Thursday, April 20, 2017
Thursday, April 20, 2017
April is always one of the busiest months of the year for us as members book upcoming summer and winter travel. We try to get back to all requests as quick as possible but we appreciate your patience. We’ve also been traveling quite a bit to see firsthand the destinations, resorts, and tour operators we like to recommend. Lisa just returned from Queensland and Melbourne, Australia, which she reports on in our main feature in the April newsletter. On our last trip to Australia, we were stuck inside a small hotel in Cairns for 3 days as a cyclone barreled down the coastline. So, of course, the worst cyclone to hit Australia in 6 years happened in Queensland while Lisa was there again. Fortunately, the eye of the storm was an 8-hour drive to the south so it didn’t alter her itinerary. We also leave today for a weeklong trip to another popular destination, Greece, with a highly reputable tour operator from New York, Heritage Tours. We’ll describe our findings in the May newsletter.
In our Travel Tip column this month, we want to remind members to please think of us for all your travels, including cruises and guided trips with the likes of Backroads, Abercrombie & Kent, and Lindblad. We’re a full-service Virtuoso-aligned travel agency that can often get amenities like shore excursions and spa treatments thrown in at no additional cost. Also in this issue, we list our favorite properties in Maui, discuss deals in St. Barts in the shoulder season, and talk about the art scene in Houston for our Quick Escape column.
Be on the lookout for a hotel giveaway in next month’s issue. May marks the 5th anniversary of ActiveTravels so we thought a free hotel giveaway was a good way to start the celebration. Thanks to all of you for helping to make ActiveTravels a success!
See you again on May 1st when we return from our trip to Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Happy Travels!
Steve and Lisa
Friday, March 31, 2017
The favorable exchange rate for the American dollar not only extends to Europe. If you haven’t looked lately, $1 US will now fetch $1.33 in Canada. I haven’t seen an exchange rate like that since I was at an Expos game. If the exorbitant flights to Europe limit your options to the continent, especially if you want to travel as a family, head north. I’m already planning to go to New Brunswick in mid-June for more adventures on the Bay and Fundy and possibly a trip to Churchill, Manitoba in winter to spot polar bears.
I’m also heading to the Canada Media Marketplace next week in New York, something I’ve done every other year for at least the past 15 years. I’ll be with old friends in the travel world hearing new and noteworthy story angles about the country as they celebrate their 150th anniversary of the Confederation in 2017. I’ve had the good fortune to travel extensively around Canada, biking around the wine country at Niagara-on-the-Lake, sea kayaking inn-to-inn around Prince Edward Island, hiking with moose in Cape Breton and atop fjords in the striking Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, savoring the charming town of St. Andrews in New Brunswick and the farming community of Salt Spring Island in BC, going on such memorable adventures as whitewater rafting down the Klinaklini River in BC, a multi-sport vacation with the family in the Canadian Rockies, or canoeing through Ontario’s remote Wabakimi Wilderness, and loving my time in the cities while vintage shopping in Toronto and eating my way though Vancouver. If you need me to point you in the right direction, I’m happy to help!
I’ll be back on Monday, April 10th, with my 5 favorite travel ideas in Canada from the conference. Have a great week and stay active!
Monday, March 13, 2017
One of the true signs of any successful business venture are loyal customers. If our members return to us again and again to design their travels, then we know we’re doing something right. Amy Perry Basseches was already one of our closest friends in Boston when we started work on her travels 5 years ago. We have since planned trips for her family in one form or another (mother/daughter, father/son, father/daughter, mother/son, husband/wife, entire family) to Scandinavia, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Croatia, France, Estonia, the UK, Costa Rica, Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, California, even a college trip that passed through my hometown of Schenectady, New York on the way to Rochester (though I couldn’t recommend my favorite local burger joint, Jumpin Jack’s, because her daughter is a vegetarian). Each time she returns home with another travel request and we value her repeat business.
Her passion for travel and gregarious personality are ideally suited for the travel industry so it’s no surprise that we’ve been trying to woo her to ActiveTravels for several years now. Our persuasive tactics have finally paid off. Amy is officially part of the ActiveTravels team, assisting us with marketing, travel planning (especially to her beloved Azores), and creating content for our newsletters and blogs. We’re overjoyed to welcome Amy to ActiveTravels and know that the honesty we value in our friendship and the love we share for authentic travel can only enhance the ActiveTravels brand.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017
We love it when members post photos from their recent trips on the ActiveTravels Facebook page. Even better when it’s an award-winning video. We sent Sara Jones and her family of five on a Backroads trip to Glacier National Park last August. Upon her return she created a video of the many memories from the adventures shared in that exquisite part of the country. She then submitted the video to Backroads for their annual photo and video contest and learned recently that she won Second Prize! That’s a $4,000 credit towards her next trip with Backroads. Congratulations Sara!
Friday, February 17, 2017
Looking out my 3rd-floor office window, it’s a winter wonderland from another fresh coating of snow, the 4th snowfall in the past two weeks. We haven’t seen this much snow in two years. So take advantage of this latest deluge to get outdoors and invigorated this weekend. Mass Audubon is hosting numerous events across the state this weekend and next week for February school vacation, including guided snowshoe treks at Broadmoor, Pleasant Valley, North Hill Marsh, and Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuaries. Ski New Hampshire is reporting 2 to 4 feet of snow across ski areas this past week. Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine are experiencing record February snowfall, over 5 feet since the beginning of the month. Trapp Family Lodge, the premier cross-county skiing (and now craft beer drinking) venue in Stowe is offering a 20% off sale through today. Liftopia is offering discounts across the country this week, including 25% off lift tickets at Stowe and 25% off a 2-day ticket at Snowbird in Utah. So get out there and start making snow angels.
I’ll be back next week with my favorite family adventures over February break.
Friday, February 10, 2017
We just booked a cruise for a couple headed to Antarctica in January of 2018. That comes on the heels of a safari booking for Botswana in September 2018. You might think that these folks are crazy to book so far in advance. In fact, they’re smart since they want to knock off destinations on their wish list and know that there’s only a limited supply of cruises headed to Antarctica, a small number of safari lodges in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. There’s been such a surge of traffic to well-known destinations of late that Barcelona and Rome are both considering limits this year to the amount of people entering the city each day. And I can’t tell you how many people we could not help last summer when they came calling to find lodging in Iceland at the last minute. The country was essentially sold out. Give us enough advance notice and we can make your dreams a reality, with far better flights and lodging options.
Having missed connections in Miami, Heathrow, LAX and a slew of other cities, I’m always excited to see new direct flights like the Emirates flight from Newark to Athens that started this month. Delta is now flying direct from Boston to Montego Bay starting on February 25th. Direct flights have opened both coasts of Mexico to a number of new beachfront locales. That’s our main feature in the February newsletter. We also pick our favorite hotels in another popular locale, Lisbon, take a quick escape to Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona, and describe how Flightfox can work magic with your airline miles. Have a look!
Thursday, January 19, 2017
After 700 years of Swedish rule, the area known as Finland served as a battlefield for Russian-Swedish conflicts until it fell into Russian hands in 1809. As an autonomous grand duchy of the Russian Empire, it was allowed to develop politically, eventually leading to independence during the turmoil surrounding the Russian Revolution in 1917. To celebrate its centennial, Finland kicked off a year of festivities this past week with fireworks over Helsinki. Throughout 2017 there will be hundreds of events in this Nordic nation of 5.5 million, from dance parties to joint performances by the Sibelius Academy and Juilliard, to activities linked to Finland’s renowned sauna tradition. The government has earmarked 19 million euros for the celebrations, including the debut of a new national park, the nation’s 40th, highlighting the Finns’ love of nature.
Monday, January 09, 2017
The January newsletter of ActiveTravels is always a fun issue to research, scouring the top travel trade and consumer publications for the most exciting news on resort openings and events. We go through at least 20 different publications and more than 1,000 press releases to find our Top 10 New Hotel Picks, 2017 Happenings Not to Miss, and What’s New in Cruising. We hope you enjoy our selections as much as we do.
We’re off to Arizona today for a much-needed vacation with our son, Jake, back on January 18th. Wishing You a Happy, Healthy, and Active 2017.
Friday, December 23, 2016
To all our loyal members, we drink a toast to you this New Year! What a privilege to be trusted and allowed into your lives to help make memories for you and your loved ones. We do not take this lightly and we are so very thankful that you have signed up as ActiveTravels members. This month we are so excited as our valued clients travel to all these diverse locales: South Africa, Hawaii, Dominican Republic, Italy, Florida, California, Switzerland, Belize and France. More clients' travels for the coming year include Cuba, Iceland, Tanzania, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Israel, Spain and much, much more. Our December newsletter awaits. We are reporting this month about the beauty and ease of sailing vacations, locales to witness the Northern Lights (2017 is reportedly the best year in a decade), the Royal Portfolio's exclusive South African circuit, and where to go if you need to recharge your body and mind during the coming year.
Lisa and I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year! See you in 2017!
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
On the last day of our recent safari in Botswana and Zambia, we visited the community of Nakatindi, not far from where we stayed in Livingstone, Zambia. We would learn that the villagers here once had to walk through a national park to get their water from the Zambezi River and were frequently attacked by wildlife. Thankfully a water pump was donated to the community and people can now get fresh water piped to their village directly. This was the impetus behind this year’s charity donation.
If you purchase a membership to ActiveTravels, whether for yourself or someone else, we will donate half of the proceeds to Ryan’s Well Foundation. This charity brings clean water and supports sustainable water and sanitation projects to 16 countries around the globe. It was started by a first grader in 1997, named Ryan, who learned that people across the globe were getting sick or dying because they didn't have access to clean water. He and his parents decided to change that as best they could.
As an added gift to the buyer of the membership, we will be sending a children's book called The Water Princess written by Susan Verde and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Dedham’s own Peter Reynolds, that tells the real-life story of an African girl’s quest for clean drinking water.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and keep active!