02 JUL 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:


The board of directors of Montreal-based Transat AT has approved Air Canada’s offer to acquire all its issued and outstanding shares and combine the two companies. The $520-million deal remains subject to regulatory and shareholder approvals and other typical closing conditions, which, if obtained, would see the merger completed in early 2020. Air Canada says it will preserve the Air Transat and Transat brands to complement Air Canada, Rouge, and Air Canada Vacations.

WestJet and Delta Air Lines’ proposed US – Canada transborder joint venture has cleared another hurdle, having received regulatory clearance in Canada; it still awaits the same south of the border. The partnership would enable the two airlines to deepen their existing partnership with expanded codesharing, reciprocal elite frequent flyer benefits, optimized growth across the US-Canada transborder networks, and co-location at key hubs with initiatives designed to deliver a more seamless guest experience. The partners would also begin implementing joint sales and marketing activities.

YYZ Live, a musical celebration featuring live performances by Toronto musicians, has taken to the stage once again in Toronto Pearson's Terminals 1 and 3. The encore music series runs until September and again during December.

Now flying:

• New non-stop Air Canada service between Montreal and Sydney, NS.
Porter Airlines celebrated its first flight from Billy Bishop airport to Muskoka Airport, serving Ontario’s cottage country.
• Kelowna, BC is now connected to Las Vegas via Swoop flight WO826, which departs YLW at 2:35 p.m. and arrives at LAS at 5:08 p.m.


Collette clients can now save up to $200 p.p. in tours booked over Christmas-New Years when using offer code HOLIDAY19. The offer is valid on new bookings made through Aug. 23 and includes destinations like California for New Years and the Christmas markets of Europe.

Through the end of the month, Princess Cruises’ annual Sun-Drenched Deals sale offers savings up to 35% and $99 fares for third and fourth guests in the stateroom. The sale is applicable to cruises departing fall-winter 2019 across the globe.

The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, Myrtle Beach Oceanfront has a new Picnic Basket package designed for hungry families on the go or couples looking for a relaxing rendezvous for two. With rates starting at $149 (CA$195), the package includes overnight accommodations in deluxe ocean view room, daily full hot breakfast, plus a hand-packed picnic basket each day, complete with a choice of freshly made sandwich or wrap, beverage, snack and dessert for each guest. The package is valid through Oct. 31 (use rate code 0PB).


Casa Gangotena is Quito’s first Relais & Châteaux hotel, reports Goway, which offers the landmark property in the Ecuadorian capital. Located in the city’s historic centre, Casa Gangotena is the first hotel in Quito to join the prestigious network, which recognizes outstanding, inspiring, or one-of-a-kind hotel or restaurants – elements Goway says are frequently found in its Stay of Distinction properties.

For a limited time, agents can lock in their clients’ 2020 Europe & Britain trips at 2019 prices with Trafalgar. The pre-sales deal comes in advance of the brand’s official 2020 launch later this year. Further, clients can save an additional 10% p.p. with Trafalgar’s early payment discount.

In celebration of the 89 Greater Los Angeles area restaurants recognized by the California Michelin guide with stars or Bib Gourmand distinctions, Los Angeles Tourism has partnered with local businesses to offer Michelin-inspired culinary adventures through the Discover L.A. Exclusives program all summer long. Partners include Preux & Proper, Avital Food Tours, Six Taste and Cartwheel Art, who are offering bespoke experiences ranging from pre-fixe menus to walking food tours. Click here for full DETAILS.


It’s sold out already, but just weird enough to mention: Fast food retailer Taco Bell is taking over a Palm Springs, Ca., hotel in August for a limited time. Aimed at “super fans” of the fast food chain, guests at “The Bell” will find Taco Bell apparel and paraphernalia, themed services such as hair and nails, and can even have a themed wedding. The experience, says the company will “make all of your taco dreams come true.”

Grand opening dates have been announced for the combined $2.2 (CA$2.9) billion expansions of Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. The latter – the world's first guitar hotel and casino complex – is on track to open Oct. 24 in south Florida. It follows the Oct. 3 grand opening of a major expansion of the Tampa property, which is Florida's largest casino.

The Loews Regency San Francisco is becoming a Four Seasons and will be renamed Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco at Embarcadero in 2020 following renovations. It’s the second hotel for the brand in the Golden Gate City.


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Universal Orlando Resort’s Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites – has opened its doors to guests as the destination’s first Value Category hotel. The 750-room hotel is the destination’s seventh property in partnership with Loews Hotels & Co., and has rates starting from $73 per night for a seven-night stay. Amenities include two-bedroom suites; theme parks benefits, such as early park admission; surfboard-shaped pool and more.


Star Clippers has launched a new brochure detailing the line’s unique tall ship sailing itineraries around the globe from September 2019 through April 2021. New port calls in the Mediterranean include Stintino in Sardinia, Propriano in Corsica, and Vis, Korcula and Zadar in Croatia. There are also several new itineraries in southeast Asia, featuring Cambodia for the first time. Guests booking by Sept. 30 will receive 65% off brochure pricing, a cabin upgrade valid for cabin categories 2-6, and pre-paid gratuities. Brochures can be ordered by mail or downloaded from the company web site.

Debuting in April 2020, U River Cruises will launch three new seven-night itineraries in Europe featuring added overnight stays, complimentary happy hour every night, and more active excursions. Next year will also see the relaunch of The B ship. U River Cruises’ new itineraries in 2020 include: Amsteram & Brussels Bound; Vienna Vibe; and Eastern Europe Escape, along with an updated Rolling on the Rhine. U Cruises, part of the Uniworld family, is aimed at “active, social and culturally curious” travellers.

In fall 2020, Disney Cruise Line aims to enchant guests of all ages with Halloween and winter holiday celebrations on sailings departing from New York, California, Texas and Florida. Halloween on the High Seas returns to Disney Cruise Line in September and October 2020 with select sailings across the fleet featuring a “mouse-querade” costume party, lively entertainment, ghoulish food and beverage delights, trick-or-treating, seasonal kids’ activities, a villainous party just for adults and a ghostly ship takeover with elaborate décor and a magical pumpkin tree. And from early November through December, the DCL fleet is decked from bow-to-stern with holiday cheer and entertainment during Very Merrytime Cruises.


Universal Studio Hollywood reports that it will offer fans an exclusive first look at its signature Halloween Horror Nights – dubbed Los Angeles’s “scariest and most intense Halloween event” – on Thursday, Sept. 12, one day before it officially opens on Sept. 13. Tickets can be bought online.


LWTM-las vegas event

Fifteen Las Vegas partners (photo, shown with members of Reach Global Canadian rep team) completed a three-city Canadian mission in Toronto last week (also including Quebec and Montreal) with a hundred travel agents in attendance. Ranging from MGM Resorts to Wynne Encore, and Caesars Entertainment to Pink Jeep Tours, guests got the latest lowdown on Sin City, along with dinner, drinks, and, of course, plenty of prizes.


Popular Canadian travel industry veteran and Disney Parks rep Ed Day was remembered at a ceremony in Pickering, Ont., on June 27, attended by many friends and colleagues from the travel industry. Day died suddenly on June 23 at 49 years of age.

The Globus family of brands has named Chris Jones to the role of director of marketing, responsible for Globus, Cosmos, Avalon Waterways and Monograms brands. He can be reached at chrisjones@globusfamily.ca.

TravelBrands has hired Michael Sette in the role of Business Development Manager for the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Eastern Ontario. Sette spent 14 years at Sears Travel. He can be reached Michael.sette@travelbrands.com.


Agents are invited to help give their favourite Ontario attraction “the attention they deserve” by voting in Attractions Ontario’s 4th Annual Ontario’s Choice Awards (OCA). Open to “anyone and everyone” through Sept. 22, participants can vote once per day in a series of eight categories ranging from top indoor attraction to top festival & event. Vote HERE.

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The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, has reopened its Hall of Fossils after a five-year renovation (photo). The hall, home to the museum's collection of dinosaur fossils and latest exhibit, Deep Time, has been restored to its former 1910, Beaux Arts Gallery design.

Every summer, sea turtle nesting season takes over Greater Fort Lauderdale’s shores, hosting thousands of nesting sea turtles and newborn hatchlings – the only time to see this endangered marine creature on land. Through special ‘Turtle Trek’ experiences, several local turtle programs offer visitors the chance to see Leatherback, Loggerhead and Green Sea Turtles come shoreside to lay eggs and the hatchlings make their maiden voyage to open water. Already this year’s nesting is exceeding recent years with nests in GFL beaches as of May 21.

Mexico’s Yucatán state – not to confused with the peninsula – is undergoing a tourism boom and in April saw a 27% growth in arrivals, including direct flights from Toronto into state capital Mérida. In the pipeline are 13 hotels, with new attractions coming online, as well, such as an anticipated Cenote Park near the colonial city of Valladolid and Chichén Itzá.

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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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