15 APR 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:


Schedule changes for Sunwing departures up to and including May 17 have now been made to reflect the unknown timeline for the return of the airline’s grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8s. Further changes beyond the 17th will be “minimal,” Sunwing adds, noting that the aircraft comprises less that 10% of its fleet.

Non-stop seasonal service to Las Vegas will soon be available to Kelowna-area residents courtesy of Swoop. Twice-weekly flights will connect the BC burg to Sin City from June 27 and Oct. 26.

As part of a reputedly first-of-its-kind pilot program, Toronto Pearson, Uber Eats and HMSHost have partnered to bring Uber Eats to all Toronto Pearson departures area. Using the Uber Eats iOS iPhone or Android app, passengers can choose to have food from HMSHost restaurants delivered right to their gate. Are Uber flights next, we wonder?


Travellers booking a vacation to AMResorts’ new Mexican resort, Now Natura Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, by April 30 can do so at pre-opening rates starting at $113 p.p. and also receive up to $200 in resort coupons per room. The 556-room resort, located a short drive from the airport, will open in December.

Goway clients can save up to $3,835 on the tour op’s unique eight-day Kenya fly-in safari through a Buy One Get Half Off incentive. The offer is valid through May 31 on the Kenya Sky Safari tour, which includes flights between parks, luxurious lodge (with butler service) or tented accommodation, activities, and game viewing in such destinations as the Masai Mara, Meru National Park, and Amboseli National Park.

Clients with kids 12 and under (two max) will receive free air for the little gaffers when booking a cruise vacation this summer through TravelBrands. The offer is valid through April 20 and some fine print applies. Meanwhile, through the end of the month (for travel May 1-June 30), clients renting a car in Europe with TravelBrands will receive a free upgrade, free GPS rental, and 5% off.


In conjunction with new Air Canada flights between Toronto and Quito, Ecuador, Dec. 8-May 11, 2020), Air Canada Vacations notes that it offers several South America cruise options, including sailings in the Galapagos Islands aboard Celebrity Cruises. Galapagos and Quito cruise packages include luxury hotel accommodation, multiple fully escorted exclusive excursions in every location, entrance and tourist card fees, Celebrity Concierge Service tour escort, all gratuities and more.

Guests on One Ocean Expeditions’ (OOE) “Labrador and Torngat Mountains Explorer” expedition July 20-30 will have an opportunity to travel alongside Wade Davis, a renowned social anthropologist, best-selling author, filmmaker, lecturer, National Geographic Explorer and Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS). The exclusive RCGS Compass Rose speciality departure features dedicated Society programming on board while providing a deeper look at Canada’s complex history, including visits to small Inuit communities and the National Historic Site of L’Anse aux Meadows.

Discover L.A. Exclusives, a uniquely curated collection of experiences that offer behind-the-scenes access, special pricing and customized excursions, is now being offered by Los Angeles tourism. Sixteen initial tours are available on the WEBSITE and represent “only in L.A.” experiences from the city’s four brand pillars: arts and culture; culinary delights; outdoors and wellness excursions; and glamourous Hollywood. Sample itineraries include a bike-food tour, beer hop, automotive and kids museums, shopping trip, surf school, and more.


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Located in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale, The Dalmar is the latest entry in the south Florida city’s hotel scene. A member of Marriott International’s Tribute Portfolio, the 25-storey high Dalmar (photo) features 209 stylish guest rooms, including 33 suites, sixth-floor 30-metre saline infinity pool and five food and beverage concepts including the city's first skyline rooftop bar, Sparrow. The property is conveniently centred between the area’s three international airports and complimentary shuttles to and from the beach and city centre are available along with bikes to rent. Rates begin at US$200/night.

Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York has unveiled a “reimagined” version of its Fairmont Gold “hotel within a hotel” offering on its 12th to 18th floors. Along with an intimate private lounge, the collection features 106 new elegantly appointed and expanded studio and one-bedroom suites, all with great views of the city.

The Holiday Inn Express brand has officially rolled out its new Express Start Breakfast in Canada. Available at 100-plus hotels across the country, the complimentary signature breakfast bar now features more than 30 items, including hot items and healthy alternatives like turkey sausage and hard-boiled eggs.


Beijing’s new Mandarin Oriental Wangfujing boasts some of the largest rooms and suites in the Chinese city, including expansive spa-like bathrooms. Connected to the WF Central retail complex, the hotel has 73 rooms and suites that boast superb views of the Forbidden City. The hotel is also home to stylish restaurants and bars, a rooftop garden terrace, spa and indoor lap pool and gym.


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Saint Lucia’s Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa reports that kitesurfing season is in full flight (photo). Located on one of the island’s top windsurfing beaches, Anse de Sable, the all-inclusive resort has re-introduced its Surf and Stay kitesurfing package, offering beginner lessons to guests (with certification card upon completion) broken down into three, three-hour sessions with all gear included. Surf Shack instructors also offer “Refresh & Ride” lessons for intermediate kitesurfers as well as Fun & Fly advanced lessons. The Surf and Stay kitesurfing package leads in at $2,399 per room based on double occupancy for a five-night stay through June 30.

A new look will greet guests at Club Med’s village in Guadaloupe this summer after the completion of renovations. Club Med Caravelle, located on the south coast of Grande Terre, will present a new West Indian flair, along with new childcare facilities, including a Baby Club (4-23 months) and a new water playground, Creole-style restaurant and new spa. Located on a stunning beach, the resort will also offer activities such as kitesurfing, windsurfing and diving.

The Grand Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real is Meliá Hotels’ seventh establishment in the Dominican Republic. The all-inclusive hotel has 432 rooms and 108 suites, seven pools, eight restaurants and six bars, spa, water park, club for kids and teenagers, and fitness studio. The hotel is also the seventh in Melia’s Grand Reserve ultra luxe collection.


Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller EAT PRAY LOVE – and godmother of Avalon Waterways’ newest European ship, the Envision –christened the vessel in Hungary last week. The 130-m., 166-passenger ship immediately set sail on a program of 10- and 12-day Danube itineraries.

Royal Caribbean International took delivery of the 26th ship in its fleet, Spectrum of the Seas, in a ceremony held in Bremerhaven, Germany, last week. The first in the Quantum Ultra class of ships, Spectrum will homeport from Shanghai starting June.

Princess Cruises is set to expand its La Mer restaurant concept to a new ship. The French bistro by 3-Michelin star chef Emmanuel Renaut will debut on the new Sky Princess when it sets sail in October, marking the first time in the cruise line’s history that it will offer a French restaurant to North American guests. The restaurant debuted in 2017 on the Majestic Princess in China.


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NBA Experience, the brand-new destination coming to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, will officially open on Aug. 12. Developed in collaboration with the NBA, the one-of-a-kind environment (rendering above) will feature 13 interactive elements and hands-on activities across 41,000 sq. m. and two floors, all designed to give guests the chance to feel like a basketball superstar.

Universal Orlando Resort’s newest theme restaurant, Bigfire, will debut this summer. Designed to make guests feel as though they have stepped into a grand lakeside lodge, the full-service venue will feature décor and food that fits the setting, the latter including cherry and pecanwood grilling and, of course, s’mores.


In partnership with WestJet, Royal Scenic is currently running a marketing campaign to build awareness of WestJet’s new 787 Dreamliner products. Agents booking WS tickets though Royal Scenic through May 31 for travel until Oct. 31 can earn double RSR Points on all destinations or triple points on flights from Calgary to London, Paris or Dublin.

Until the end of April, Air Canada Vacations continues to promote Europe by offering travel agents 5X ACV&ME Bonus points when booking clients on any Europe package. Travel must be competed by Dec. 21.

Travel advisors booking four or more clients with Insight Vacations to Spain, Portugal, Morocco or the Eastern Mediterranean (Egypt, Jordan, Israel & Turkey) in April or May will receive a Swarovski bracelet. The “Summer for Adventure” incentive also provides a $50 optional experience voucher to clients. Departures must be taken by the end of the year and agents must be a member of Insight Vacations Canada Travel Advisor Facebook page to qualify.


The Jamaica Tourist Board has introduced its new regional director for Canada: Angella Bennett. Based at the JTB’s office in Toronto, the 20-year hospitality veteran most recently served as director of sales at RIU Hotels & Resorts, Jamaica, having overseen sales and revenue management activities for 2,500 rooms across five resorts.

Monique Lalonde is the new director of Agent@Home for Transat Distribution Canada. She can be reached via email at Monique.Lalonde@transat.com.

WestJet has named Charles (Chuck) Crowder as VP, Sales and Distribution effective April 29. He joins WestJet most recently from Avis Budget Group where he served as Vice-President, Global Accounts and Cross Border Sales and has held various sales leadership and general management positions with United Airlines and Continental Airlines during his career.


Marriott International, Inc. has opened its 7,000th property – The St. Regis Hong Kong.


A new walk of fame in Dubai is destined to become one of the city’s most visited attractions, believe Emirate officials. The first phase of Dubai Stars will be unveiled in October, saluting personalities who have positively influenced the world through music, film, art, architecture, sports, and literature. The project is kicking off with a global social campaign asking people to nominate the first 400 stars. The walk, which will eventually have 10,000 stars – four times the number in Hollywood – will be set in downtown on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard.

Big Blues Bender has announced that it will move to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas for its 6th annual festival, to be held Sept 5-8. After selling out the past several years, moving to a larger location will allow the annual hotel takeover event to accommodate more guests and feature larger acts. This year’s event will include Robert Cray, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, Tab Benoit, and Ruthie Foster, with more names to be announced later.

1930s-era supper clubs are making a comeback in Utah. Diners take part in an intellectually stimulating, cozy dining experience with friends both old and new, often at a location they’ve never been to before, such as a historical home, art studio, someone’s backyard, the middle of a forest, or the top of a mountain. From Savor the Summit in June to the Bear Claw Supper Club atop Sundance Resort in July and August, and year-round dining experiences in Salt Lake City and Powder Mountain, Utah has a plethora of pop-up dining experiences. Get the details HERE.


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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