04 DEC 2017: US Consul General Juan Alsace and Markly Wilson, the Director of International Marketing for New York State Division of Tourism, recently hosted a New York State networking session for tour operators, agents and local media at the Albany Club.  

A select group of state tourism partners showcased some of the new developments.

Here’s a snapshot:

Buffalo

You might know about Buffalo Wings, the Buffalo Sabres, and cross-border shopping but do you know the city is in the midst of a major revitalization?

Over the last few years over 25 hotels have opened including new restaurants, new attractions, and a new canal side area for boat cruises and kayaks.

One example is a historic grain mill silo complex that has been repurposed into a one-stop shop packed with sporting events, music festivals, and an on-site brewery with four bars at the facility. Other experiences available at the Riverworks are zip-lining and climbing the side of a 123-foot silo.

“The site is constantly evolving, it’s like a house,” says Sean Green with Buffalo Riverworks, describing the profusion of attractions at the massive complex since opening 3.5 years ago.

Explore Buffalo, the largest guided tour operation in Buffalo, has niche tours of all types. Staffed by 200 passionate volunteers who tell Buffalo stories, clients can enjoy walking tours, biking tours, kayak tours and bus tours.

For Buffalo Wings don’t forget Anchor Bar where it all began.

Finger Lakes

This region known for its wineries and finger-thin lakes, is expanding its tourism product net to lure wellness travellers and lovers of craft breweries.

Watch for a new craft beverage trail from Rochester to Finger Lakes. “We’re becoming this mecca for beverages,” says Valerie Knoblauch, president and CEO of Visit Finger Lakes, on the newest product to hit the leafy-fringed lake trails. Known as the Finger Lakes Craft Beer Trail, 17 breweries have partnered to showcase their local suds.

This new brewery trail joins the existing 41 mile Canandaigua wine trail.

On the wellness front, the Mountain Horse Farm in Naples NY has introduced teepee glamping during spring-fall to its picture-pretty surrounds. Located in the heart of Finger Lakes, the 33-acred farm has a quaint carriage house and a Bed and Breakfast for overnights if not inclined to ‘roughing it’ outside.

Peace and tranquility also await. The owners have introduced a new horse wellness retreat in which experts use rescue horses in their therapy programme. “You can’t ride them,” says Valerie, “They (the horses) found there forever homes there.”

Another new wellness retreat involves tree hugging. It’s a hug the tree programme using old Japanese therapy techniques. For more details contact Finger Lakes Forest Therapy

“They take you into a forest (unnamed woods) and you become one with nature,” she adds.

Fall foliage season might be over too but the region is busy prepping for winter season with ski resorts and white powder terrain in places like Bristol Mountain.

Rochester

Considered the Front Door to the Finger Lakes, this mid-sized waterfront city is rising. The southern shoreline of Lake Ontario is in the midst of a major $900-million downtown redevelopment.

Consequently, there’s been an uptick in the arts and dining scene as Rachel Laber, director of communications and public relations with Visit Rochester describes how many New Yorkers are opening various establishments and turning their talents to this side of the state.

“Your dollar goes further when you do,” she says on the affordable options Canadian travellers experience from restaurants and shops to soft adventure and wellness activities. “Rochester is such an affordable city on its own.”

For hotel updates, the Hyatt Regency Rochester has completed a multimillion dollar transformation, and on the restaurant scene expect to be wined and dined in this hub where the craft cocktail scene and front table dining scene have virtually united.

Good Luck restaurant was named one of the best bars in America in 2016 by Esquire. Revelry, owned by a South Carolina restaurateur is big on southern hospitality and cooking with its good spirits and honest food mantra. Another favourite dining spot is the Cub Room, which features American dining and is owned by two former NYC restaurateurs, one of them who worked alongside Chef Mario Batali.

Dubbed the “Flower City” due to its profusion of lilacs, (there is an annual 10-day Rochester Lilac Festival in May), Rochester can also be revered as “Festival City.”

“We have more than 150 festivals annually,” smiles Rachel who lists some of the crowd-pleasers from the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival which ironically was founded by a Canadian who fell in love with the city; and the Fringe Festival, the fun busker fest of thespians and experimental fringe plays. Rochester, surprisingly, claims to have the third largest fringe festival in America.

The town that glass built

Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes, the company town is the home of Corning Glass.

It’s also one of the stops for the upcoming GlassBarge, a Corning Glass making studio barge that will be floating to various upstate New York cities via the Erie Canal next summer. The concept is to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the glass manufacturer which settled in Corning after it left Brooklyn New York.

“We are taking this glass making studio from the Hudson River up in Brooklyn to Albany, Rochester and Buffalo,” says Ryan Doolittle, tourism sales specialist with Corning Museum of Glass of the summer event showcasing the glass at 30 stops.

In addition, the Corning Museum of Glass, considered the most important collection of glass in the world with glassmaking dating back 3,500 years, has glass blowing experiences, lectures and countless displays including a rare collection of Dale Chihuly glass art pieces. “He’s the tip of the glass iceberg,” says Ryan about the most well-known glass artist in the world.

1000 Islands

Think you’ve seen 1000 Islands, think again. There are actually 1864 islands in the archipelago, and as Corey Fram, marketing manager with 1000 Islands International Tourism Council describes it, “You can’t just be any willy-nilly rock in the river you have to be above water year round and you have to have at least one tree.”

Case in point: the Boldt Castle. The six-story structure was sold for a dollar nearly 40 years ago to the Thousands Islands Bridge Authority which has invested about $38US-million over the years in restoration, allowing visitors a fabulous look back at the Gilded Age.

George Boldt was the millionaire proprietor of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City who wanted this Rhineland castle in Alexandria Bay.

Several boat companies sail to the castle located, yes, on Heart Island. A nice one to try, Corey mentions is located at Alexandria Bay, New York. Shuttles occur every 30-minutes.

A true international destination, experience both sides of the border.

For more travel information on New York State see https://www.iloveny.com/

 

 

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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