08 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:

AIR

Canada has concluded new and expanded air transport agreements with Ecuador, Tunisia and Grenada that take effect immediately. The agreement with Ecuador allows designated airlines to operate more flights per week to and from Canada and permits designated airlines to serve any city in the other country. Similarly, the agreement with Tunisia allows designated airlines to operate more scheduled flights per week between Canada and the North African nation. And the new agreement with Grenada is an Open Skies-type agreement, which allows an unlimited number of flights between Canada and Caribbean island.

Starting Oct. 28, Air Canada will launch daily non-stop, year-round flights between Calgary and Terrace, BC, which will complement the airline's five times daily flights between Vancouver and Terrace. The airline also plans to increase capacity on key western regional routes including Vancouver Island, Northern and Interior BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and Winnipeg.

Swoop has announced service to San Diego from Edmonton and Abbotsford, BC beginning Oct. 4. The non-stop San Diego routes will be offered every Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

Now flying:

Air Canada marked the launch July 3 of new non-stop seasonal service from Montreal to Bordeaux. The service to the popular French wine region runs three days a week until Sept. 8.

DEALS

Until Aug. 27, with travel dates through Feb. 15, 2020, Club Med’s WOW Sale offers up to 45% off and up to $300 instant savings with rates starting at $115 per night per adult. Other incentives also apply.

Whistler-based hotels Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside and Pan Pacific Village Centre have announced early bird discounts for the winter 2020 season. Vacationers looking to plan their next ski holiday will receive up to 35% off their stay by booking by July 31.

TOURS

All 2020 North American tours from Globus and Cosmos are now open for sale. Featured are several new itineraries including Globus’s “Quebec in Depth with the Gaspé Peninsula” and “Western Canada with Inside Passage Cruise” from Cosmos. Some are centred on special events, such as the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower (“Cape Cod and the Islands”), and the Jasper Dark Sky Festival. Travellers save 10% when booking any Globus 2020 North American tour by Dec. 2; and $50 off any Cosmos tour when they book by Oct 22.

Taking a cruise to the base of the Horseshoe Falls is an amazing experience unto itself; doing it after nightfall, with fireworks lighting up the night sky and a social gathering to kick off the night takes it to another level. Hornblower Niagara Cruises’ all-new VIP Brews & Crews Event features a two-hour pre-cruise party in a VIP event tent with private bar service (two free drinks provided), appetizers, and live DJ, before priority boarding for a 40-minute Falls Fireworks Cruise. Priced under $100, the cruise is offered daily through Sept. 2 and then weekends until Thanksgiving.

A new class of service is now available to Glacier Express passengers in addition to the Swiss train’s traditional 1st and 2nd-class coaches. The new premium Excellence class features a five-course meal including wine, afternoon tea, concierge, and more. Thanks to the comfortable window lounge seating, each of the 20 travellers in Excellence Class has front-row seats to exceptional views during the eight-hour journey across the Alps. Reservations can be made 90 days in advance.

HOTELS

LWTM-melia agent event

Eight Melia sales executives recently called in Canada to meet with agents and promote the advantages of selling the giant hotel and resort chain, including weddings, leisure and meetings options as well as MeliaRewards loyalty program. In all, some 275 agents attended the sixth annual mission events in Oakville and Thornhill, Ont., and in Laval and Quebec City, Que. In attendance were hotel reps from Mexico, the DR, Nassau and Jamaica (photo, l-r): Nathalie Carpentier, Melia Hotels Int. (Eastern Canada); Irian Salomon, Melia Cozumel; Gail Fox, Melia Nassau Beach; Sheryl Campbell, Melia Braco Village in Jamaica; Rubi Palacio, Melia Puerto Vallarta; Maria Juanita Hernandez, Punta Cana; Fernanda Torres, Paradisus Los Cabos; Sandra G Salazar, Paradisus Playa del Carmen; and Yajahira Puc, Paradisus Cancun.

Re-opening on Sept. 12, the Okura Tokyo will feature two main buildings: "The Okura Heritage Wing" and "The Okura Prestige Tower." The latter focuses on a more traditional Japanese design, while the 41-floor Prestige Tower follows a more modern approach while weaving in aspects of Japanese tradition and sensibility. The Club Lounge is available to guests staying in the Heritage Wing or on Club Floors in the Tower.

Now open:

A new dual-branded Home2 Suites by Hilton/Hilton Garden Inn is now open in Brampton, Ont. The property is the first Home2 Suites by Hilton in the suburban Toronto city and follows the recent opening of the All Suites brands by Hilton’s 30th Canadian property (consisting of Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites) in Ottawa. Located at 200 Steelwell Rd., near the 410 and 407 highways, the 120-room pet-friendly property is also close to Pearson International Airport. Amenities include king and whirlpool suites with full kitchens, business and fitness centres, free parking and WiFi, pool, complimentary breakfast, and patio barbecues.

RESORTS

St. Lucia's Anse Chastanet is going vegan – at least on one of the menus at its Emeralds restaurant. Previously the menu was vegetarian. An average of three other nightly menus at the resort’s two dining locations are still on offer, all of which feature vegetarian and vegan choices; however, Emeralds will now cater exclusively to vegans with a modern tapas style menu. The menu was created by James Beard award winner and consulting chef Allen Susser in collaboration with the vegan chef de cuisine at the resort, Frank Faucher. As an added bonus, Emeralds plans to regularly host international vegan chefs.

If Barbados isn’t exotic enough, sun clients could consider Bulgaria, where RIU Hotels & Resorts’ has opened its seventh property in the country, the RIU Palace Sunny Beach resort. Located on the Black Sea, the new five-star adults-only resort has a private guests-only area on the beach with direct access.

CRUISE

voyageur

A $97-million new look for Royal Caribbean’s Voyageur of the Seas (photo) will feature two racer waterslides, a reinvigorated Vitality Spa and redesigned kids and teens spaces when the ship sets sail on a series of three- to five-night Southeast Asia itineraries from Singapore beginning Oct. 21. The transformed ship will then settle into its South Pacific season out of Sydney, Australia, starting Nov. 30.

EVENTS

The 10th annual Travel Talk event series by Trafalgar and Costsaver kicks off this week and will run 40 dates across Canada throughout the summer. And this year, agents who can’t attend can log in to view the proceedings from their home or office via webinar. At the events, agents and their clients have the opportunity to meet like-minded travellers and have their questions answered by company experts, plus have a chance to win prizes. The first of the events will take place in Oshawa, Ont. and Victoria, BC (July 9), followed by Markham, Ont. and Burnaby, BC (July 10) and Brampton/Mississauga, Ont. (July 11). For a full list of dates and locations, click HERE.

July 31 is the RSVP deadline for agents wishing to attend Air Canada Vacations’ fall product launches in September. Dates are as follows: Sept. 10, Calgary; Sept. 11, Vancouver; Sept. 13, Halifax; Sept. 17, Montreal; Sept.19, Toronto. The events will feature trade show, entertainment and prizes in support of the launch of the fall-winter Sun collection. Contact the company for details and RSVP links.

Skal’s Toronto chapters remind that they will host a combined golf tournament this year at 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.

FAMS/INCENTIVES

Throughout July, agents can earn 2X STAR Agent Rewards Points with Sunwing that convert into cash on all new bookings to Playa Hotels & Resorts properties (including Hyatt Ziva & Zilaras, Panama Jack, various Hiltons, and more). Reduce rates and incentives for clients are also in effect.

To celebrate its four new destinations offered from Vancouver next winter (Fort Lauderdale; Liberia and San José, Costa Rica; and Punta Cana, DR), Transat is offering travel agents 5x Bonbon on all flights, cruises, packages and guided tours booked before July 31 for travel between Dec. 18 and April 30, 2020.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

Sir Royston Hopkin KCMG, chairman of Grenada's Spice Island Beach Resort, has been bestowed with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the recent 2019 Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit, the latest in a long list of accolades for the distinguished tourism veteran, whose career spans 54 years in the Caribbean.

NEWS

Western Union Business Solutions, a leader in global payment services and foreign exchange, is ACTA’s newest corporate partner. "(WUBS) offers valuable business tools and consultation for any of our members who would like to ease the complexity of international money movement,” said ACTA prez Wendy Paradis, adding that the company will attend ACTA events, and provide subject matter for ACTA’s learning and development content.

DESTINATIONS

LWTM-blenheim palace, portrait

A full-length portrait of Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough, and once considered the most beautiful woman in the world has gone on public display at Blenheim Palace. The picture, painted by renowned artist Giovanni Boldini in 1916, is part of the Oxfordshire, UK UNESCO World Heritage Site's ongoing program to recover lost works of art. Painted in Paris five years before the American beauty married the ninth Duke of Marlborough, the portrait is one of a series, which depict the cosmopolitan elite of the Belle Époque. It is said to have inspired works of art by Rodin, Degas, Epstein and other leading artists. In addition to the Boldini portrait, which is on display to visitors as part of the Private Apartments tour, Blenheim Palace has also acquired 15 paintings and 40 miniatures from the Estate of Viscount Churchill.

On July 23 and 24, local divers and lobster lovers will hit the water for a two-day lobster mini season in south Florida. The event allows recreational divers to catch lobsters (or “bugs” according to local vernacular) leading-up to commercial season. Lauderdale-By-The-Sea celebrates the season with BugFest-By-The-Sea July 23-27 – a week of events including the Great Florida Bug Hunt, a Mini-Season Kickoff Party at Plunge Beach Hotel, lobster chef competition and more.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has unveiled a new honeymoon registry featuring a host of suggestions that friends and family can purchase as a wedding gift. Registry items include hotel stays, spa treatments and romantic excursions on the island. Married and engaged couples can create their own registry and dedicated wedding website for free and a toll-free customer service number is also available to help. With no waiting period or residency requirements, Antigua & Barbuda ranks among the world’s top 10 destinations for weddings and honeymoons. Click HERE for details.


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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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