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


Select travel agents from Western Canada got a glimpse of WestJet’s new 787 Dreamliner in Calgary last week. Agents were able to walk through the Dreamliner during the “Show and Shine” event to view and experience cabins, amenities, meal options, onboard entertainment and the social area, and meet Dreamliner crew. The first Dreamliner will fly guests domestically on select Toronto/Calgary routes starting Feb. 20 before the first international service from Calgary to London (Gatwick) on April 28.

Air Canada is upgrading Air Canada Express regional aircraft to larger Air Canada Rouge aircraft with inflight amenities on its flights from Toronto to Fredericton, Moncton and Thunder Bay, and from Montreal to St. John's. Transborder routes from Toronto to Nashville, Washington Dulles and Memphis will also get larger aircraft while daily frequencies will be added from Toronto to Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Austin as well as Montreal to Baltimore.

Wow Air is offering US$45 one-way flights to Iceland from New York (EWR), Boston (BOS), Detroit (DTW) and Baltimore/Washington, D.C. (BWI). Applicable to 1,000 seats on select flights, the fares can be booked starting Feb. 18 for travel March 1 - May 31.


Until Feb. 28, Goway is offering savings of $900 on its East Africa sampler small group safari in April and May. Savings of $435 also apply to the Tanzania and Kenya sampler tours, while those booking a Zambia walking safari will receive a $250 discount.

Collette’s 12%-off flash sale on tours to Spain, Portugal and France, featuring 17 itineraries and over 100 departure dates, runs through Feb. 19. A full list of eligible tours is available on the tour operator’s web site. Use offer Code: FLASH12.

This winter, Hilton is offering deep weekend discounts to visitors in four destinations across the northeast U.S. Travellers can explore Boston, New York City, Philadelphia or Washington D.C. like a local with Hilton’s “Weekend Like a Local” package. Guests can choose from more than 140 properties and save up to 50% off Sunday night stays, with discounts to exclusive experiences from theatre and entertainment to sporting events, dining and more.


G Adventures reports that it has seen a 72% increase in travellers to Uzbekistan over the past five years with “interest in exploring the ‘stans showing no sign of slowing down.” In 2019, the tour operator has two new trips to the Central Asian country, including Best of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, the latter an entirely new destination for G. The 13-day trip, travelling from Tashkent to Ashgabat, is priced from $2,399 p.p. with departures beginning in May. In 2018 Uzbekistan eased entry requirements with the introduction of new e-visas for 51 countries, including Canada.

Just-launched one-stop activity booking site Whistler Adventures allows users to book extensive (and locally recommended) itineraries for family adventures, business trips, celebrations and parties, and special events with the most popular activities all in one place. Activities include skiing and snowboarding, bear watching, zip lining, golf, motorsports, axe throwing and white-water rafting to name a few.

In addition to activity bookings, the site also has recommendations for sightseeing, places to stay and places to eat, and has handy trip planner guides for any time of year. 

Nordic Travel Specialist, 50 Degrees North (with an office in Vancouver) has introduced a new nine-day tour aimed at active adventurers with a reasonable fitness level and a love for hiking. The “Western Fjords Hike” utilizes a private mini bus with space for 12 travelling off the beaten path into the heart of the secluded Western fjords in Norway, away from the summer crowds. The self-guided tour starts from Bergen and finishes in Ålesund; highlights include a ferry ride from Bergen to Kalvåg, travel along the Norfjord and the Hjørundfjord fjords, and a Wildlife Sea Safari in a high-speed RIB-boat. The trip runs weekly from July to September with fixed departures from Bergen every Thursday. Price is $3,950 p.p.


nobu warsaw

The next stop in Nobu Hotel’s global expansion will be Warsaw. Set to open in the first half of 2020, Nobu Hotel Warsaw (artist’s rendering above) will be situated in the heart of the historic Polish city on Wilcza Street. Based on the core value of unpretentious elegance and reflecting local culture, the 120-room property will encompass the existing Hotel Rialto and feature a signature Nobu Restaurant. Nobu Hospitality, a global luxury lifestyle brand co-founded by actor Robert De Niro is on track for 20 hotels in its global portfolio by 2020.

Set to open on June 1 – just in time for the Montreal Grand Prix (June 7-9) and the Jazz Festival (June 27-July 6) – the new Fours Seasons Hotel Montreal is now confirming reservations. Located on Rue St. Catherine downtown and connected to the adjacent Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, the hotel will also the first Canadian restaurant by chef Marcus Samuelsson. The opening marks the return of the brand to the city after being absent for close to two decades.

Red Roof’s Lord & Moris Times Square Hotel is the brand’s third Red Collection property and first in New York. Premised on giving guests “an authentic upper midscale experience at a value price, in the hearts of cities they love,” the hotel is situated in the heart of Times Square with 78 guest rooms are smartly designed spaces, some with bunk beds for friends and families travelling together. Two additional Red Collection properties will open in Brooklyn later this year.


Donuts  Coffee_Sandals Royal Barbados_1 (002)

Pastry aficionado Homer Simpson will be delighted to learn that Sandals Royal Barbados has opened the brand’s first-ever donut shop, Sweet n’ Salty’s Gourmet Donuts & Coffee (photo). Said to be the first exclusive donut-only eatery at a Caribbean all-inclusive, the venue also serves gourmet lattes, cappuccinos and coffees.

Ocean Dunes Resort, a popular hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, located on the northern section of the beach, will officially adopt a new name on March 1, the North Shore Hotel. The rebranding is accompanied by US$600,000 in renovations, including the addition of a black light indoor mini golf course.

Put a little sugar on this: Def Leppard will start a residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas starting Aug. 14.


With the introduction of three new vessels in Vietnam, Egypt and Portugal with another Super Ship renovation in Italy, more than half of the ships in Uniworld’s fleet will be Super Ships by 2020, says the river cruise operator. The new floating boutique hotels will feature more suites, dining venues and luxurious finishes, while maintaining a high crew to guest ratio. The new ships launching in 2020 include: S.S. Sphinx, Egypt; S.S. São Gabriel, Portugal; and S.S. La Venezia, Venice; and the River Countess will undergo a complete design renovation and re-emerge as S.S. La Venezi. Meanwhile, the Mekong Jewel will debut in Vietnam & Cambodia on Jan. 3, 2020.

The Celebrity Millennium is the first ship the to emerge from the cruise line’s “The Celebrity Revolution” fleetwide modernization program. After 35 days in drydock, the vessel is sailing again after a top-to-bottom refit, including completely redesigned staterooms and suites; the addition of The Retreat for suite guests, with an exclusive new sundeck and redesigned lounge; reimagined restaurants, bars, and lounges; a redesigned spa and casino; enhanced Wi-Fi; and new designer boutiques. Next up for renovation is the Celebrity Summit (already in dry-dock) with seven more ships to be modernized by 2023.

Guests aboard the Diamond Princess will now experience a refreshed onboard atmosphere following an extensive 14-day, multi-million-dollar dry dock in Singapore, continuing Princess Cruises’ “Come Back New Promise” commitment focused on investing more than $450 million across the global fleet.


It’s never too early to be thinking about Halloween for Universal Orlando Resort, which has revealed that its signature Halloween Horror Nights event will begin earlier than ever in 2019, running from Sept. 6 to Nov. 2. Select ticket and vacation package offers for the event are now on sale, including a second night free when buying a one-night flex ticket offer (available through June 5).

Disney's Riviera Resort is now accepting guest reservations for stays beginning in December. The all-new resort coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is slated to be the 15th Disney Vacation Club property and has a European Riviera theme. Guests at the resort will also have a new way to travel to Epcot or on to Disney's Hollywood Studios via Disney Skyliner, a state-of-the-art gondola system that will begin operating this fall.


Carnival Cruise Line has launched an interactive “Carnival Word Search Contest” for travel advisors in February. Designed to keep agents up to date on Carnival’s ships and itineraries, the game is available at Facebook.com/carnivaltrade; completing the three-word challenge automatically enters the agent in an instant daily giveaway for a $25 Amazon gift card, as well as the drawing for the grand prize — a three-day cruise on Carnival Panorama, which debuts in December.

Budapest and Croatia are on the itinerary for Contiki’s first FAM of the year, available to agents that have completed the mandatory courses in the tour operator’s e-learning training course. The trip will take place May 12-18 and interested agents are encouraged to apply no later than March 16 by completing an application form and telling Contiki in 100 words or more how they plan to increase their Contiki sales after completing the FAM. E-mail sales@continki.ca.

Travel agents who book a Goway experience from the tour operator’s new Downunder brochure before March 31 will receive double Goway Rewards, paid directly on to their Goway Rewards card. Additionally, Goway BDMs who find the brochure displayed on agency racks will receive a special Aussie prize. Additionally, agencies that send a creative photo of the brochure on display in their office to sales@goway.com will qualify to receive a basked filled with Aussie treats.

As part of its new partnership with Celebrity Cruises, travel counsellors enrolling in ACTA’s the Certified Travel Counsellor (CTC) or Manager (CTM) programs will receive a $50 “scholarship” from the cruise line towards attainment of their professional designation.


After being charged by the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO), Karen Gushue was convicted on two counts of operating as a travel agent without registration contrary to S 4(1)(a) and S 31(1)(c) of the Travel Industry Act, 2002. Sentencing proceedings are scheduled to take place on April 12.


Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports that Instagram posts are driving interest in travel around the world, so much so that on an average day, there can be close to 351 million posts with the tag #travel.


Booking.com data reveals that almost one in five (19%) travellers plan to travel to attend a Pride festival in 2019, most prominently younger explorers with almost a third (30%) 18- to 34-year-olds. Meanwhile, platforms such as Destination Pride are harnessing the power of multiple data sources to provide travellers with a ranking of how LGBT+ friendly their chosen travel destination is.


The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog has officially opened its doors in New York at its new location, 101 Park Ave. in Midtown Manhattan near Grand Central Station. The Museum houses one of the world's largest collections of canine fine art including works from famous dog artists such as Sir Edwin Landseer, Maud Earl, and Arthur Wardle. It also has a two-story glass vitrine that encases rare porcelains and bronzes, in addition to a library where users can learn about their favourite breeds. The Museum's first exhibition will be entitled "For the Love of All Things Dog."

Following last year’s World Cup of Football, France is set to host the FIFA Women's World Cup from June 7 to July 7. Games will take place in nine cities including Grenoble, Le Havre, Montpellier, Nice, Reims, and Rennes. France will look to equal the success of its victorious men’s team in the 24-team tourney, which includes 5th-ranked Canada.

With the opening of Halong International Cruise Port, Halong city in northwestern Vietnam now has the capability to accommodate large cruises ships. Along with a new airport in city, tourism to the region, which notably features the iconic Halong Bay UNESCO world heritage site, is set to boom.

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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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