17 JUN 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:


Sunwing reports that it has grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft until at least Sept. 2 and has invested in additional flying capacity and reconfigured its schedule to accommodate the situation. Any necessary changes to clients’ travel plans will be communicated directly to travel counsellors, says the airline.

A new Maple Leaf Lounge Express has opened for Air Canada passengers in the Terminal 1 transborder departure area at Toronto Pearson airport. Able to accommodate 50 business class passengers and select loyalty tier and Star Alliance Gold members, the lounge is located near gate F84-F99.

Wth the launch of WestJet's Dreamliners from Calgary to London (Gatwick), Paris and Dublin, the airline reminds that guests travelling across its global network can now experience an elevated amenities and on-board experience reflecting WestJet’s Canadian roots. Available onboard Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 767 and 737 transatlantic service, guests will hear classic Canadian music from Juno award-winning recording artist Sean Jones during boarding; and receive Canadian produced and populated amenity and soap kits for business class passengers. More enhancements will roll out across the WestJet fleet throughout 2019 and 2020.


Transat is inviting travellers to cruise for less by taking advantage of early bird savings of $300 per couple for cruises booked 120 days before departure. And those who book by Aug. 21 will also receive a reduced deposit of only $150 and a $50 future travel voucher. The promotion is valid for travel between Nov. 1 and Oct. 31, 2020.

Until June 21, clients can save up to 30% on select sun destination departures through Sunwing’s Countdown to Summer Sale. Sample resorts include the Vista Sol Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Grand Princess All Suites and Spa Resort in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, Riu Negril in Jamaica.

Through June 24, TravelBrands’ “Super Sale” offers clients $700 per couple off or one child flies free at applicable Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts properties in the Riviera Maya, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, La Romana, Samana and Jamaica. Agents who book TravelGenie packages or hotel-only stays can save their clients $200 with special promo code BAHIA10. Agents can also earn 10X Loyalty Rewards points on applicable bookings.


The Globus family of brands – comprised of Globus, Cosmos, Monograms and Avalon Waterways – is asking travellers to choose e-documents over printed travel itineraries, prior to their vacations. When they choose the eco-friendly option – eliminating paper and plastic use and waste – Globus will donate funds to The Ocean Cleanup to aid in their efforts to clean-up the world’s oceans.

Based on user feedback, The Travel Corporation has released an updated version of its year-old My Travel Portal, which is designed to support travel agents by providing enhanced clients services such as personalized trip planning, an e-doc hub and more. The portal’s 2.0 version “means even less hassle for agents and their clients alike” when booking product from brands such as Trafalgar, Insight, Contiki and Uniworld, says TTC. New highlights include adding guests’ emergency contacts and obtaining clients’ personal preferences, all in one centralized platform. More TTC brands and additional enhancements and tools will continue to be added, says the company.

Collette believes that travel “should make a positive impact,” both on their guests and throughout the world. To that end, the tour operator has launched a program of socially responsible experiences dubbed “impact moments” throughout its explorations tours, enabling guests to connect with indigenous cultures by learning how to preserve their way of life, helping restore and protect the environment, and through visits with local non-profits. The special moments ensure that travel is used as a “force for good,” says John Sutherland, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility.


LWTM-Fairmont - bee house

To celebrate Pollinator Month in June, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has introduced the next evolution of its Bee Sustainable programming with the launch of a new interactive digital hub, fairmontbeesustainable.com. The new platform, which includes the installation of cameras and hive-tracking devices at five properties including Vancouver’s Fairmont Waterfront, was created to help educate guests about the importance of global bee health and to encourage visitors to follow along through in-depth analysis, real time hive monitoring and the latest updates from its rooftop apiaries and bee hotels.

Travellers living a high-performance lifestyle will welcome the July 15 debut of Equinox Hotel, New York City, the first property by the celebrated fitness brand. Located in in the new Hudson Yards neighbourhood on Manhattan's West Side, the 212-room, 48-suite hotel will offer the ultimate slumber chambres featuring soundproofing and blackout blinds; natural-fibre mattresses; and access to an Equinox Sleep Coach. Guests, who automatically become Equinox Fitness Club members during their stay, will have 24-hour access to the largest-ever Equinox Fitness Club and all its amenities and programs.


The 111-room Hilton Garden Inn Panama City has completed a multimillion-dollar renovation following damage sustained from Hurricane Michael in October 2018.  After nine months revamping the building's interior and exterior, the property opened its doors to the public on June 12.


For the first time ever, Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys has opened its annual Heroes Salute program to Canadian residents. The program, which runs Aug. 1-Dec. 19 until Dec. 19, honours active and retired military, fire and rescue, law enforcement and medical personnel with special room rates, weekly tributes and discounted prices on experiences and resort activities. A special Heroes Salute Weekend Aug. 30-Sept. 1 will feature activities including a 5K Run/Walk, live music concert, barbeque, tribute ceremony featuring fireworks, and more. Rates for qualified “heroes” start at $129 (CA$173) per night.


LWTM-princess cruise lines - sip & sail

The Sip + Sail promotion by Princess Cruises gives free beverage packages to guests booking select cruises and cruise-tours through July 16 in destinations such as Alaska, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia & Russia, the British Isles, Caribbean and Japan, departing January 2020 to May 2021. Sip + Sail offers guests booking balcony, mini-suite, or suite staterooms a free Premier Beverage Package for two people, while guests booking oceanview or interior stateroom will receive a free Premier Coffee & Soda Package. Plus, a free Premier Coffee & Soda Package for third and fourth guests in the stateroom is also included.

The year-long “Why Use a Travel Advisor” program by Carnival Cruise Lines is being expanded with such initiatives as the launch of WUATA.com, a WUATA brochure and an exclusive WUATA Facebook page. The industry’s first consumer-focused efforts are 100% dedicated to promoting value of using a travel advisor, says Carnival. “This is an incredible opportunity to reach thousands of new potential clients (and) help raise awareness that travel agents rock!” says Adolfo Perez, Carnival’s senior VP of global sales. Check out the site HERE.

Victory Cruise Lines, which conducts small-ship cruising on the Great Lakes, North American and Canadian coasts, has revealed its 2020 program, including six new itineraries onboard the M/V Victory I and M/V Victory II. New voyage itineraries will reach further into North America’s northeast including sailings from Buffalo to Halifax, along the St. Lawrence Seaway and along New England’s rocky coast, sailing from Niagara Falls to Boston via Montreal, Quebec City and Portland, Maine. Great Lakes itineraries have been refreshed after a successful inaugural year and will include sailings from Chicago to Hamilton, Ont., and Chicago to Montreal, with ports of call including Detroit, Cleveland, Mackinac Island, Manitoulin Island and Sault Ste. Marie.


Universal Studios Hollywood will light up the night with its first-ever July 4 fireworks celebration, inviting guests to enjoy a spectacular aerial display that will take place in multiple locations within the theme park. The event starts at 9:30 p.m. and is included with in the price of admission to the California theme park.


St. Maarten’s Sonesta Resorts has introduced a “see for yourself” travel agent program for the new-look Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa. The former, which re-opened on Dec. 15 and the latter, Feb. 27, have undergone months of renovation and boast a fresh look, storm-proofing, upgraded amenities and entertainment options. Industry rates for the all-inclusives are $145 (CA$195) p.p. per night for a junior suite at the adult’s-only Ocean Point, and $85 (CA$114) to $105 (CA$140) and $45 (CA$60) for kids aged six to 12, under five are free at Maho Beach. Agents must provide valid ID (such as IATA card) at check-in and a site inspection is required. (sales@sonestastmaarten.com)


The Skal chapters in Toronto and Toronto North are combining to host this year’s annual golf tournament in the Toronto region. Scheduled for Lionshead Golf & Country Club in Brampton, Ont., on Wed. Aug. 21, the event is open to all members of the travel industry, not just Skal members. Participants can also choose to attend the evening reception/dinner only and corporate sponsorship opportunities are available. For further details, e-mail Kimberly@travelsolutionsbydesign.com.


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For the third successive year, TravelBrands has been recognized as an honouree of the prestigious US Travel Association Chairman’s Circle, which recognizes “a selection of international companies for outstanding efforts to bring the world to America.” Accepting the award (photo) at the recent IPW trade show in California from Brand USA president and CEO Chris Thompson (l) and USTA president and CEO Roger Dow (r) was TravelBrands VP Eli Cal. Other Canadian honorees included Air Canada Vacations and WestJet Vacations.

Sam Youssef has been promoted to Vice President, Integrated Marketing at Red Label Vacations, responsible for marketing activities across all channels. Youssef joined RLV in 2014 and has over two decades experience in the Canadian travel industry. He can be reached at Sam.Youssef@travelbrands.com.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Bujtas also moves up to Director of Sales and Operations for Red Label Vacations’ retail brands redtag.ca and itravel2000.com. She has worked for itravel in Mississauga for 14 years in a variety of roles. She can be reached at Carolyn@redlabelvacations.com.


G Adventures has announced the establishment of a second global headquarters in the United States with the creation of an HQ2 in downtown Boston. An enhancement of the tour company’s existing space, the second head office will complement the efforts of the company's founding home base in Toronto. “The USA represents our largest opportunity for growth in the future. We've really only scratched the surface of what we can do there,” says G Adventures founder and owner Bruce Poon Tip.


The US Travel Association’s annual IPW trade show, which recently celebrated its 51st incarnation in Anaheim, Ca., in early June, welcomed 6,000 delegates from 70 countries – including a record number of delegates from China – as well as 500 media. USTA says the show will generate $5.5 (CA$7.37) billion in direct travel spending in the US over the next three years.


Stocky, white haired- and bearded men take note: Key West’s annual Hemingway Days festival celebrating the life and work of the legendary author Ernest Hemingway will take place July 16-21, with a full slate of activities in Florida’s southernmost city: prose and poetry readings, the wacky “running of the bulls,” 5k run/walk and paddleboard race, presentations on the writer’s influence, a three-day marlin fishing tournament, and, of course, lookalike contest.

Jamaica’s popular Reggae Sumfest kicks off in Montego Bay July 14 for a week-long celebration of the island’s iconic musical style, including a full slate of concerts and parties. Sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board, the entertainment line-up for the 27th annual event includes Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Bounty Killer, as well as Chronixx, Spice, Spragga Benz, Elephant Man, Protégé, Beres Hammond, and others. Details and tix HERE. https://www.reggaesumfest.com

A new hotspot for food lovers is coming to Montréal: Time Out Market Montréal is set to open in late 2019 in the Centre Eaton de Montréal on Sainte-Catherine Street. The venue will bring top restaurants, bars and cultural experiences together under one roof with a curated mix of 16 food offerings, two bars, a demo kitchen, a cooking academy, a retail shop and a cultural stage.

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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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