kiakahi celebration, which welcomes waa (canoe) crews from across the Hawaiian Islands to share the history and proficiency of traditional Hawaiian sailing canoes, is set for June 7-9 at Maui’s Kaanapali Beach Resort. Created and organized by the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe Association (HSCA), the three-day event features traditional ceremonies, sailing canoe rides and educational talks about celestial navigation and water skills. The public is invited to interact with the canoes and sailors on Kaanapali Beach.

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Touted as “unlike any private island the world has ever seen,” Perfect Day at CocoCay (photo), the first in the Royal Caribbean International’s new Perfect Day Island Collection of private destinations around the world – is now open. The $250-million (CA$336 million) transformation of the line’s private island in The Bahamas features the tallest waterslide in North America, helium balloon ride, the Caribbean’s largest freshwater pool, white sand beaches and more. The island will be a port of call for RCI guests sailing from Florida and the US Northeast.  Read more in The Cruisington Times:

Boutique luxury cruise line Aqua Expeditions will enter the coastal cruise market this fall. After operating as an Amazon and Mekong River cruise line for the past 12 years, the company has added two new luxury vessels to its fleet: Aqua Blu and Aqua Nera. The former is Aqua Expeditions' first coastal ship, and the first-ever long-range expedition-class yacht to be permanently based in the east Indonesian archipelago. It will offer year-round departures and will begin service on Nov. 16. Meanwhile, the state-of-the-art Aqua Nera, will begin service in the Peruvian Amazon on Aug. 1, 2020.

Princess Cruises will expand its MedallionClass Vacations to six additional ships in 2020 – Ruby Princess (Jan. 27), Grand Princess (March 29), Enchanted Princess (June 15), Emerald Princess (Aug. 16), Coral Princess (Oct. 16), and Island Princess (Dec. 20) – bringing the personalized cruise vacation concept to Australia, New Zealand and a World Cruise for the first time. MedallionClass Vacations are currently available on Caribbean Princess, Regal Princess and Royal Princess, with Crown Princess starting July 24 and Sky Princess beginning Oct. 12. OceanMedallion is a complimentary wearable device that elevates the guest experience by enhancing guest-crew interactions, eliminating friction points and enabling interactive entertainment to deliver a high level of service and personalized attention on a large scale.

THEME PARKS

SeaWorld San Antonio has unveiled Turtle Reef, featuring a first-of-its-kind biofiltration habitat. Guests can get an up-close look at endangered and rescued sea turtles and multi-coloured fish, while learning more about the human impact on the oceans. Additionally, the park opened two new thrill rides that further enhance the attraction's theme of sea turtle conservation.  Riptide Rescue is a rescue adventure, taking families on a mission to help save marine animals, and Sea Swinger, a high swing ride that launches riders on an arc almost parallel with the ground at the top of its trajectory, before sending them soaring to the same point in the opposite direction—all in mere seconds.

A new high-flying thrill ride has debuted at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Finnegan's Flyer takes riders to staggering heights of more than 25 metres, with speeds reaching almost 80 kph. Two pendulum-like arms fly progressively higher over the park with each swing providing incredible aerial views of the park. The duelling arms swing back-and-forth, the ground plummeting into view with each swing.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

To thank Canadian travel agents for their ongoing support, Avalon Waterways has announced new rewards for this year and next for all bookings made and deposited between before Aug. 31. Agents booking 2019 departures will be eligible to receive a $100 gift card for all bookings, while 2020 departures will be eligible for a $50 gift card. Any group bookings, when a $250 non-refundable deposit has been paid, will be eligible for the same reward. To claim a gift card, send invoice numbers to insidesales@globusfamily.ca.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Sunwing Vacations has named Lauren Lamonday as BDM for South Western Ontario, including Hamilton, Burlington, Niagara Peninsula, Brantford, London, Windsor, Owen Sound, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and surrounding communities. The 12-year travel industry veteran can be reached at llamonday@sunwing.ca.

The Travel Corporation brand Lion World Travel has promoted Leeann Phayre-Mallo and David (Red) Hunt to VP of Operations and Sales and VP of Marketing respectively. The two will continue to operate from head office in Toronto.

TRAVELSAVERS continues to grow and expand in Quebec with the addition of Claude Gingras as Director, New Business Development. Well known to the travel industry in Quebec, Gingras’ focus will be supporting the existing TRAVELSAVERS members in the province as well as continuing the growth of new members.

BY THE NUMBERS

2018 was a record year for Orlando with 75 million visitors, representing a 4.2% increase over the prior year and solidifying the city’s status as America’s most-visited destination. All of Orlando’s key international markets experienced growth in 2018, including Canada with 1.21 million visitors, an increase of 3.3%. Other data: 68.55 million domestic visitors (+4.1%); 6.48 million international guests (+5.4%); and 47.7 million passengers (+6.9%) at Orlando International Airport (OIA).

DESTINATIONS

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The Statue of Liberty Museum merges landscape and building, and the roof is planted with native meadow grasses and offers visitors sweeping, panoramic views of Lady Liberty, lower Manhattan, and all of New York Harbor. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)

New York has a new attraction of note: The Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island, which opened last week. New York mayor Bill de Blasio said, "America needs this museum and what it represents now more than ever. Immigration defines us, and New York is the ultimate city of immigrants.” The 2,400-sq.-m. museum features three gallery spaces, each one meant to inspire visitors and educate them about the Statue of Liberty in interactive and thought-provoking ways. The experience culminates with an up-close view of Liberty’s most iconic symbol, her original torch, held high for nearly 100 years. Access to the museum is free with the purchase of a Statue Cruises ferry ticket to Liberty and Ellis Islands.

Taking place every two years, the Manchester International Festival of original, new work and special events is the biggest event on Manchester’s cultural calendar. This year’s event, to be held July 4-21 at venues all over the city, will be the last before the festival takes up permanent residence in the North of England’s flagship new cultural venue, The Factory.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group has announced R.U.N – a ground-breaking new show and the entertainment group's first live action thriller, premiering at Luxor in Las Vegas this fall. R.U.N. will use live action performance, cutting-edge technology and multimedia to explore the world of stunts.

Send info to baginski@travelindustrytoday.com.


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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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