22 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

For the first time since 2012, Sunwing will offer direct flights from Montreal to Havana this winter. Service will go Mondays and Fridays Dec. 13-March 13, 2020. Sunwing offers a range of accommodation options in and around the Cuban capital. Also, Sunwing will introduce direct service from Waterloo to Cancun starting Dec. 18, operating until April 8, while Punta Cana flights will return again from the Ontario city Dec. 16-April 13.

Air Canada has announced two new winter services from Quebec City to Cancun, Mexico and Punta Cana, DR. Service to Cancun will operate Dec. 21-April 11, 2020, while Punta Cana flights start Dec. 22, through to April 12.

The acquisition of Hong Kong Express Airways (HK Express) by Cathay Pacific has been completed. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of CX, HK Express will continue to operate as a standalone airline.

Channel Islands carrier Blue Islands has launched its third new service for 2019, which sees three flights per week connecting Guernsey and Jersey to England’s Cornwall Airport Newquay this summer. The service will see flights operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays until Aug. 31. Blue Islands is a Flybe franchise partner and flights can be booked through flybe.com.


DEALS

Vacationers can save on their next getaway at AMResorts brands Zoetry, Breathless, Dreams, Now, Reflect, and Sunscape with the Hot, Hot, Hot promotion, which offers 50% off plus up to $200 in resort coupons for reservations made by Aug. 21 for travel through Dec. 22.

Up to $1,000 in onboard credit per stateroom plus $50 onboard credit for a 3rd and 4th guests booked in the same stateroom are highlights of Princess Cruises’ new Landmark Sale. In effect through Sept. 3, the sale applies to select cruises and cruise-tours sailing from March 2020 to May 2021.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s new 'WhatCoolLooksLike' summer promotion allows travellers to the Caribbean islands to benefit from savings on some of the destination’s top accommodations, excursions, restaurants and attractions when they visit this summer. The campaign is in effect until Oct. 31. Details can be found on the Visit A&B website.

TOURS

LWTM-Natural Habitat Adventures - Australia
Kakadu’s Ubirr Rock. Photo/ Shaana McNaught

Two new 12-day itineraries mark Natural Habitat Adventures’ arrival into Australia. Designed for passionate nature travellers seeking a less conventional approach, both 12-person departures explore beyond the continent’s lauded landmarks, venturing into more remote wild regions. Included is the north’s ancient rain forests, far-flung Kakadu, the rugged coast of the Tasman Sea and even under water. Australia’s “Wild North: Kakadu, Daintree & the Great Barrier Reef” and “Tasmania, Kangaroo Island & Australia’s Southern Coast” tours will run May-October, 2020, and October, 2020 to March, 2021, respectively, with rates starting at US$11,565 p.p., double, excluding international air. See the company web site for a full itinerary.

More than 50 luxury guided journeys to Europe, Africa, North & South America, Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand will comprise Luxury Gold’s 2020 worldwide collection, which offers a blend of guided and independent exploration in a small group setting. Three new itineraries include: “Elegance of the Pharaohs,” “Art, Culture & Cuisine of Colombia” and “Vibrant Eastern Canada & the USA.” The TravCorp division will also feature a new five-day ME to WE culturally immersive journey extension in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

A new brochure from Solo travel specialist Just You has been released with 41 new tours spanning six continents and including New Zealand, Jordan and Croatia, as well as three European river cruises. “As we follow the trends of solo travel in Canada, our Italian tours have been the most popular thus far,” notes Nick Roberti, Canadian national sales manager for Just You, adding that he expects the destination to remain popular in 2020. Sample tours in the brochure include the 10-day “Colours of Nepal” from $3,449, and 15-day “Breathtaking New Zealand,” from $8,749. Group sizes range from 20 to 40 passengers and more than 500 dates are guaranteed.

HOTELS

Ground has been broken in Las Vegas, for the city’s first Delta Hotels by Marriott. Located at 3883 West Flamingo Rd. in the Strip West area, about a 10-minute drive to Las Vegas Blvd., the high-end, 24-floor hotel is projected to open fourth quarter of 2021.

The Fairmont brand continues its growth in North America with the addition of Fairmont Costa Canuva, a new development featuring 250 hotel rooms and private residences along the pristine Riviera Nayarit in Mexico, slated to open in 2022.

Now Open:

Following the debut of its new flagship café at Piccadilly Circus in London, Hard Rock has introduced a new hotel as well, it’s first in the UK. Hard Rock Hotel London is located on the corner of Oxford Street at Marble Arch and features 900 stylish rooms and suites, along with a Rock Royalty Lounge, GMT Bar, a Hard Rock Café, a cocktail bar and Rock Shop.

RESORTS

Sandals and Beaches have hand-selected three of their picturesque Over-The-Water Gazebos to become a part of their collection of signature wedding venues. The venues at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, Beaches Ocho Rios, and Sandals Royal Caribbean, are available to reserve at US$450 for a ceremony and/or reception.

The Lodge at Blue Sky, near Park City, Utah is now open. Part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, the authentic Western ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range is an all-season luxury resort with 46 rooms and suites set on 1,400 private hectares with activities such as horseback riding on private trails and fly fishing on private waters, as well as a sport shooting clay course. In winter, guests can cross-country ski on groomed trails and take in backcountry, cat and heli-skiing directly on the estate. Guests headed to Park City Mountain Resort will have use of the exclusive Blue Sky Ski Lounge located at the base of the mountain.

CRUISE

The newly designed Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will feature prominently in the MSC Armonia’s winter season out of Miami, reports the cruise line. The first visitors to the private island will come a week after it opens in November and guests will be allowed to stay for 14 hours to discover the new exclusive natural Bahamian destination, where cruise passengers will be able to snorkel, scuba, paddle and kayak, take a spa treatment, or just lie on one of the eight white-san beaches.

Two new itineraries have been unveiled by Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours for its newest ship, the ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse. “Taste of the Caribbean” is a 13-day exploration departing Oct. 8 from Nassau with a unique focus on some less visited ports in the Caribbean, while the 11-day “Colombia & Panama” itinerary (departing Miami on Oct. 20) combines some of the region’s major ports with off-the-beaten-path opportunities. The Eclipse launches on Aug. 15, sailing the eastern seaboard of North America.

Carnival Cruise Line has become the first large-scale cruise operator to partner with global health leader Clean the World. As part of the program, Carnival will start collecting discarded soap from guest and crew staterooms throughout the fleet and send it to a Clean the World recycling centre where the soap will be sanitized, melted down and reprocessed. Together, Carnival and Clean the World will distribute more than 400,000 new, clean bars of soap to people in need across the globe each year.

THEME PARKS

There’s a new resident at SeaWorld Orlando: a 68-kg. baby female Pacific Walrus, daughter to mom Kaboodle and dad Garfield. The yet-to-be named calf is 16-year-old Kaboodle’s second.

EVENTS

LWTM-disney lion king

During a week in which a cinematic version of The Lion King hit the big screen, Disney on Broadway and Disney Destinations Canada issued a reminder that the Disney classic remains a stage staple as well, treating select members of the trade to a performance of the show at the Prince of Wales Theatre in Toronto on July 16. A reception preceding the event included an update on Disney’s theatrical doings in New York and London (including Frozen and Aladdin) as well as insider info from cast members (photo, l-r) Lawrence Keith Alexander and Ben Lipitz (r), the latter sharing tales of having played the part of Pumbaa over 5,000 times. The Lion King is now in its 21st year.

FAMS/INCENTIVES

Through July 28, agents can earn 4x Air Canada Vacations ACV&Me points by booking any AMResorts packages or group travelling until Oct. 31. Participating resorts include Zoetry, Secrets, Breathless, Dreams, Now and Sunscape.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The Travel Corporation reports the passing of former Trafalgar president (1997-2002) Karin Heuser on July 11 following a long battle with cancer. A “widely respected, highly dedicated and determined individual,” Karin had spent 36 years working at TTC before retiring in 2010.


NEWS

On July 16 TravelBrands donated 1% of all sales made to the SickKids Foundation. “Our goal was to bring the travel community together to raise awareness and funds for a great cause and I believe it was surpassed,” says company CEO Frank DeMarinis. TravelBrands hosts multiple events year-round to raise awareness and funds for SickKids, including an annual fall golf tournament. Agents can continue donating their Loyalty Rewards points to the SickKids Foundation at TravelBrands Access and any donation made by Aug. 31 will be matched by the company.

BY THE NUMBERS

This summer is expected to be the busiest ever at Toronto Pearson with the airport expecting 10.7 million passengers between Canada Day and Labour Day, which would be an 11% increase from just three years ago. There are also 50,000 staff and partners who work at the facility. As such, airport execs are urging users to make their journey easier by planning ahead, checking its web site for info and tips, and downloading the Canadian Airport Security app, which amongst other things, lists security wait times.

DESTINATIONS

LWTM-nevis - mango fest

Nevis is celebrating the success of the sixth annual Nevis Mango & Food Festival, which took place July 4-7. The four-day event featured local and celebrity chefs (photo), participation of four local restaurants, and the first-ever Caribbean Mango Cooking Competition. Said organizers: “With tripled attendance the Nevis Mango & Food Festival is quickly cementing its position as the leading mango and culinary event in the Caribbean.” Fun fact: 44 varieties of mangoes can be found in Nevis, almost all of them “prized for their texture and flavour.” The 2020 festival will take place July 2-5. (Ed note: How could we not report this?)

The late great Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas is set to re-open on Oct. 11, after having closed in 2017. Reservations are now open for the 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed championship course – located behind the Wynn Las Vegas hotel it is the only links connected to the Strip – which will feature new topography, significant elevation changes, and both water and mature trees, creating a veritable oasis in the desert city. Golfers with a room reservation at Wynn or Encore can secure a reservation 90 days in advance, non-resort guests 30 days ahead.

The National Trust for Scotland has re-opened Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House in Glasgow to the public after it was closed to save the house from water damage. Considered to be the finest example of domestic architecture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the house is now encased in a chainmail structure with walkways over the chimney pots and upper levels, providing a unique way to experience the house’s unique “Glasgow-style” design and offering stunning views across the Clyde estuary.



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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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