03 SEP 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

Victoria BC residents will have more options to explore the sunny south, including Huatulco and Los Cabos, this winter with the addition of new Sunwing weekly flights to Mazatlan and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. Various booking incentives are available and agents can earn 4X STAR points for all vacation package bookings made by Sept. 6. Meanwhile, the airline reports that it will returning to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for a 12th consecutive season and will feature weekly flights to Varadero for the first time, operating weekly between Dec. 12 and April 9, 2020. Sunwing will also be returning to North Bay, Ont., with a new flight service to Cayo Santa Maria with vacationers able to take advantage of weekly departures direct from North Bay Jack Garland Airport between Dec.  17 and April 7.

MileagePlus award miles from United Airlines will now never expire, reports the airline, giving members a lifetime to use miles on flights, experiences, hotels and more.

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Air Canada reports the first two new routes to be operated with its Airbus A220-300 will be Montreal-Seattle and Toronto-San Jose, Ca., both beginning May 4, 2020. As well, the carrier has provided a first look at the interior features of its newest aircraft, which will offer customers a choice of business and economy Class service, its newest in-flight entertainment system, onboard Wi-Fi and more (photo). "This aircraft is a game changer for Air Canada as there is simply no rival in this category. The A220 will further strengthen our position on transborder and transcontinental markets and be instrumental in our continued growth,” says airline VP of Network Planning, Mark Galardo.

DEALS

Milder temperatures, fewer crowds and better deals is the idea behind Escapes by Globus, a compilation of the tour operator’s best-loved itineraries in Europe presented during the low season (November- March). By going in the off-season, travellers will also save an average of 40% off peak prices. “It’s such a great idea: you get the same scenery and the same sights for much less,” says Stéphanie Bishop of the Globus’ Canada office. Escapes itineraries are available for less than $130 per day (airfare not included).

Savings of up to 25% on Costa Cruises itineraries in the Caribbean and western Mediterranean are available through Sept. 20 courtesy of the cruise Line’s Labour Day sale, with rates starting from $449 p.p. for a seven-day cruise or $500 for 10 days.

As part of its ‘Dream Deals’ promotion, KLM is offering reduced fares in economy class starting at $830 (including tax) for an array of destinations out of Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver and from $675 departing Toronto. Meanwhile, Air France’s ‘Oh LaLa’ fares lead in at $800 from Vancouver and $690 from Toronto. All deals run until Sept. 11 for travel Oct. 16-Dec. 10 and Jan. 10-May 6, 2020.

TOURS

Featuring 13 trips across eight countries across three continents and highlighted by a new guided trip to “emerging” Colombia, Trafalgar’s 2020 Latin America program covers South and Central America, Mexico and Antarctica. Highlights of the 13-day “Colombia Rediscovered” itinerary include a visit to Tayrona National Park for an interactive encounter with the family that runs one of largest producers of organic crops in South America as well meeting leading anthropologist, Dr. Santiago Giraldo for a rare cultural encounter with members of one of the local Indigenous mountain tribes.

Collette is reaching for the sky with it’s new “Shrines of France” tour, which promises to enable guests to “fully immerse themselves in faith, seeing some of the country’s most revered shrines…and carry this spiritual journey with them forever!” Guests will visit Sacre-Couer in Paris; the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres, home to the reputed veil of the Virgin Mary; attend mass at La Salette, a stone masterpiece perched upon a mountain; and participate in two Marian Processions at the Sanctuary of Lourdes. The tour compliments Collette’s “Shrines of Italy” tour and will launch in September, 2020.

A new-for-2020 Tauck itinerary, "A Grand Rail Adventure: Vienna, The Alps & Milan" will showcase the spectacular landscapes, rich culture, and historic cities and towns of Central Europe's Alps via luxury train. The eight-day, four-country itinerary will be highlighted by a three-night rail journey aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express train, bookended by a pair of two-night hotel stays in Vienna and Milan. (Select departures will operate in the reverse direction, from Milan to Vienna.) All six departures will operate next September and be exclusive to the company (with no non-Tauck guests travelling aboard the Danube Express). Pricing is from $15,290 p.p. double, plus airfare.

HOTELS

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The iconic lobby of The Breakers Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla., (photo) is more enchanting than ever after the recent makeover. With its historic elements and timeless aesthetic preserved, the spectacular space has been infused with a contemporary appeal. Its centrepiece is a custom-designed, hand-tufted carpet created by 35 weavers that blooms with a floral motif of 75 colours.

A new Grand Hyatt at San Francisco airport is now accepting reservations for Oct. 1. The US$237-million hotel Grand Hyatt at SFO, will feature 351 soundproof guest rooms, including 22 suites, extensive meeting space, a 70-seat three-meal restaurant, two bars, 24-hour in-room dining, a grab-and-go market, gym, yoga room and massage treatment room. Located at the entrance to SFO, the hotel site is close to terminal buildings and parking garages and enjoys direct access to the AirTrain light rail system.

Open:

Best Western’s upper midscale boutique hotel brand, GLō is now operating in Brooklyn, New York. Located in Sunset Park close to Manhattan, the 81-room GLō Brooklyn offers state-of-the-art technology, including digital concierge, along with spacious common areas for guests to unwind, a large meeting area to gather or network, contemporary workspaces and fitness centre. The hotel has unique and modern guestrooms with in-room workstations, gel-topped signature mattresses and space-saving bathrooms featuring stylish amenities.

RESORTS

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Two brand-new 4.5-star hotels on Cayo Cruz, an island off Cuba’s northern coast less than an hour from Cayo Coco airport, have been added to Transat’s roster. The Valentin Cayo Cruz is an adults-only establishment that features 546 deluxe rooms and facilities in a cleanly designed layout, in a captivating setting with five restaurants and three pools. And the Hotel Marina & Spa Cayo Cruz is a boutique hotel featuring modern décor, 60 spacious rooms and a choice location near the marina. Cayo Cruz will be accessible with Air Transat this winter via direct flight to Cayo Coco from Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Halifax. 



CRUISES

Four new longer European sailings have been unveiled by Celebrity Cruises for its newest ship, Celebrity Apex in 2020.  They include three 10- and 11-night Eastern Mediterranean sailings and a new 11-night Western Mediterranean sailing.

Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours has released video footage of its new ultra-luxury Scenic Eclipse Discovery Yacht. The video provides the first preview inside the vessel. Check it out HERE.

With the launch of its first luxury expedition ship less than one year away, Crystal Expedition Cruises has released a new comprehensive planning guide for Crystal Endeavor’s 2020-21 seasons. Comprising day-by-day itinerary info and abundant ship information, and destination photography and highlights, the guide offers agents and travellers not only practical details for planning vacations to some of the world’s most remote locales, but also insights into the kinds of experiences and sights in store.

THEME PARKS

Disney World’s latest and greatest, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, officially opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando last week. At 5.6 hectares, the attraction is deemed the largest and most technologically advanced single-themed land expansion ever at a Disney park. Inside, guests are “transported” to the remote planet Batuu to “become part of the [Star Wars] story.” A second anchor attraction, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will debut Dec. 5 in Florida and Jan. 17 at Disneyland, where Galaxy’s Edge opened on May 31.

FAMS & INCENTIVES

The Dominican Republic is Sunwing’s destination of the month for September with agents earning 3X STAR Agent Reward Points for new package bookings for travel Nov. 1-April 30, 2020.

To celebrate the completion of phase one of its new cruise booking engine upgrade, Air Canada Vacations is offering a 5% bonus commission (cruise portion only) on any cruise-only or cruise package booking made using the new platform. Bookings are valid through Sept. 18 for travel between by Dec. 31, 2020.

Bookings for an 11-night excursion aboard the Norwegian Jade made through TravelBrands by Sept. 30 will earn agents 5x Loyalty Rewards as well as give a $250 air credit to clients. Sailing Feb. 4-18, the cruise will call in several Asian countries including Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia. Land-cruise prices start at $3,599 and include transfers, excursions and accommodations in Singapore, a free shore excursion in Bangkok, plus transfers, excursions and accommodations in Hong Kong.

PEOPLE/APPOINTMENTS

The agency sales team at WestJet has added Kevin Pohlmann to support the territory of British Columbia, sharing responsibility with Emily Spadafora. He brings over 20 years of industry experience to the airline.

Jane Gill PR has been named Tourism New Zealand’s Canadian public relations partner. In addition to spearheading its international media program in this market, the agency will be creating content and seeking on-brand partnerships. Canadians have direct access to the South Pacific country via Air New Zealand and with Air Canada, starting in December. (janegillpr.com

NEWS

VisitBritain has created a new travel agent guide for selling Great Britain, featuring ‘Only in Britain' experiences, inspirational itineraries and helpful transportation information. Check it out HERE.

BY THE NUMBERS

Six continents, 51 countries, 111 ports and 245 days, all aboard the 930-guest Viking Sun. Those are the numbers behind cruise line Viking’s attempt to enter the Guinness World Book of Records for the "longest continuous passenger cruise." The London-London round-trip set sail last Friday.

DESTINATIONS

NYC Broadway Week, a biannual program now in its ninth year, is underway, offering theatre lovers and newcomers 2-for-1 tickets to 24 Broadway shows in the Big Apple through Sept. 16. Twelve shows are new to the program this year. Tickets can be purchased HERE

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority now offers a new nocturnal show dubbed ‘From Dusk to Dawn’ at the Masada National Park, its flagship site. The investment in the multi-sensorial spectacle is estimated at nearly $3.8 million. Ranked as Israel’s most popular national park with one million visitors a year, the Masada National Park has created a first-of-its-kind evening spectacle, which is screened for the audience on the western slope of Mount Masada by means of innovative, multimedia technologies.

The annual Traditional Tattoo Festival, set this year for Oct. 25-28 at the Kohala Institute on the Big Island of Hawaii, celebrates the ritualistic and ceremonial practice of traditional tattooing practiced by Hawaiian, Inuit, Filipino and other cultures. A cultural festival within the main tattoo festival on Oct. 26 is free and open to the public, and features live music, food, dance, kapa (bark cloth) making, wood carving, and lau hala (pandanus leaf) weaving, and demonstrations of traditional tattooing.




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Michael Baginski

Editor, 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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