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May Birthdays 
for our 
ActiveTravels members!
Sophie Basseches
Robert Galen
Robert Gemorah
Allyson Jaffe
Andrew Jaffe
Kristian Lundberg
Lori Reich
Do you want expert travel advice and inspiration from an experienced and prolific travel writer?

Would you like your very own travel agent who knows you and your travel profile and can make certain that your vacation time with family and friends is well-spent?

 Vacations are precious investments of time with your loved ones.  

Trust ActiveTravels to provide:

exceptional suggestions on all kinds of destinations

personally-tested travel itineraries customized just for you 

an experienced travel agent who can oversee every detail

someone to be 
there for you 
before and during your trip to ensure all goes smoothly

 to find out more!

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Editor's Letter,
May 2016

In 1990, I left my job as 
an insurance broker in
Manhattan, booked an open-ended
ticket to the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia, and wrote my first travel story, "Dining with the Descendants of Cannibals on a Fijian
Island" for the Miami Herald. It would prove to be start of a career where I would write more than 1500 stories (over 300 articles for the Boston Globe alone) and visit over 90 countries. Then the recession hit. I lost more than half my editors in 2008-2009 as magazines folded and newspapers either eliminated or greatly reduced their travel sections. Wanting to utilize my travel expertise, I convinced Lisa to join me in a business venture and become an accredited travel agent.
Close family and friends scoffed at the idea, as if I just announced that I was becoming a blacksmith. After all, wasn't it President Obama who suggested in a town hall meeting that travel agents were becoming obsolete? How could they possibly prosper against big-pocket online travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, and Orbitz? There was just no need for them anymore, or was there? Since we opened ActiveTravels 4 years ago this month, without benefit of advertising dollars or a marketing department, there has been a steady stream of traffic. In fact, we just hired another assistant, Jainy, this past week, so you might be hearing from her.
As travelers tire of the poor customer service from OTAs and are overwhelmed by the glut of travel content on the web, it's great to know that they still trust first-hand expertise. Yet, it's simply unrealistic for any travel agency to be experts on all countries. So we rely on contacts we've made around the globe these past 4 years. These include a travel firm in New Delhi that provides guides to the Taj Mahal and Jaipur, a New Zealander who designs detailed self-guided driving itineraries to his favorite sites and B&Bs in the country, a naturalist in Sumatra that will help locate the native orangutans, an art expert in Rome who will take you behind the scenes to talk about the Vatican. Whenever one of our clients returns with a rave travel recommendation for a lodging, local outfitter, or restaurant, we add them to a growing list.
We're truly excited about the future as we tinker with new apps being developed so you can read our customized Dream Day Itineraries on your smartphones rather than thick paper bundles. Virtual reality is also coming to the forefront so when we get together for coffee and discuss safari options in Tanzania, we'll soon be showing you those exact locales in 3D.
To celebrate our 4th anniversary and to sincerely thank you for all your support, we're giving away a 2- night stay at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Simply answer the raffle question at the end of this newsletter and we'll happily place you in the drawing. In this issue, we also cover Alaskan cruises, divulge our favorite resorts in the Turks & Caicos, offer you a handy pre-trip departure guide, and introduce you to an excellent outfitter who will enhance your trip to New York City. 

Happy travels!

Lisa & Steve
News from the Road: 
Alaska Cruising

Immense glaciers fade into a distant mist, towering snow-capped mountains peer down from the sky, and the wildlife is legendary.  On a trip to Alaska this summer, expect to see whales breaching, bald eagles hunting, bears foraging, and salmon spawning.  The best way to view this spectacular setting is on a luxury vessel in the protected Inside Passage, one of the world's premier cruising grounds. Nearly half the state's 1.8 million visitors last year came via cruise ship. Cruise lines expect another banner summer in Alaska. These are our favorite cruise lines to get you upfront and personal with the wildlife:

The small-ship line, Un-Cruise Adventures, aims to set itself apart from big-ship cruises by offering all the adventure you can handle and a pampering base from which to tackle it. Aboard the 84-passenger Safari Endeavor, which sails from Juneau, expect to cruise remote stretches of Alaska's Inside Passage, sea kayak in sheltered coves, hike to see grizzlies, and return back to the ship to freshly caught Alaskan seafood at night. On all the ships, entertainment is mostly in the form of informal lectures and pleasant conversation. A big advantage of this line is you can choose itineraries that avoid the populated ports.

Operating a fleet of stylish and extremely comfortable midsize vessels, Regent Seven Seas Cruises provides a casually elegant, upscale cruise experience to Alaska. Its service is as good as it gets, and its cuisine is near the top. And, having spent over $100 million on refurbishments in the last few years, the line has kept its ships up-to-date. What we love about it is that all shore excursions, alcohol, WiFi, and often flights to and from the port are included in the price. So the price might seem hefty at first until you take into account all the extras. Those shore excursions include a cruise into glacier-dotted Resurrection Bay, teeming with wildlife like whales, sea lions, and thousands of birds; or taking a helicopter to the top of Juneau's Mendenhall Glacier.

Six Princess Cruises' ships sail Alaska's storied waters, offering multiple itinerary options. Princess' most popular Gulf of Alaska sailings, "Voyage of the Glaciers," sails between Vancouver and Whittier and features two glacier-viewing experiences on every voyage. This includes stops at the UNESCO-listed Glacier Bay National Park plus either Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord. The classic "Inside Passage" cruise is offered on weeklong and 10-day round-trip voyages with the option to visit Glacier Bay on select sailings from Seattle, Vancouver, and San Francisco. Princess also offers guests more than 20 Land and Sea Vacations in 2016, most featuring multiple nights at Princess-owned Wilderness Lodges at Denali National Park. The cruise line is known for its great entertainment at night and affordable berths with balconies.

Disney Wonder returns to Alaska this summer, departing from Vancouver with stops at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. The family offerings are what set this ship apart from the pack. While many cruise lines offer excellent children's programs, Disney is designed to make the kids happy, from kite-making workshops to game shows and evening stage revues. The vast majority of fellow passengers on the 1753-passenger Wonder are families and multigenerational reunions due to the extensive children, teen and family programming. The highlight of the trip is the Tracy Arm Fjord, one of the most beautiful natural glaciers still standing in this southernmost part of Alaska. The Wonder gently sails through Tracy Arm at a quiet crawl, so as not to disturb the forest wildlife. Lush green mountains and waterfalls created by melting snowcaps can be viewed along the way.

Hotels We Love:
Turks & Caicos

Just as spring is slowly creeping in, it's hard to think about another winter here in the Northeast. Nevertheless, we all know it's inevitable and if you want to insure you can get away somewhere warm this coming winter, it's time to book now. Turks & Caicos is a fantastic getaway for those of you who want exquisite white-sand beaches, gloriously blue waters and opportunities to snorkel, scuba and enjoy world-class fishing. Providenciales (known as Provo) is the most popular island in the Turks and Caicos, yet no cruise ships dock here, so you can enjoy the slow-paced island feel without the commercialism. Check out these excellent lodging choices:

This property is well known for being one of the first to come to this glorious white sand beach that goes on for miles. At the beginning, Grace Bay Club only had 21 rooms, and now they have added 22 new villas for families or couples who want more space. This resort caters well to both families and couples: their kids program rivals those at Beaches yet they also have adults-only self-contained hideaway units and an adults-only pool so couples can enjoy some quieter moments. The restaurants are beautifully designed to maximize their views of the sea. Anacaona serves Euro-Caribbean food on four seating levels so many of the guests can have magnificent views of sand and ocean. The resort also features all the requisite water sports, a great spa, tennis and access to golf.

Gansevoort, better known for their New York City hotels, has now expanded to include this Caribbean resort in their repertoire. With 91 rooms, you can consider this a boutique property with all the panache of its urban counterparts, yet they are spacious at 500-650 square feet and within steps of that beautiful beach. Features include an infinity pool, complimentary water sports like kayaking, sailing and paddle-boarding, daily yoga and exercise classes, a spa and snorkeling off the beach. Check out their French-Mediterranean gourmet restaurant and grab a slice at their outdoor pizza oven for lunch.

A mostly suite property, this resort offers great value and a great location as well. It is on the same beautiful beach and the property boasts a large free form pool, a lazy river pool with small waterfalls and a fleet of bicycles to use to ride to restaurants and shops nearby. A nice perk is their weekly general manager's happy hour with complimentary drinks at sunset. The price point is much more affordable and the rooms are spacious and clean.

This is a condominium hotel and it stands seven stories tall, taller than any other properties on the island, and right smack in the middle of Grace Bay beach and within walking distance of many restaurants and stores. On property, you'll find the traditional features of large pool, tennis courts, spa, water sports including Hobie cats and windsurfing, a private dive concierge who can arrange dive trips and teach your kids how to dive and a beachfront lawn for early morning yoga classes. A nice plus is the range of room configurations from junior suites to one to four bedroom studios and suites ranging from 700 to 6,000 square feet.

If you want the ultimate in Zen-like luxury, go here! Located at the far west end of the island in a nature preserve on Malcolm Beach, the only way to get here is to travel over a bumpy dirt road intentionally unpaved to preserve the resort's seclusion. With it's Balinese design, pristine reefs off its shore, exotic gardens and infinity pools, this is my version of paradise. Accommodations are in bungalows overlooking the rocky shoreline or ponds on property and consider one of their 2 -5 bedroom villas if coming with a family group. 

Amanyara Special Offer: Stay for 5 nights in a Pavillion with travel dates from June 1st to October 31st and receive:
  • an organic pedicure for two with sunset poolside cocktails and canapes
  • 5th night free
  • roundtrip airport transfers
  • daily breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • non-motorized watersports, yoga, snorkeling trips, afternoon tea, and wifi

This is the biggest resort on the island and it features one of the largest water parks in all the Caribbean. It's almost like a cruise ship on land offering something for absolutely everyone from water sports, dining, fitness to evening entertainment. Sandals has perfected the couples and honeymoon resorts and this is their expansion into the family market. And, they do an excellent job here as well. It's an all-inclusive resort, making dining easy: offering a sushi bar, Tex-Mex, French cafe and Italian buffet plus 6 bars scattered throughout the resort. In addition to their phenomenal Pirate's Island waterpark, they feature 5 pools and a National Geographic scuba program to teach kids 10 and older (over a 5-day span) about scuba diving and marine ecology. You can keep busy with water sports, tennis, yoga and pilates, a fitness room and the spa during the day. One of the islands only all-inclusive resorts, the other being Club Med.

Call ActiveTravels if you're interested in traveling to Turks & Caicos sometime soon!

Tour Operators We Recommend: 
Discover New York and Beyond
New York City skyline
Don't despair! Maybe you can't get your hands on that ticket to see Hamilton on Broadway without paying an arm and a leg. If you're looking for ideas of something equally as amazing and different to do next time you visit the Big Apple, contact us! We are very fond of Discover New York as they can get their hands on hard to find tickets and they can arrange for memorable experiences in New York.

Here are some examples of what Discover New York can do:
  • VIP private shopping excursions in boutiques and/or fun affordable designer showcases not open to the public
  • Scavenger hunts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other major museums
  • Access to the best tickets on Broadway, sporting events and concerts. Enhance your experience by going backstage with a cast member or attending a rehearsal
  • Neighborhood food walking tours and hands-on cooking classes
  • Sail, kayak, powerboat or canoe under the Williamsburg, Brooklyn or Manhattan bridges.
  • Trace your family's history with a visit to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
  • Bike the five boroughs with an experienced guide
  • Thanksgiving Day Parade Viewing Party
  • Grandparent/grandchild trips are one of their specialties
If New York is calling your name, contact ActiveTravels!
Tried & True Travel Tips:
Our Handy Guide to your Pre-Trip Departure

Living with a travel writer has its pros and its cons. 

Cons can be obvious: intense jealousy when he is off to go on his next safari or bike tour or overseas adventure, needing to stay quiet and not bother him when he's writing (never easy for me), and managing the kids, house and business when he's away. 

Pros, there are lots of those: when the kids and I can join him on his trips, reading his first drafts about his travels and offering him my insights, and always depending on his incredible knowledge of destinations for our clients. 

I discovered another plus not too long ago when I went on my own trip to the Bahamas with a friend and colleague. He's got a foolproof pre-trip departure strategy! Most of us infrequent travelers freak out just a bit when we are faced with all the details before we leave the safe confines of our daily lives. However, Steve knows that if you are prepared, this will lessen your pre-trip jitters.

Here's his trusty list of what to do before your travels:
  • Packing List: have one readily available as a document in your computer. One for beach trips, one for skiing outings, camping, etc.
  • Flights: check that there are no schedule changes and you have seats at least one week before travel. Does the airline have your mobile number to contact you regarding delays? You may want to have your boarding passes ready before you arrive at the airport (printed or on your phone). Most airlines have apps that are useful to download in advance. Need snacks?
  • Money: Tell your bank if you are traveling internationally so they know not to hold payments due to unfamiliar charges. Bring enough small bills for tips and taxi fare upon your arrival. Go to the bank and get foreign currency in advance. CurrencyPanda is a great app that brings foreign currency to your door.
  • Electronics: If you're going abroad, figure out whether you'll need a converter for your laptops, phones, iPads and hair dryers. WikiTravel is a great resource for all kinds of details about your destination.
  • Phones: do you have the Wireless Traveler App? Ask us about it! When traveling internationally, it allows you to stay in touch with people at home at a fraction of the price of wireless carriers. Most important, turn your cellular off on your phone and only use wifi to avoid roaming charges. Unless you have T-Mobile.
  • Luggage: Make sure it's tagged and easily identifiable! Recently, we took someone else's suitcase home with us by accident! We had to turn around and go back to the airport to switch bags. Not fun! If you're carrying your luggage on, make sure no liquids are over 2 oz.
  • Don't forget: your ID (license for domestic travel and passports for international). Passports MUST be valid for 6 months from your departure date from the country you are visiting. Bring your medications and prescriptions. Stop your mail and newspapers (if you still receive them!) and email your loved ones at home your flight and hotel information, just in case.
  • Your arrival: note the address of where you need to go upon arrival and figure out how best to get there. Make dinner plans in advance for your first evening.
Please let us know if you have your own pre-departure tips and strategies to share. Give us a shout at ActiveTravels!
Quick Escape:
The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado

I was fortunate to the visit the Broadmoor this past September while reporting on the Broadmoor Wilderness Experience, two wilderness lodges the resort recently unveiled in the tall peaks and valleys on the outskirts of Colorado Springs. When I finally made it to The Broadmoor at the end of the trip, I couldn't believe how good this grande dame, first opened in 1918, looked. Since Philip Anschutz purchased The Broadmoor in 2011, the Denver mogul has poured $130 million into the property revamping the Broadmoor West tower and introducing diners to the Adam Tihany-designed Italian venue, Ristorante Del Lago. Anschutz also acquired Seven Falls, a series of waterfalls in a box canyon located a mile down the road from The Broadmoor, and has introduced the first of two zipline courses and a restaurant, 1848, featuring local specialties like cast iron rocky mountain trout. But you'll be hard pressed to leave the property and its infinity swimming pool, three 18-hole golf courses, tennis courts, and expansive spa.
Now it's your chance to experience the allure of The Broadmoor! Answer the following question and we'll enter your name into a raffle for our Spring Fling Giveaway. You'll receive two complimentary nights at The Broadmoor for two people, meals, two spa treatments, one round of golf for two people, zipline, two passes to Seven Falls, and airport transport to the hotel.

Drumroll, please...The question is:

Katherine Lee Bates wrote "America the Beautiful" after being inspired by the view from this Colorado mountain. Simply give us the name of that magnificent mountain and we'll enter you into the drawing.
The lucky winner will be announced one week from today on May 13th. The deadline is May 12th. 

Please email us your answer to our raffle question to:  info@activetravels.com

Good luck to all our members!
2016 Active Travels