Travel Writing

 
Groundbreaking Partnership to Document African American Historic Sites in Chesapeake Bay Watershed
Discover Deep Forest Green that Only Lithuania Has to Offer
State of Guanajuato, Mexico Launches Reactivation Campaign
State of Yucatán: Two Years of Sustained Growth in Tourism
KCK CVB launched ‘KCK Taco Trail’ Oct. 1 highlighting nearly 50 taquerias in Kansas City, Kansas
MMGY Global Launches Grounbreaking Study on the Black Traveler Under a New Partnership With Key Advocacy Groups
National Museum of African American Music Plans Digital & In-Person Experiences For Fall Roll Out
WonderWorks Orlando to Host Sensory Day with Special $10 Admission
American Airlines Named Kenneth Charles Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer
City Is Nation’s First To Be Autism Certified
Las Vegas Has Celebrated Chinese New Year with Special Entertainment, Décor and Culinary Offerings to Ring in the Year of the Rat
Disneyland Resort Welcomed the Year of the Mouse with a Limited-Time Lunar New Year Event, Jan. 17 to Feb. 9, 2020
New Jersey Celebrates Black History Month With Underground Railroad Sites, Exhibits, Art and More
Multicultural Travel News – News From Vagabond Tours of Ireland, IATA, Jamaica, Kentucky, Buenos Aires, Oaxaca and Bahamas
Multicultural Travel News – News From Mexico’s Yucatan State, Natchez, Wild Terrains, Toronto, Puerto Vallarta and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
Multicultural Travel News – News From Disneyland Resort, Los Cabos, Virgin Voyages, Medellin, National Museum of American Jewish History, TAP, El Salvador, and more
Multicultural Travel News – News From American Museum of Natural History, Oklahoma City, Thailand, Greater Fort Lauderdale and Puerto Rico
Multicultural Travel News – News From Charleston, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, South Dakota, Barbados, San Antonio and more
Multicultural Travel News – News From Madeira, Belize, Scotland, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Mexico, AmaWaterways and Anguilla
Multicultural Travel News – News From New York, Ireland, Washington and More
Princess Cruises Announces “Sabor Latino” Theme on Select 7-Day Caribbean Cruises
Dancing Onboard the Hornblower Infinity Starlight Dinner Cruise
Madeira: History and Culture, Nature, The Climate, Wine, Gastronomy
AmaWaterways River Cruises Introduces Sailings with a Latin Touch with Bilingual Cruise Managers, Spanish-speaking Tour Guides
Trip Report: Dublin-Tullamore-Galway #NoRentalCar Sept/October 2017
Multicultural Meetings and Events Will Be Key as Minorities Become the Majority
How Smart Event Organizers Are Using Big Data to Create Better Events
A Multicultural Travel Experience Onboard an AmaWaterways River Cruise
THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING – a Review
Lucky Dragon Enters the Las Vegas Strip
Q&A with Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino’s Blaire Dela Cruz
Vintage Vegas at the Tuscany Suites & Casino, by Lisa Skriloff
Heritage, History and Hispanic explorers in San Diego
Planning Your Perfect French Cultural Vacation in Québec City
Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the New France Festival in Québec City from August 3-7
Two Weeks in Sicily: A How-To Guide for Do-It-Yourselfers for Crowdsourcing the Ideal Itinerary
Sheva Royal Thai Spa Express – at the corner of “Phuket and Lex”
Diversifying The Visitor Base to The Adirondacks: An Interview at The Wild Center with Multicultural Travel News
Cartagena, Colombia
Trip of Love: A 60s Journey Through Song and Dance – Now playing Off Broadway
Solari’s Restaurant- First Tuesdays Big Band Dinner & Dancing
Low Cost Airline Volaris Inaugurates Service from JFK – Continues Focus on the Hispanic Market
A Quick. Quick. Slow. Slow. Long Weekend in Nashville
Discovering New York State’s “Path Through History” Program During Black History Month
Ecuador Tourism Ad Campaign Includes Super Bowl Spot, Hispanic Media, Engagement with Ecuadorian Community
Multicultural Oakland, California
Multicultural Dining and Entertainment Options With Carnival Miracle’s Launch of Year-Round Service from New York
Ain’t that a Kick in the Head: Vintage Vegas is Back with a “Vengeance”
Feature Article: Turning Stone Resort and Casino: A Multicultural Destination
Multicultural Jamaica
Feature Article: Multicultural Jamaica in 2012: An Interview with John Lynch, Director of Tourism for Jamaican Tourist Board
Feature Article: Visit and Learn: The Booker T. Washington National Monument Hardy, VA
Feature Article: Multicultural Travel News, March 2011 – Learning Spanish in Guatemala
The Mohonk Mountain House Ballroom Dance Weekend December 2010
Feature Article: Mount Airy Casino Resort Begins Outreach to Asian Americans
Feature Article: Multicultural Arizona
Feature Article: Promoting Puerto Rico As a Meetings and Conventions Destination – Newly Renovated Convention Center is Focus of Campaign
Feature Article: Rediscovering Croatia (Heritage Travel)
Feature Article: The National Black Tourism Network: Little Known Missouri

Groundbreaking Partnership to Document African American Historic Sites in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

nthpWith a common goal of telling a fuller American story, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service Chesapeake Bay; the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia; and the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership will collaborate to map and identify sites and landscapes in the Chesapeake Bay watershed region significant to African American history and culture. The project will map African American cultural sites in an effort to support their conservation and to enable the three states and their localities to fully consider them in their land use and development plans. This multi-state partnership will undertake unique pilot projects in each of the three states to identify sites and landscapes of relevance to African American history and culture. The project will also be guided by an advisory committee of professionals dedicated to preserving African American history. Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust, says, “Mapping African American historic places within the Chesapeake watershed is a critical first step in making sure that these places are protected and that their stories are told. As home to some of America’s first colonies, the Chesapeake Bay watershed region is already known to have a significant meaning to African American culture. Many major tobacco plantations were located there, as were many stops on the Underground Railroad. It was the place where Harriet Tubman and both Frederick Douglass and his first wife were enslaved. It includes many battlegrounds of the Civil War, as well as places of notable activism in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Generations of Black Americans have made their living from the waters of the Bay and have also used special places along the Bay and throughout the region for recreation. Historic sites and landscapes important to people of color are widely underrepresented in documentation and conservation priorities. This work will take one small step towards addressing that deficit. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. SavingPlaces.org | @savingplaces


Discover Deep Forest Green that Only Lithuania Has to Offer

LithuaniaEarlier this year, Lithuania Travel presented a new Lithuanian image campaign entitled “Discover Colours You Never Knew Existed.” The campaign invites you to learn about the uniqueness and versatility of Lithuania, the country of untouched natural treasures, distinctive architectural objects, and quirky local gastronomy—a perfect place for all your senses. Baltic Blue and Rye Bread Black? Lithuania is indeed full of quirky shades. What do these colours mean? Kaunas Modernism Grey is the colour of rich history. Hours spent walking around architectural marvels is what makes you touch history, and lets history touch you. Rye Bread Black is the colour of feeling at home. The smell of a freshly baked loaf presented to you by your host. Vištytis: Right by the southwestern country border lies the beautiful Lake Vištytis and a town carrying the same name. The legend says that almost a hundred years ago a local man from Vištytis town harnessed the wind to produce flour. This year, the millhouse has come back to life for a different purpose—to educate the ones interested in the old crafts and to feed the hungry souls with mesmerizing views. Museum of Ancient Beekeeping: Soulful and rewarding friendship between bees and humans is what beekeeping is all about. Learn about this occupation dating hundreds of years back and treat yourself with a unique therapeutic experience. The Museum of Ancient Beekeeping offers aromatherapy in a new and original way: a cozy attic, the scent of bee products, the sound of bees humming. For more information, visit www.lithuania.travel/en.


State of Guanajuato, Mexico Launches Reactivation Campaign

GuanajuatoThe state of Guanajuato, located in the center of Mexico, in the region known as El Bajío, and home to the colonial jewels of San Miguel de Allende and the state’s capital, Guanajuato City, has started its tourism reactivation with the launch of its new brand with the slogan “Guanajuato, live great stories.” “We are inviting our visitors and tourists to be the protagonists of their own history, taking as a setting the tourist wealth of our state, as well as our World Heritage Cities, Magical Towns, archaeological zones — every corner of Guanajuato,” said Governor Diego Sinhue Rodríguez Vallejo. “Today, from the heart of our capital city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, we announce to Mexico and the world that Guanajuato is the ideal place to live great stories.” Guanajuato has a rich history dating back to pre-Hispanic times, when nomadic indigenous populations made areas of the state their home, leaving behind unique archeological sites. The state is also the cradle of the Mexican independence movement and houses some of the most well-maintained colonial and baroque aquiculture of the Spanish conquest in the country.


State of Yucatán: Two Years of Sustained Growth in Tourism

MexicoIncreases in air connectivity and visitor arrivals, support for tourism infrastructure and product development, the creation of health and safety protocols, and several accolades and recognitions — all are the direct result of the first two years of Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal and his administration, working with the Ministry of Tourism of Yucatán to develop, strengthen and promote the state’s tourism industry, using a sustainable approach. “Facing the global challenges in the tourism activity, the State of Yucatán has not stopped for a single moment,” said Michelle Fridman Hirsch, head of the Ministry of Tourism of Yucatán. “Efforts have even been redoubled to move after the effects of the pandemic, towards a gradual and safe reactivation to contribute, in the first instance, to the economic recovery of the Yucatecan population and the state.” One of the main goals of the Ministry of Tourism of Yucatán ongoing efforts is innovation with a sustainable vision. More than 60 new tourism products have been developed and integrated in the state’s six tourism regions, covering market segments such as nature, culture, gastronomy, beach, adventure and “urban premium,” among others. With this effort, it was possible to highlight — and bring tourism products to — places like Tekax, which saw a new tourism surge, increasing its visitor numbers by 300%. Today, the historical city — briefly the state capital, in 1845 — has new investments and more qualified personnel.


KCK CVB launched ‘KCK Taco Trail’ Oct. 1 highlighting nearly 50 taquerias in Kansas City, Kansas

KCK_TacoTrail_Logo_PRINT_Primary_ColorThe Kansas City Kansas Convention and Visitors Bureau launched the launch of the ‘KCK Taco Trail‘, a mapped-out trail of nearly 50 local taquerias. Within the last decade, the taco scene has exploded with taquerias all over town, making Kansas City, Kansas the go-to destination for authentic tacos. The KCK Taco Trail gives the community a flavor-filled experience of culture and history through food. Starting Oct. 1, locals and visitors alike can visit www.kcktacotrail.com to sign up for the KCK Taco Trail. The trail not only maps out where to find the most authentic tacos, but also gives diners the chance to win prizes. The KCK Taco Trail is ongoing however, consumers have until Oct. 31, 2021 to complete the trail and win prizes. To view a full list of the nearly 50 restaurants on the KCK Taco Trail, visit www.kcktacotrail.com. For more information, follow the KCK CVB on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VisitKansasCityKS and Instagram at @visitkansascityks.


MMGY Global Launches Grounbreaking Study on the Black Traveler Under a New Partnership With Key Advocacy Groups

MMGY Global announced that it is developing a series of market research studies to be informed by diverse travel advocacy organizations to better identify the needs, behaviors and sentiment of underrepresented travel communities. The first installment of these studies, powered by MMGY Travel Intelligence, is titled The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities and focuses on Black leisure travelers and meetings professionals. The Black Traveler study is set to be published in late October. The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities report will include results from: MMGY Global’s 2019 Shifflet TRAVEL PERFORMANCE/Monito​rT​M profiling Black leisure travelers within the United States, the development of an accurate measure of the economic power of the Black traveler, a new survey analyzing the current opinions and attitudes of Black leisure travelers globally, and a new survey of Black meetings professionals from the members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP). To ensure the two new surveys appropriately document the true sentiment of the Black traveler, survey questions are being developed with oversight and input from a steering committee of diverse industry experts and through partnerships with travel advocacy organizations, including the Black Travel Alliance (BTA), the NCBMP and the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD). MMGY Global and its supporting sponsors, including Choice Hotels International®, Tripadvisor and Virginia Tourism Office, ​have committed that all net proceeds will be donated back to the three partner organizations ​–​ BTA, NABHOOD and NCBMP ​– ​as well as several other not-for-profit groups. For more information, visit https://www.mmgyglobal.com/diversity-in-travel/.


National Museum of African American Music Plans Digital & In-Person Experiences For Fall Roll Out

NMAAM LogoThe National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) announced that it will kick off a year-long celebration filled with a variety of digital experiences and limited in-person events. The public will be able to engage and interact with NMAAM through various digital experiences available via the museum’s website and social media channels. The museum is continuing to share the story of the influence and contributions of African Americans on the American soundtrack. The signature From Nothing to Something educational program is now being offered across NMAAM social media platforms, along with other recurring programming such as Sips and Stanzas, the My Music Matters interview series and the Fine Tuning Masterclasses. NMAAM will also soon offer virtual tours of the museum and digital sneak peaks of selected items in its collection of artifacts. The National Museum of African American Music, set to open in fall 2020, will be the only museum dedicated solely to preserving African American music traditions and celebrating the central role African Americans have played in shaping American music. Based in Nashville, Tenn., the museum will share the story of the American soundtrack by integrating history and interactive technology to honor Black musical heroes of the past and the present. For more information, please visit www.blackmusicmuseum.org.


WonderWorks Orlando to Host Sensory Day with Special $10 Admission

sensory nights peytonWonderWorks Orlando will be hosting another Sensory Day event on Monday, July 13, 2020. The event will give guests with special needs a chance to explore the indoor attraction in a more comfortable setting. The exhibits and attractions throughout the building will be altered to give guests a more comfortable and sensory-friendly environment to limit stimulation. “In these uncertain times, we feel it is still important to provide a limited stimulation environment for children and adults with special needs,” says Brian Wayne, general manager of WonderWorks Orlando. “We want them to be able to visit and enjoy our attractions here without feeling overwhelmed.” WonderWorks hosts several Sensory Days throughout the year. They are typically held on Sundays, but this July event will be on a Monday. This gives homeschool students and those on summer break a chance to visit. In an effort to create a sensory-friendly environment on Sensory Day, WonderWorks Orlando will:  Alter exhibit lights and sounds to limit stimulation, Lower the music in the facility, Turn off loud exhibits so they are not operational, Shut off the Inversion Tunnel guests typically enter through, Create an overall safe and comfortable environment to avoid feeling overwhelmed. “This is going to be a great sensory-friendly event for all,” added Wayne. “WonderWorks is proud to be able to offer these Sensory Days for our community.” According to research published in the journal Occuptional Therapy International, up to nearly 17% of the general population experiences sensory processing challenges. A sensory-friendly experience at WonderWorks gives people an opportunity to have fun, without being overwhelmed. WonderWorks, the upside-down adventure, is a science-focused indoor amusement park for the mind that holds something unique and interesting for visitors of all ages. Guests enter through an upside-down lobby with the ceiling at their feet and the ground above their head and must pass through an inversion tunnel to be turned right side up. There are three floors of nonstop “edu-tainment,” with over 100 hands-on and interactive exhibits that serve an educational purpose to challenge the mind and spark the imagination. WonderWorks has locations in Orlando, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach, Panama City Beach, and Syracuse. For more information, visit the site https://www.wonderworksonline.com/orlando/.

Thursday, Jul 07, 2020


American Airlines Named Kenneth Charles Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer

American Airlines announced that Kenneth Charles has been named the airline’s Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer. In this new role, Charles will lead American’s global inclusion and diversity strategies. This includes establishing the company’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to ensure best practices are implemented across all aspects of American’s people and business processes. “Ken brings a wealth of experience to the team and is a proven leader in creating global inclusion strategies,” said American’s Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “We are on a journey to enhance our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion across American, and Ken will help chart our course to ensure American is an industry leader. Our decision to become more intentional in this area is vital to our global business. Ken will provide a needed and important voice in all of our critical decision-making.” American has taken a number of steps to strengthen its inclusion and diversity practices. These include implementing both computer-based and in-person implicit bias training for all 130,000 team members and creating a specialized team to listen to, resolve and learn from customer feedback. “We have progressed our company’s focus on inclusion and diversity, and we recognize we can and will do even more,” added Parker. “We are committed to building on our diverse and inclusive culture to not only make American a welcoming airline for all customers, but also a great place to work for every team member.”

Thursday, Feb 02, 2020


City Is Nation’s First To Be Autism Certified

Mesa is officially the first Autism Certified City in the country with close to 4,000 stakeholders in health care, education, hospitality and government trained to better serve people with the sensory disorder. The city was recently certified by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards and is now able to tap into a new source of visitor dollars to the region. More than 32 million individuals with autism and their families travel each year, according to IBCCES data, while close to $262 billion is spent on autism-related services in the U.S. each year. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been spearheading autism training for licensed health care professionals and educators around the globe. In order for an entire city to become certified, it must first certify at least 60 businesses, as well as schools and other city departments. For a company or organization to become certified, 80 percent or more of its guest-facing staff must undergo position-specific training. The nearly year-long effort behind the autism certification was launched by the city’s destination marketing organization Visit Mesa, which encouraged businesses to participate in the training in order to meet the needs of travelers with autism. Visit Mesa championed the idea of servicing those living with autism as well as their families from the very beginning stages of planning a vacation, to when they arrive and throughout their stay. Almost 60 businesses and organizations in Mesa and the surrounding area completed autism certification training — including Jake’s Unlimited, AZ Goat Yoga, i.d.e.a. Museum, Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa Arts Center, Main Street Bar and Grill and Escape Rooms Mesa.

Thursday, Feb 02, 2020


Las Vegas Has Celebrated Chinese New Year with Special Entertainment, Décor and Culinary Offerings to Ring in the Year of the Rat

Las Vegas has commemorated the Chinese New Year with an array of decadent culinary offerings, breathtaking décor and lively entertainment for visitors throughout January and February. Remembering the significance of the sacred Spring Festival, Las Vegas will extend good fortune and prosperity to all who revel in the destination’s cultural festivities. The annual celebratory dragon display returned for another year at The Forum Shops inside Caesars Palace. The 22-foot-long dragon is not only a great photo opportunity for visitors, but is also a traditional symbol of power, strength and good luck. The decorative display is dressed in 30,000 red and amber LED lights, flickering to give the mythical creature a vibrant look and dynamic feel. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens celebrates the Year of the Rat with a captivating Lunar New Year display open from Saturday, January 11 through Saturday, March 7. Designed to bring prosperity and good fortune to the 20,000 visitors who visit daily, the gardens radiate hues of gold and red with picture-perfect botanical creations made from flowers, seeds, silks and plants. To commemorate the Year of the Rat, The Venetian and The Palazzo’s horticulture team consulted a feng shui master to transform the waterfall atrium with an installation of a colossal 2,000-pound golden rodent sculpture, on display beginning Wednesday, January 15. The featured sculpture stands 18 feet tall and will be surrounded by green gardens brightly blooming with red and orange bromeliads, red calandiva, golden yellow chrysanthemums and red and yellow orchids, shipped from around the country, including citrus and lucky bamboo from Florida. Additionally, nine smaller versions of the rat will be placed throughout the waterfall atrium and the resorts’ lobbies. MGM Grand transformed into a Lunar New Year spectacle with vibrant displays of eye-catching floral décor and playful panda bears surrounding the resort’s iconic lion. The displays will abound with over 4,000 live plants. On display at Wynn Las Vegas starting Wednesday, January 15, are two eight-foot golden dragons that will spread good luck to visitors outside, while inside the resort the Wynn main atrium features spectacular 45-foot long silk dragons hanging above 7,000 vibrant orange, yellow and red mums, begonias and calandivas. Additionally, the resort will be dotted with 60 tangerine trees honoring the traditional gifting of this fruit to others as a wish of good fortune. For more information, visit www.lvcva.com or www.visitlasvegas.com.

Thursday, Feb 02, 2020


Disneyland Resort Welcomed the Year of the Mouse with a Limited-Time Lunar New Year Event, Jan. 17 to Feb. 9, 2020

Disneyland Resort celebrated the Year of the Mouse this Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park, Jan. 17 through Feb. 9, 2020. During the 24 days of this multicultural celebration, guests enjoyed exciting live entertainment and musical performances, including “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession” and the return of the heartwarming “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” prior to the “World of Color” nighttime spectacular. This unique Lunar New Year celebration came alive with a touch of Disney magic as transformative Asian celebrations dedicate the new year. Guests experienced inspired food, music and entertainment with loved ones as they celebrate the Year of the Mouse together. Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, celebrates the celestial journey of the sun and the moon on their journey towards another year. For more information, visit Disneyland.com.

Thursday, Feb 02, 2020


New Jersey Celebrates Black History Month With Underground Railroad Sites, Exhibits, Art and More

Visit New Jersey LogoMilestone Anniversaries of 15th and 19th Amendments Make 2020 a Special Year. With numerous, easily accessible historical sites and special exhibits found at cultural institutions throughout the state during Black History Month this February and beyond, New Jersey invites visitors and residents to learn more about the achievements of African Americans and the impact they had in shaping the Garden State’s history. This year’s theme, “African Americans and The Vote,” offers an opportunity to reflect on two key anniversaries and their impact on the lives of black men and women: the 150th anniversary of the 15thAmendment (1870), giving black men the right to vote, and the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment (1920), granting women’s suffrage. Special events and exhibits throughout the state will examine this aspect of American history. “More than a million African Americans call New Jersey home, so Black History is our history,” said Secretary of State Tahesha Way. “This February, join me in exploring the rich and meaningful contributions African Americans have made to our state and our nation. Beyond this Black History Month, I look forward to recognizing these stories throughout the year, and I am particularly excited to welcome Cape May’s new Harriet Tubman Museum in June.” Honoring a key figure in the Underground Railroad during the Civil War, the Harriet Tubman Museum will display artifacts related to the pioneering freedom fighter along with African American art. The museum’s opening coincides with Juneteenth, which celebrates the 1865 executive decree that freed more than 250,000 enslaved African Americans in Texas. More information about the museum can be found here. Visitors and residents don’t have to wait until June to learn more about African American culture in New Jersey, however. The state will celebrate Black History Month though performances, events and cultural happenings, which can be found here. In addition, visitors are encouraged to explore New Jersey’s many notable African American landmarks and important sites, including: Afro-American Historical Society Museum and Shady Rest Country Club, America’s first black-owned and operated country club, opened in 1921 and featured a nine-hole course, tennis, croquet and horseback riding. Prominent figures in the African American community, such as Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Althea Gibson, often frequented the club. Follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube for more events and news throughout the state.

Monday, Feb 02, 2020


  
Multicultural Travel News – News From Vagabond Tours of Ireland, IATA, Jamaica, Kentucky, Buenos Aires, Oaxaca and Bahamas
News Briefs:
  • Vagabond Tours of Ireland Helps Connect Guests To Their Ancestral Links
  • IATA Launches Gender Diversity Campaign
  • Jamaica Re-positioned in the Japanese Travel Market
  • African American’s Role in Horse Racing Honored in New Exhibits and Experiences
  • International Tango Festival and World Cup (Mundial de Tango)
  • Oaxaca Hosts Historic “Vive Mezcal 2019” International Forum
  • The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas Launches Arabic Website
News Briefs
  
Vagabond Tours of Ireland Helps Connect Guests To Their Ancestral Links

Since 2002 Vagabond Adventure Tours has been creating opportunities for visitors to embrace Ireland by walking, biking, horseback riding and kayaking its lands and waters, imbibing history and culture along the way. This award-winning tour company, whose reputation lies in whisking guests into the magic of off-the-beaten-track Ireland, hopes that visitors of Irish descent will make the effort to explore their particular pasts when visiting the Emerald Isle. “Every Vagabond Small-Group Adventure Tour sheds light on who the Irish are today and where we’ve been,” explains Robb Rankin, owner of Vagabond tours. “When it comes to the particulars of family histories and genealogies, while you’re with us in Ireland, you may want to explore your own extended family ancestry — or look for relatives.” Blog posts on the Vagabond website continue this theme: https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/nancy-came-back-irish-roots and https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/the-genealogy-detective. In 2013 the company was honored by National Geographic Traveler with a Top 50 Tour of a Lifetime distinction. In 2015 and 2017 Vagabond Small Group Tours of Ireland was named the “Best Adventure Experience” at the Irish Tourism Awards. In 2017, Vagabond became Ireland’s first tour operator to achieve Ecotourism Gold Level Certification and in 2018, Vagabond Tours won The Green Tourism & Entertainment category in Ireland’s most prestigious Green (business) Awards. In February 2019, the company won two top Irish Tourism Industry Awards for the Best Ireland Ancient East Tourism Experience and Best Environmental Tourism Innovation. For more information visit

https://vagabondtoursofireland.com/ or Follow Vagabond Tours of Ireland on Social Media: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vagabondireland; Instagram
IATA Launches Gender Diversity Campaign
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched the 25by2025 Campaign-an airline industry initiative to advance gender diversity in the airline industry by 2025. The 25by2025 Campaign is a voluntary commitment by participating IATA member airlines. Key among the commitments of airlines participating in the 25by2025 Campaign are: Increasing the number of women in senior positions (to be defined by the member airlines) by either 25% against currently reported metrics or to minimum representation of 25% by 2025; Increasing the number of women in under-represented jobs (e.g. pilots and operations) by either 25% against currently reported metrics or to a minimum representation of 25% by 2025; Reporting annually on key diversity metrics. IATA member airlines who have already signed up to the 25by2025 Campaign include China Eastern, Lufthansa Group and Qatar Airways. There is currently no comprehensive airline industry-wide gender diversity statistical report. But, with women representing around 5% of the global pilot population and 3% of CEOs, the gender imbalance in the industry is clear. In addition to the commitments from member airlines under the 25by2025 Campaign, IATA will also be making the following commitments: Increasing the representation of women in IATA’s senior management (Directors and above) from the current 19% to at least 25% by 2025; Working with member airlines to increase the number of women they appoint to IATA governance roles from the current 17% to a minimum of 25% by 2025; Ensuring that the number of women participating as panelists / speakers at IATA conferences is a minimum of 25% by 2025; Creating a forum for sharing diversity and inclusion initiatives and best practices across the industry and publishing annual industry statistics on gender diversity. At the 2019 World Air Transport Summit the first winners of the IATA Diversity and Inclusion Awards were announced. The 25by2025 Campaign adds to this and other IATA efforts to address gender diversity in the airline industry.
Jamaica Re-positioned in the Japanese Travel Market
At an October meeting in Osaka, during Tourism Expo Japan, Destination Jamaica received resounding support from the Japan Association of Travel agents (JATA) in the quest to increase arrivals from that country. In a meeting with the Jamaican Delegation, Chairman of JATA, Hiromi Tagawa said “JATA is pleased that Jamaica is once again active in the Japanese travel market. We are committed to helping to promote the destination among our members. Arrival numbers to Jamaica will increase.” The Honorable Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, who led the Jamaican delegation at the meeting, spoke to the improvements in the tourism product which would appeal to the Japanese market. “The expansion in Jamaica’s tourism is very attractive to today’s Japanese traveler. For the millennials, we offer adventure and entertainment, while for those travelers looking for an authentic cultural experience, we offer a culinary journey alongside world heritage sites.” Minister Bartlett also discussed the timeliness of Jamaica’s participation in Tourism Expo Japan, coming only three months after the signing of a historic amendment to the open skies agreement between the US and Japan. The agreement allows for American, Delta, United and Hawaiian Airlines to improve and increase travel and trade between both countries thereby paving the way for enhanced connections to Caribbean destinations.
African American’s Role in Horse Racing Honored in New Exhibits and Experiences
Horse racing is one of America’s oldest and most cherished traditions. From the Kentucky Derby, which celebrated its 145th anniversary in 2019 to the annual Keeneland auctions, Kentucky is the epicenter for American horse culture. Beginning in 2019, the Bluegrass State introduced new heritage itineraries and museum exhibits to pay homage to its African American history, including the horsemen who helped shape this culture. Unforgettable Kentucky African American Heritage Experiences include three itineraries covering 27 attractions piece together the untold and unforgettable stories of African American history in Kentucky. The itineraries are divided by geographical region and include Louisville & Surrounding AreasLexington & Surrounding Areas and a Statewide Itinerary. For more information or to view the three routes, visit www.unforgettableky.com. Kentucky Horse Park Exhibit Black Horsemen of the Kentucky Turf follows the racing careers of legendary jockeys, including Oliver Lewis, Isaac Murphy and Jimmy Winkfield, the last African American to win the Kentucky Derby in 1902. The exhibit includes rare works by equine artist Edward Troye, who documented African American horsemen when few would. For more information, visit: www.kyhorsepark.com. Kentucky Derby Museum African American Exhibit – Many believe Isaac Murphy was one of the greatest jockeys of all time. He competed in the Kentucky Derby 11 times and won three of those. The Kentucky Derby Museum’s African American Exhibit follows Murphy’s life and imparts valuable lessons of honor and virtue to the next generation of jockeys, historians and horse lovers. For more information, visit: www.derbymuseum.org. For information about new African American heritage exhibits and experiences available across Kentucky, visit http://www.kentuckytourism.com.
International Tango Festival and World Cup (Mundial de Tango)
From Aug. 8-21, thousands of tango enthusiasts from around the world descended on Buenos Aires for this multi-faceted event. The city was buzzing with dance competitions, street tango, and free events including conferences, lectures and other tango themed activities to celebrate Argentina’s iconic dance. The Mundial de Tango is the most important international tango championship where hundreds of dancers compete for a place in the finals at Luna Park stadium. The Mundial has two categories: traditional tango salon (improvised – dancers do not know what music they will have to dance to), and escenario (choreographed stage tango). Tango aficionados can immerse themselves in the local scene year-round with these authentic tango experiences in Buenos Aires. Below is a sampling of activities: La Boca: The neighborhood famous for its colorful houses, tango and soccer team, is the one spot that makes every visitor’s agenda and Instagram. La Boca was the neighborhood where immigrants first established themselves when arriving in Buenos Aires. Visitors can catch tango street performances in the neighborhood. Carlos Gardel House Museum: Dedicated to Carlos Gardel, located in the legendary tango singer’s former home the museum features a collection of personal items, photographs and examples of his work. The venue also hosts concerts and film screenings. Escuela Mariposita: While the improvised dance is famous for requiring patience and dedication, a class can give insight to how the dance works, while four or five classes are enough to master a basic sequence to brave the dancefloor at a milonga. Located in an old San Telmo mansion, the Escuela Mariposita is a boutique hotel, tango school, and cultural center. It offers group tango classes for all levels, regular tango workshops, intensive tango weeks, private lessons and other classes. El Viejo Almacen: As one of the city’s most traditional tanguerías, many tango greats have graced the stage. Event details can be found here.
Oaxaca Hosts Historic “Vive Mezcal 2019” International Forum
The International Forum “Vive Mezcal 2019”, the most important and ambitious project to boost the production, distribution and sale of this spirit in the world, will take place from September 12 to 14, 2019, at the Cultural and of Convention Center of Oaxaca located in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico. The three-day forum in the capital of the state of Oaxaca will bring together more than 12 thousand people between producers, entrepreneurs, investors, distributors and other attendees who will be able to experience the expo, museography, Master Mezcal Hall, Business Hub, workshops, cultural forum, Invest in Mezcal business meetings, more than 30 artistic and cultural activities,12 Master Conferences, participation of more than 40 exhibitors and 150 producers of Mezcal, among other activities. Mezcal, of which 92 percent of its total production is generated in Oaxaca, in addition to gaining widespread popularity, has positioned itself as an attractive world-class beverage and has boosted export growth to 64 countries that now consume the artisanal spirit, often called liquid gold. Mezcal, which means “cooked maguey” in Nahuatl, a Mexican beverage with centuries of cultural and social evolution, has positioned itself in a brilliant way showing exponential growth over the last six years with the number of exported brands increasing 195 percent and reaching countries including the USA, Spain, Germany, France and England among others. With more than 300 brands and 150 mezcal producers participating, “Vive Mezcal” will be the first International Forum for innovation, business, culture and tradition, surrounding this beverage. Registration for those interested in attending is free at: ViveMezcal2019.com.
The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort, Bahamas Launches Arabic Website
The Ocean Club, A Four Seasons Resort has announced the activation of a website extension in Arabic as it extends its welcome to Arabic-language travelers. The inaugural launch of the translation of the Bahamian resort’s website comes amid an increase in Arabic-speaking family travelers opting for the white sand beach of Paradise Island and the privacy of the Resort’s three opulent villas. The Ocean Club’s landing page, its services and amenities, location and directions, dining, and family-focused sections were part of the translation project, which went live at the end of July 2019. “Marhaba!” welcomes General Manager John Conway. “Our doors and hearts are open, and we look forward to showcasing Four Seasons service and Bahamian hospitality to the ever-affluent and well-journeyed Arabic traveler.” For more information, visit
https://www.fourseasons.com/oceanclub/ or contact Monica Majors, Director of Public Relations,
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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351

Friday, Dec 12, 2019


 
 
  
Multicultural Travel News – News From Mexico’s Yucatan State, Natchez, Wild Terrains, Toronto, Puerto Vallarta and Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line
News Briefs:
  • Mexico’s Yucatan State Poised To Be Mexico’s Next “IT” Destination
  • Natchez, MS LGTBQ Event Celebrates Inclusion This October
  • Wild Terrains Launches New Women-Only Trips to Portugal This Fall
  • Tourism Toronto Has Launched New Destination Campaign: Let Yourself In – Campaign Invites Travelers to Go All-in and Share in Toronto Pride Felt Across the City
  • Puerto Vallarta to Host First National LGBTQ Media Association International Conference
  • Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Debuts New Culinary Offerings for Groups, Launches Six New Chinese, Indian and Vegan Menus
News Briefs
 

Mexico’s Yucatan State Poised To Be Mexico’s Next “IT” Destination
Mexico’s Yucatán state is on the brink of becoming the next “it” travel destination in Mexico. A host of developments already underway, as well as future ones on the horizon, are taking this culturally rich destination on the rise and highlighting the features that make it a perfect microcosm of Mexico. It is important to note that the state of Yucatán is not the same thing as the Yucatán Peninsula. The Yucatán Peninsula is a region of Mexico comprising three states: Quintana Roo, home to popular resort cities such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen; the state of Campeche, known for its colonial cities and rich history; and the state of Yucatán, which sits between the other two. The state of Yucatán has been experiencing positive growth in tourism numbers since October 2018. Air connectivity continues to increase, and currently, there are direct flights from Miami, Houston and Toronto into state capital Mérida. Grupo Xcaret is expected to open a cenote park near the colonial city of Valladolid and Chichén Itzá, one of the state’s most important and beloved Mayan archaeological sites. Speaking of Mayan heritage, the state of Yucatán is shaping a program designed to immerse travelers into this ancient indigenous culture, which still thrives on the peninsula today. Through this one-, two- or three-day immersive experiences, visitors can live beside and learn from the Mayan people in the area. This program is expected to launch in 2020. Capital city Mérida has been selected to be the host the 2020 edition of Tianguis Turístico, Mexico’s largest annual tourism industry event. For more information on the State of Yucatan, please visit www.yucatan.travel
Natchez, MS LGTBQ Event Celebrates Inclusion This October
Coming off the heels of Pride celebrations across the country, Natchez, Mississippi released the schedule for its weekend-long event celebrating diversity, Y’all Means All Natchez. The weekend includes an evening reception, tours of antebellum homes, a pool party and the inaugural Y’all Means All Battle of the Belles featuring country music star Ty Herndon. Y’all Means All Natchez is comprised of a group of LGBTQ individuals and active supporters who offer aid and assistance to those living in isolation and battling depression within the LGBTQ community. Through fundraising, community activities, and working with similar organizations, they hope to develop a level of tolerance and understanding that can be achieved in the greater, surrounding area. For more information, visit www.yallmeansallnatchez.org/yall-means-all-ball. For more information on Natchez and an up-to-date calendar www.visitnatchez.org.
Wild Terrains Launches New Women-Only Trips to Portugal This Fall
Women-only travel is the fastest growing segment in the travel industry today. Whether they’re traveling with friends, families, partners or by themselves, women are a driving force behind an industry fueling the economy on a global scale. According to The George Washington School of Business, women account for nearly two-thirds of travelers today. With this steady rise in female travelers, there’s a new crop of travel companies offering unique experiences catering to this growing segment of women travelers. Washington, DC-based Wild Terrains is one of those companies, specializing in small group trips for women that support female-owned and operated businesses in its destinations. They’ve recently expanded their women-only group trips to Portugal, with trip dates starting in September 2019. The travel company’s mission is to connect creative women from around the world in dynamic destinations, while collaborating with local women entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and chefs. Wild Terrains is the only travel company leading women-only group trips that partner exclusively with local, female-owned businesses. Wild Terrains first launched trips to Mexico City in January 2019. To date, its Mexico City trips have been a huge success and are sold out for the remainder of 2019. The company plans to announce its Mexico City 2020 trip dates soon. After the success of Mexico City, Wild Terrains has expanded and launched their second destination – Portugal – with two group trips scheduled for fall 2019: September 4th – 11th and September 28th – October 5th. This eight day/seven-night journey takes women travelers to Lisbon, Alentejo, and Porto. Wild Terrains’ Portugal Experience is also packed with creative activities that support local, female-run businesses. For more information, visit http://www.wildterrains.com/portugal or email hello@wildterrains.com.
Tourism Toronto Has Launched New Destination Campaign: Let Yourself In – Campaign Invites Travelers to Go All-in and Share in Toronto Pride Felt Across the City

Tourism Toronto has launched a new destination marketing campaign, Let Yourself In – fresh on the heels of the Raptors capturing the NBA title and Toronto’s sense of welcome and diversity seizing the world’s attention. The campaign also arrives as Toronto celebrates another record year in visitation having welcomed 44 million travelers into the city in 2018. “Right now, Toronto’s having a real moment – you can feel the incredible sense of pride and energy here. Now, with the world watching, we’re inviting travelers to be a part of that pride and energy,” said Jon Mamela, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Tourism Toronto. “Toronto is the front door to Canada, and our message to travelers is simple – Let Yourself In – be a part the excitement, diversity and unapologetic progressiveness that defines who we are.” Let Yourself In launched in select markets in the U.S. and Canada with an integrated digital strategy. The campaign is anchored by video, using a variety of digital channels and new digital tools to target potential travelers including original content, co-created stories with select publishers and influencers and social media featuring #openyourcuriosity. The campaign serves as the platform for Toronto’s sales and marketing programs over the next two years. Videos from the Let Yourself In campaign can be viewed on

Tourism Toronto’s website See Toronto Now

 . Toronto’s meeting, conferences and events industry will also leverage Let Yourself In in global sales efforts. Business Events in Toronto have seen tremendous success in 2019 including tech conference Collision, Canada’s premier tourism marketplace Rendez-vous Canada, and Meeting Professionals International’s World Education Congress. “Let Yourself In is an open invitation to visitors from business event delegates and decision makers, to sports fans and leisure travelers, said Mamela. For more information visit SeeTorontoNow.com.

Puerto Vallarta to Host First National LGBTQ Media Association International Conference
The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board announced that the National Equality Media Association (NEMA), America’s sole non-profit organization dedicated to serving LGBTQ media, will hold its annual conference in Puerto Vallarta from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30, 2019. It will mark the first time in NEMA’s history that member LGBTQ publishers and owners will convene outside the U.S. to discuss the important issues facing LGBTQ publishing. Puerto Vallarta is renowned as the premier LGBT vacation destination in Mexico. The country’s first International Gay Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) member, joining in 2014, the city was also honored as the first in Mexico to be granted Gay Travel Approved status by GayTravel.com. The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board has previously partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), in addition to IGLTA, to promote the destination to the LGBTQ+ market. Luis Villaseñor, Public Relations Director for the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board, worked closely with the NEMA conference committee to bring the conference to Puerto Vallarta, believing those who have never been to the destination will see how special a place Puerto Vallarta is, and how welcoming it is for the LGBTQ community. Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and The Westin Resort & Spa Puerto Vallarta will serve as host hotels for the conference. Both hotels have a long history of service with the LGBTQ community, and the Marriott was granted LGBTQ certification by the Jalisco Tourism Secretariat and Talento Consultores in 2017. Speaking at this year’s conference will be Bob Witeck, from Washington, D.C.-based Witeck Communications, on the importance of legacy and local LGBTQ publications and their impact on the communities which they serve; Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media in New York, on how to better engage with readers through digital platforms; and Jerry Cunningham, owner and publisher of OUT FRONT magazine in Denver, on how to develop and grow tertiary revenue streams. NEMA’s membership ranks serve the content demands of LGBTQ markets by delivering relevant, personal and authentic content via traditional print media as well as in integrated digital and social media. NEMA is the access point for opening the door to a $900 billion market. With an established presence in highly sought-after media markets such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Nashville, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Chicago, New York and Orlando, NEMA is the tuning fork and connection point to the thriving and lucrative LGBTQ market. For more information on Puerto Vallarta, please go to www.visitpuertovallarta.com.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line Debuts New Culinary Offerings for Groups, Launches Six New Chinese, Indian and Vegan Menus
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is transporting guests’ taste buds to paradise with the debut of six new Chinese, Indian and Vegan menus, available for groups upon request onboard both Grand Celebration and Grand Classica. Two new Chinese menus celebrated the arrival of Chinese New Year on February 5, while two new vegan menus and two new Indian menus offer healthy, unique and globally-inspired options. Groups can choose from a vast selection of new dishes, available in addition to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s existing lineup of premier dining options at the likes of The Rock GrillAdmiral’s Steak & Seafood and The Bull Gourmet Burgers. Guests can choose from a variety of sweet and spicy dishes available on two new Chinese menus such as Hunan Style Crispy Whole Red Snapper, Crispy Tangerine Beef and Sichuan Eggplant. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is also catering to the 300 percent increase in the number of people who identified themselves as vegans in the U.S. from 2017 to 2018 (according to a Foodable Labs study) by offering a medley of plant-based offerings with appetizers like Crispy Hearts of Palm Cakes, Caramelized Parsnip & Coconut Soup and Confit of Fennel and Orange Quinoa Salad. Guests can also indulge in healthy yet hearty entrees like Zucchini Lasagna, Thai Green Curry and Green Lentil, Potato and Mushroom Burgers. Guests can also enjoy dishes from Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s two new Indian menus like Paneer Tikki Masala, Tandoori Chicken and Pan seared Prawns with Chilli Kokum Curry and special Indian desserts like Kheer (Indian rice & raisin pudding) and Warm Gajar Halwa (carrot-cardamom pudding). Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s new menus will be available for groups on a requested basis, as well as for guests when requested in advance, either when making their reservations or at the front desk once onboard the ship. From fast casual to elevated fine dining, guests can choose from over nine dining options onboard each ship including interactive lava rock dining at The Rock Grill, succulent steaks and seafood at Admiral’s Steak & Seafood, mouthwatering barbecue at the Ocean Breeze Bar and delectable Italian favorites at A Slice Above, to name a few. For more information on Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line and its dining options, visit www.bahamasparadisecruise.com.
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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351

Wednesday, Aug 08, 2019


 
  
Multicultural Travel News – News From Disneyland Resort, Los Cabos, Virgin Voyages, Medellin, National Museum of American Jewish History and more
News Briefs:
  • Disneyland Resort Celebrates Lunar New Year with a Touch of Disney Magic
  • Ten New Experiences in Los Cabos
  • Virgin Voyages Sets Out To Rival Food Scene Of World Famous Cities
  • Medellin Continues Evolving as an Attractive Metropolis with Steady Tourism Growth from North American Travelers in 2018
  • Winter Events at the National Museum of American Jewish History
  • Philadelphia’s Sensory-Friendly Attractions & Performances
  • Visitphilly.com Launches Accessibility Page
  • Robin Hood Leads the Way for Two New Themed, Guided Tours of Nottingham
  • TAP Air Portugal Adds NYC-Based Portuguese-American Chef George Mendes To Its Michelin-Star Winning “Taste the Stars” Culinary Team
  • El Salvador National Pupusas Day
  • New York’s SPYSCAPE Experience Now In Spanish!
News Briefs
 

Disneyland Resort Celebrates Lunar New Year with a Touch of Disney Magic, through Feb. 17, 2019

Disneyland Resort rings in the Year of the Pig this Lunar New Year at Disney California Adventure Park, Friday, Jan. 25 to Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019. During the 24 days of this multicultural celebration, guests will experience exciting live entertainment and musical performances, including an enhanced “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” fun-filled arts and crafts, beautiful décor, delicious cuisine and themed merchandise for the whole family to enjoy. Even the Three Little Pigs join in the fun with a rare appearance. Guests at the Lunar New Year celebration will discover a touch of Disney magic as they experience Asian culture through inspired food, music and entertainment with their family and friends, all to welcome another year of good fortune. Lunar New Year, traditionally celebrated within Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, commemorates the moment when both the sun and the moon begin their journey for another year. Highlights of the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure include: “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” a bright and bold parade hosted by Mulan and her faithful dragon, Mushu, that honors Lunar New Year and celebrates family and friendship. Four Asian marketplaces offering delightful foods inspired by Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, all with a Disney twist; A special Lunar New Year menu at Paradise Garden Grill that offers items inspired by traditional Asian fare, plus a new Festival Food and Beverage Cart inside Paradise Gardens and more. For more information, visit Disneyland.com.
Ten New Experiences in Los Cabos
Los Cabos has created 10 new stunning experiences, tours and adventures now offered to travelers interested in nature, gastronomy, adventure, art and the local way of life. Here are three that are tailor made for culture seekers eager to get to know the original and local Los Cabos. Get to Know the Locals of San José del Cabo – Indulge Every Sense on an Immersive Tour. Experts impart all of their insights into the culture. Meet a barista on a coffee tasting, sample artisan ice cream an try a local liqueur. Visual artist and jewelers also populate San José del Cabo, while a renowned chef at Casa San José 23400 connects both worlds with an art-to-table meal. Art-to-Table Dining – Artistic Inspiration Leads to Culinary Exploration. Meet the artists and artisans on this special five-hour tour that immerses guests into the culture of Los Cabos. From the works of surrealist painter Leonora Carrington to an art-inspired meal at La Revolución restaurant, this is one experience that will remain forever imprinted on the canvas of your memory; San José del Cabo: Beyond the Bridge – Experience Charming San José del Cabo at a leisurely pace. Begin at the marina with a guided art walk among the works of Leonora Carrington. Champagne and canapés aboard an anchored yacht are followed by a trip to Huerta de Los Tamarindos for a true farm-to-table meal. More discoveries await at Acre as an expert mezcallier leads a tasting journey of artisanal mezcales. On Wednesday nights, guests can participate in a nocturnal show at Wirikuta – a desert garden where a tribute to Huichol culture bursts forth in a brilliant display. For more info, visit 
Virgin Voyages Sets Out To Rival Food Scene Of World Famous Cities
Virgin Voyages, the new lifestyle brand set to disrupt the travel industry, announced the breadth of its onboard eateries, which include an expansive array of restaurants ranging from haute cuisine to casual fare. With a total of 20+ food choices onboard Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, the company released new designs for their restaurants, seaside lounges and casual eateries by their Creative Collective, which includes world-renowned designers from Roman and Williams, Tom Dixon, Concrete Amsterdam and Soft Room, amongst others. The ship’s dining program, Razzle Dazzle, features a Drag brunch. Virgin Voyages does not believe in paying more for great food and ditched the traditional upcharges levied when dining in speciality restaurants at sea. Virgin Voyages has designed all eateries on board to offer exceptional made to order eats and opted to include all restaurant food in the voyage fare. Virgin Voyages will bring city-like eating to sea and throw out the traditional cruise dining rule book, with no buffet, no main dining room, no forced formal wear, no assigned seating, no assigned dining times and enhanced the choice for sailors to grab a bite by keeping restaurant doors open until well into the night and in some cases the early hours of the morning. #SeaLicious #ShipTease #virginvoyages @VirginVoyages For more information, visit www.virginvoyages.com.
Medellin Continues Evolving as an Attractive Metropolis with Steady Tourism Growth from North American Travelers in 2018
The Medellin Convention & Visitors Bureau announced impressive and continuous tourism growth with an 18 percent increase in travelers from the U.S. between January and August of 2018, as compared to the previous year. More than 528,000 Americans visited Colombia in 2017, of which 105,735 visited Medellin, representing 16 percent of the total arrivals. An emerging arts and cultural hub in Latin America, Medellin has developed into a diverse destination attracting both leisure and business travelers and offering a multitude of experiences. In January, it won the 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award in the category of ‘Top Destinations on the Rise,’ an achievement based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor travelers worldwide. In addition to leisure travelers, business travelers have increased in importance with the city welcoming an average of 83,000 business travelers per year since 2014, according to ProColombia. This is very representative of the city’s constant evolution, especially within the meetings segment. Every year, Medellin hosts numerous international events with the most well-known being the Smart City Business American Congress & Expo and the 6th IPBES Plenary Assembly in 2018, the World Economic Forum for Latin America in 2016 and the World Tourism Organization General Assembly in 2015. Another important segment for Medellin are expats and retirees. Colombia was listed as one of the top 10 places to retire in 2018 by International Living. One of the city’s most prized possessions is its selection of museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (recently renovated), the Museum of Antioquia (recently renovated), the Museum of the University of Antioquia and the Casa de la Memoria Museum, a multimedia memories museum that details the violence that has plagued the country since the 80s. There are also several smaller neighborhood museums, a series of public libraries, and cultural centers such as the Moravia Cultural Center – all of which breathe life into the city. Medellin hosts a variety of year-long festivals celebrating its culture and traditions. Among the most popular include: The International Tango Festival in June, which brings in professional dancers from across the world to celebrate the city’s vibrant tango culture; Feria de las Flores in August, a major festival commemorating Medellin’s paisa population through several events such as pageants, horse parades, concerts, among others; and the Festival of Lights and Christmas in December, a traditional seasonal event where businesses and locals alike join in celebrating the holidays by featuring extravagant light shows and displays across the city. For more information, visit www.medellinconventionbureau.com.
Winter Events at the National Museum of American Jewish History
The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) announces a variety of programs and activities for all ages this season, from the special exhibition The Art of Rube Goldberg, to the onstage forum Antisemitism in America: Is Hate Speech Free Speech, to a film screening with live score. The Museum will be open and free on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and throughout the month of February. Explore stories of American Jews as they fought discrimination and overcame adversity within the larger context of America’s ongoing struggles for religious, ethnic, and racial freedom. Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 18. Explore an original letter written by George Washington to the Jewish community (on view at the Museum) and write your own letter to the president at the Freedom Family Presidential Corner. You might meet George Washington himself, he promised to stop by and say hello. To view NMAJH’s full programs calendar and to register for events, visit NMAJH.org/calendar.
Philadelphia’s Sensory-Friendly Attractions & Performances
Inclusivity is embedded in the original promise of Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Today, the region keeps that promise to residents and visitors with sensory sensitivity. Some of Philly’s most popular attractions, including The Franklin Institute and Please Touch Museum® have sensory-friendly policies and programming. So, too, do eminent arts organizations such as Pennsylvania Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Much credit for the region’s expanding sensory-friendly offerings goes to Roger Ideishi, program director of occupational therapy at Temple University. Ideishi facilitates arts and cultural environments that respect both the needs of people with cognitive disabilities and the expression of the artists and attractions themselves. See Philadelphia venues and groups that have recently expanded their sensory-friendly programming at this link https://www.visitphilly.com/media-center/press-releases/philadelphias-sensory-friendly-attractions-performances/.
Visitphilly.com Launches Accessibility Page
Planning a visit to the nation’s first capital, a hub of U.S. history, arts, culture, food and hospitality, just got easier for travelers with disabilities. In order to serve the one in eight people in the U.S. with one or more disabilities, VISIT PHILADELPHIA® has launched a new accessibility page, visitphilly.com/accessibility. With help from Art-Reach, a Philadelphia-based organization that creates, advocates and expands accessible opportunities to a full spectrum of society, VISIT PHILADELPHIA created a page that points users to the region’s top resources for getting around-and getting the best out of-the city and region by offering information on: Public transportation and parking for visitors who use wheelchairs or have mobility impairment, Local resources for visitors with visual impairments or blindness, Local resources for visitors with hearing impairments or deafness, Local resources for visitors with autism or sensory sensitivity and Accessibility information for museums, historic sites and other popular attractions. For more information, visit visitphilly.com/accessibility.
Robin Hood Leads the Way for Two New Themed, Guided Tours of Nottingham
Legendary folklore and modern charm collide in Nottingham, a destination known throughout the world as the home of outlaw hero Robin Hood – a character whose world-renowned tale has been retold over 800 years through medieval ballads, literature, television, film and theatre. The new itinerary will help tour operators plan trips to England, which explore the legend and other literary greats associated with Nottingham. The itinerary also suggests a trip to Newstead Abbey, a former home of one of Britain’s greatest poets, the ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ Lord Byron. Visitors are invited to wander the grand gardens and romantic ruins of this 300-acre estate and meet the rebel Lord himself exploring his life story on a character-led guided tour of the 12th century abbey. The two new guided walking tours; The Robin Hood Town Tour with Lunch at England’s Oldest Inn and The Legend of Robin Hood and Sherwood Forest Tours both invite visitors to join award-winning character-led guide – Ezekial Bone. Ezekial Bone presents in the guise of Robin Hood, explaining the history of the legend and exploring historic Nottingham before passing over to expert guides, Cultural Heritage Tours, for an onward adventure to explore the historic landscapes of Sherwood Forest. The experiences have been created following extensive international research which identified that more than a third of overseas visitors want to see places from film and literature, and that almost half of them visited museums, art galleries, castles or historic houses on previous trips. The itineraries also recommend accommodation, with a focus on trade or group-friendly properties and those that relate to the theme or are quintessentially English. Also recommended are complementary experiences including food experiences, landscapes famous for film locations or other local sites of interest. For more information visit https://www.visit-nottinghamshire.co.uk.
TAP Air Portugal Adds NYC-Based Portuguese-American Chef George Mendes To Its Michelin-Star Winning “Taste the Stars” Culinary Team
TAP Air Portugal’s ‘Taste the Stars’ program featuring five Michelin star winning Portuguese chefs and the airline’s cuisine consultant Chef Vítor Sobral, is adding Portuguese-American Chef George Mendes to the roster. A first generation American born to Portuguese parents, acclaimed chef and cookbook author George Mendes brought elevated Portuguese cooking to New York City when he opened his first restaurant, Aldea, in 2009. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1992, Mendes spent 17 years honing his knowledge, technique, and style under the guidance of some of the world’s greatest culinary masters Alain Ducasse, and his most influential mentor, David Bouley. At Aldea, Mendes serves a menu of refined Portuguese-inspired dishes reflective of his classic training, Iberian experiences, and the flavors of his heritage-earning the restaurant a one-star rating from the Michelin Guide every year since 2010. TAP introduced “Taste the Stars” for Business Class passengers one year ago, offering a selection from one of the award-winning chefs as a choice from their inflight meal selections to promote the best of Portuguese cuisine around the world. Passengers from New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport will enjoy a selection from George Mendes on their way to Lisbon (including his signature tastes/dishes such as Potato and Collard Green Soup; Cod with Potatoes, Onion, Tomato and Black Olives; and Pastel de Nata). As part of the “Taste The Stars” project, TAP offers a platform to promote young talents trained by the Chefs, who will also be given the opportunity to present their creations as part of the new inflight service. The Michelin chefs’ restaurants in Portugal are also part of TAP’s “Portugal Stopover” program, offering free bottles of wine for Stopover travelers visiting Lisbon or Porto, while en route to destinations throughout Europe and Africa. www.flytap.com
El Salvador National Pupusas Day
On the second Sunday of November each year, El Salvador celebrates National Pupusas Day. Travelers can visit Antiguo Cuscatlán, which became famous for obtaining the Guinness World Record for cooking the largest pupusa in the world. In 2005, Salvadoran Legislative Assembly declared pupusas the national dish of El Salvador. Pupusas are prepared with corn rice or rice dough, and are most commonly stuffed with pumpkin, pork crackling, cheese or a mixture of beans. They can also be stuffed with cheese and chipilín flowers, which are native to Central America. As Central America’s smallest country, El Salvador offers a wide array of travel experiences accessible within a short period of time. The country’s StopOver program allows travelers with layovers of five hours or more to get out of the airport and explore coastal attractions beloved to surfers, historic cultural sites and volcanic mountains, all less than an hour away from the international airport by car. Take a 45-minute drive to the coast for a surf lesson or to San Salvador for a tour of the historic center and El Boqueron Volcano. More information is available at 
New York’s SPYSCAPE Experience Now In Spanish!
SPYSCAPE, the immersive new spy museum and experience, announced an exciting new program to offer the entire SPYSCAPE visitor journey (audio, video and interactive challenges) in the Spanish language. Visitors to SPYSCAPE get to see the world and their own potential more clearly, through great spy stories and gadgets, using an interactive individual assessment methodology developed by top psychologists and a former Head of Training at British Intelligence. To celebrate the launch in Spanish, SPYSCAPE offered free admission in December from 9-11am. During these times the entire museum and experience was run in Spanish. From noon onwards each day the content reverted to English, but interactive challenges will continue to be available in both Spanish and English. After this initial launch week, SPYSCAPE will announce a regular schedule for running the entire museum and experience in Spanish from January onwards. SPYSCAPE also offers full-colour printed souvenir guides in Spanish, detailing all the dramatic spy stories, skills and world-class artefacts which appear in the museum. For more information, visit spyscape.com.
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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351
Wednesday, Feb 02, 2019

  
Multicultural Travel News – News From American Museum of Natural History, Oklahoma City and more
News Briefs:
  • American Museum of Natural History Appoints Renowned Nuu-chah-nulth Artist and Cultural Historian Haa’yuups to Play Key Role in Reinterpretation of Historic Northwest Coast Hall
  • Oklahoma City Tourism is Making Strides in LGBT Tourism
  • The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Launches “Hello Taste Thailand” Guidebook to Inspire Foodies to Experience Gastronomic Tourism in Thailand
  • Greater Fort Lauderdale Expands Multicultural Tourism with Multimillion-Dollar Tennis Training Facility and Museum
  • Discover Puerto Rico with Help from a Local Friend
News Briefs
 
American Museum of Natural History Appoints Renowned Nuu-chah-nulth Artist and Cultural Historian Haa’yuups to Play Key Role in Reinterpretation of Historic Northwest Coast Hall
Nuu-chah-nulth artist and cultural historian Haa’yuups (Ron Hamilton) was appointed as co-curator of the American Museum of Natural History’s multi-year project to update, conserve, and restore the historic Northwest Coast Hall. The appointment was announced by Museum President Ellen V. Futter. Haa’yuups is joining Peter Whiteley, the Museum’s curator of North American Ethnology, as co-curator of the Northwest Coast Hall renovation. Haa’yuups is a First Nations artist, scholar, and historian. Over the past 30 years, he has been active globally through publications, public lectures, and curatorial work. In addition to the American Museum of Natural History, he has collaborated with the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico, the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. He is the Head of the House of Takiishtakamthlat-h, of the Huupachesat-h First Nation, Nuu-chah-nulth. In addition to his role as a community scholar and historian, Haa’yuups is also a regalia designer, painter, carver, dancer, singer, metal engraver, graphic designer, and illustrator. The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world’s preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. Visit amnh.org for more information.

Oklahoma City Tourism is Making Strides in LGBT Tourism
Oklahoma City played host to five national print publications October 3-7, 2018 to help promote the city as welcoming, inviting and a place to do business. Working in partnership with Joey Amato with PrideJourneys.com, OKC selected five national outlets for a four day press trip highlighting many things to do in the city, including experiences other journalists hadn’t been exposed to in the destination. The four-day press trip included an opening night reception at 21c Museum Hotel Oklahoma City with several gay-owned businesses in Oklahoma City, publications and local influencers. Mayor David Holt joined the CVB at the reception in welcoming the journalists to the City and discussing the inclusion of all residents and visitors in Oklahoma City. Media also enjoyed behind-the-scenes tour in the archives of the Oklahoma History Center, rowed with Olympic athletes in the Boathouse District, learned how to make an official Oklahoma onion burger, had the opportunity to see the newly-opened Sanctuary Asia at the Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens and got up-close encounters feeding Cassowary Birds, Bears and Asian Elephants, among many other experiences. Oklahoma City expands much wider than LGBT leisure tourism, they’re focused on the LGBT meeting industry too. The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) is putting a lot of effort into this industry with help of sales manager, Morgan Miller. Miller has been with the CVB for more than six years with various markets other than LGBT. Miller partnered with the marketing team to generate more coverage on Oklahoma City as a welcoming destination in late 2017 by adding a webpage dedicated to LGBT tourism and media coverage. In October 2017, the CVB hosted their first LGBT-focused press trip with national media outlets from across the US. The outreach doesn’t stop there either. Miller is partnering with OKC’s PRIDE festival to have a presence there and also partners with other groups in the city to make connections and be a source for tourism in Oklahoma City. For more information on Oklahoma City, visit 
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) Launches “Hello Taste Thailand” Guidebook to Inspire Foodies to Experience Gastronomic Tourism in Thailand
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched a new “Hello Taste Thailand” guidebook which aims to inspire foodies from around the world to experience gastronomic tourism in Thailand. The project features 10 different routes spread across six provinces, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Chanthaburi, Surat Thani, and Ayutthaya. TAT has invited experienced gastronomic tour companies to join in with the co-creation of gastronomic tour programs, placing an emphasis on creating culinary experiences for tourists so that they can learn about cultures, arts, and food-related stories. New gastronomic tourism routes include: BANGKOK’S THAI WISDOM – This trip invites you to follow in the footsteps of Thai ancestors and discover the wisdom of Thai food that has been cherished by both locals and foreign visitors for so long. You’ll get to go behind-the-scenes to discover what’s happening in the kitchen, as well as learn about the complex recipes and how Thai people traditionally cook throughout the seasons; BANGKOK’S ‘PATH OF FLOWERS’ – Welcome to this ‘Path of Flowers’ one-day tasting tour of the Thai capital, where you will witness the beauty of the country through a variety of local flowers. Having been part of Thai culture for a long time, flowers are used for making a number of savory dishes, desserts, and drinks by bringing out the best properties of each flower. As part of the trip, you’ll get to both taste and try to cook some delicious dishes with the help of an expert chef; EXOTIC BANGKOK – Experience the creativity of some not-so-typical Thai dishes on this ‘Exotic Bangkok’ route through the capital, with plenty of new and exciting tastes to discover along the way. The combination of talented chefs who hand-pick their ultra-fresh, locally sourced ingredients modern cooking techniques using new technology results in some of the most delicious and eye-catching dishes found anywhere in Bangkok; Download the e-book via http://www.tourismthailand.org/hellotastethailand.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Expands Multicultural Tourism with Multimillion-Dollar Tennis Training Facility and Museum
Philanthropists, professional tennis elite and community leaders gathered during a private reception at the 2018 U.S. Open to raise awareness and support for the ATA/ATEF (American Tennis Association/American Tennis & Education Foundation) National Tennis Center coming to Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Miramar Regional Park. “I’ve advocated for many years to make tennis more diverse and Broward County’s national training center is a big step in that direction,” said Katrina Adams, Chairman of the Board and President of the United States Tennis Association. “The ATA/ATEF National Tennis Center will be an important addition to the South Florida landscape, bringing together the rich history of black tennis in one central location,” said Albert Tucker, VP of Multicultural Business Development at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The complex will include the ATA corporate headquarters, a national training facility for promising young players, and the Black Tennis Hall of Fame showcasing historic memorabilia.” The ATA/ATEF National Tennis Center groundbreaking is expected in 2019 and will be home to the following: 20,000-square-foot Black Tennis Hall of Fame, ATA/ATEF headquarters, Large center court with seating for 3,000, More than 20 auxiliary courts, 125-room hotel for athletes, their families and visitors to stay during tournaments. According to Stacy Ritter, President & CEO for Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, the facility is also a major step in attracting multicultural travelers to the destination for competitions, training and vacation stays. For more information, contact the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 22-SUNNY or visit www.sunny.org.
Discover Puerto Rico with Help from a Local Friend  
ViaHero, a peer-to-peer platform where travelers hire locals to plan unique, personalized trips, is expanding its destinations to include Puerto Rico. Started in 2015, ViaHero has been helping travelers create authentic, one-of-a-kind travel experiences by connecting them with locals who serve as direct-access experts and knowledgeable friends. ViaHero’s expansion into Puerto Rico, the company’s first American destination, begins in November 2019. ViaHero allows travelers to choose a local “Hero” with shared interests to create a custom guidebook. The relationship between travelers and Heroes mitigates the uncertainty and unease of traveling to a foreign land – without compromising authenticity. Heroes offer their true opinions and recommendations for a flat rate and no commission agreements. With the Hero’s support, travelers avoid the “one-size-fits-all” travel experience and gain independence.  They are provided with interactive maps, travel arrangements and unlimited access to their Hero. ViaHero’s expansion into Puerto Rico comes at an optimum time for travelers curious to discover the Island of Enchantment. Finding reliable information about traveling to the area is evolving daily as it continues to recover from Hurricane Maria. By expanding to Puerto Rico, ViaHero is sending a lifeline to both locals and travelers. Trip planning fees go straight to the Heroes and unlike other peer-to-peer work, Heroes don’t have to have a car or a spare room to earn income. If they’re reliable, knowledgeable and have access to a phone, laptop and WiFi, they have an opportunity.  Additionally, Heroes make recommendations based on the people, places, and things they know best.  This guarantees tourism dollars spread far and wide within local communities, benefiting mom-and-pop businesses and local haunts, along with big-name tourism attractions agencies tend to promote. ViaHero currently has Heroes in Colombia, Cuba and Japan. Puerto Rico service began November 19th. For more information, visit viahero.com.
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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351
Thursday, Jan 01, 2019

  
Multicultural Travel News – News From Charleston, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen, Mexico, South Dakota, Barbados, San Antonio and more
News Briefs:
  • Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen’s Cenote Spa Wins 2018 World Luxury Spa Award; Design Inspired by Mayan Culture
  • Native Americans’ Day & Black Hills Powwow
  • Puerto Vallarta’s Historic Center Declared a Cultural Heritage of the State of Jalisco
  • 2018 Barbados Food and Rum Festival Focuses on Local Chefs and Mixologists
  • 12 Hotels Helped Visitors Celebrate Mexican Independence Day Like a Local
  • Interjet Unveils First Ad Campaign in U.S. and Canada “Inspiration to Travel”
  • San Antonio Celebrates Dia de los Muertos Like No Other City in the U.S.
  • Puerto Vallarta Welcomes 9 Michelin Chefs For Vallarta Gastronomica
  • Charleston Heritage Federation Fall 2018 Events
News Briefs
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen’s Cenote Spa Wins 2018 World Luxury Spa Award;Design Inspired by Mayan Culture
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen, Mexico, announces that Cenote Spa by Grand Hyatt was voted Country Winner for category “Best Unique Spa Experience” in the 2018 World Luxury Spa Awards. Designed by the world-renowned Sordo Madaleno architecture group, the spa seamlessly blends modern, contemporary design elements with Mayan-inspired textures and materials. The entire design of the spa is inspired by Mayan culture and their beliefs around the spiritual nature of cenotes. The inspiration is seen most notably throughout the stonework, lighting and fixtures. It covers 6,000 square-feet underground and brilliantly captures the serenity, rejuvenation and beauty of the region’s notable cenotes – this inspiration is seen throughout the spa’s intricate stonework, dramatic lighting, and textured layout. The Cenote Spa combines water and mangroves naturally throughout eight treatment rooms and specialty facilities, which include two double suites, hydrotherapy stations, a eucalyptus steam room, fiber optic chromotherapy showers, 82ft. lap pool, fitness center with Technogym equipment and workout studio, and full service salon. Mexican ingredients are used in their one-of-a-kind product and local blend called an Herbal Poultice, which helps relax muscles, while the potent herbs have therapeutic effects that can reduce inflammation, promote circulation, relieve joint pain and stiffness, calm muscle spasms, improve mobility and flexibility, boost the immune system and tone the skin. The massage treatments are influenced by Thai massage techniques. Upon entrance, guests are guided through different areas for relaxation prior to enjoying their choice of indulgent and holistic services, and treatments for massage, body and face. To find out more about Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen’s Cenote Spa, visit here.
Native Americans’ Day & Black Hills Powwow 
As the first state to establish the holiday in lieu of Columbus Day, South Dakota welcomed travelers to take part in cultural festivities including: Rapid City’s Black Hills Powwow (October 5 – 7), also known as He Sapa Wacipi, was three days filled with indigenous singing, dancing, drum groups, art show, handgames, athletic competitions and a variety of other events. Over the decades, the Black Hills Powwow has become one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the country attracting hundreds of dancers, singers, artisans and thousands of spectators. Native Americans’ Day at Crazy Horse Memorial (October 8): Travelers could visit the memorial, the world’s largest mountain carving in progress, a 563-foot tall mountain carving depicting the famed Oglala Lakota warrior. Festive programs at Crazy Horse featured performances, arti, storytelling and hands-on activities for all, as well as a traditional buffalo stew lunch. During their visit, travelers could continue learning about South Dakota’s indigenous culture and history with the following: Visited Rapid City’s The Journey Museum’s interactive exhibitsExplored the Indian Museum of North America®, which is located on the Crazy Horse Memorial grounds and features art and artifacts from tribes across the continent; Participated in a local tour on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to pay respects at Wounded Knee; Hiked to the sacred Bear Butte State Park; Visited Prairie Edge, a retail store and gallery specializing in Native American books, music, jewelry and ceremonial items, in Rapid City.
Puerto Vallarta’s Historic Center Declared a Cultural Heritage of the State of Jalisco
Puerto Vallarta’s Historic Center is now a protected Cultural Heritage of the Mexican State of Jalisco. The declaration was made by the state’s Department of Culture on July 21 via the official journal of Jalisco and makes the center of the city a protected area, with all the rights and privileges of a heritage protected by state and federal laws. The recognition includes the area from the beginning of the Malecon – where the oldest hotel in Puerto Vallarta, the hotel Rosita, stands – and continues to the cobblestoned Romantic Zone and up to the historic Conchas Chinas neighborhoods. Each area is of special historical significance to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco and Mexico, as well as the essence of the port city, which is in the midst of celebrating its centennial. According to the State of Jalisco, this proclamation is a step to further preserve the architectural elements of patrimonial value and image and essential characteristics of the typical town on the seashore, one of the unique qualities of Puerto Vallarta, known as the “most Mexican” beach destination. The center of Puerto Vallarta is much loved by the people of Vallarta and appreciated by visitors, as it retains authentic characteristics of a traditional Mexican town, in its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Of particular interest is the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the city’s central plaza, Los Muertos Pier and colonial homes that date back hundreds of years. Puerto Vallarta’s historic center is a place full of life where neighbors coexist and mix with tourists who enjoy strolls along a boardwalk lined with sculptures, paintings and other works of art. At dusk, the center is full of locals out for a stroll, heading for church services or dinner. Mixing with them, visitors can soak in the most beautiful sunsets on the Pacific; gaze at bobbing sailboats and the emblematic Marigalante pirate ship; and dig into roasted corn, mangoes with chili, cakes, tuba water and many other appetizers and desserts. All these attractions are located on the boardwalk and neighboring downtown streets, which for many reasons already was – official proclamation or not – a cultural heritage jewel of Jalisco.
2018 Barbados Food and Rum Festival Focuses on Local Chefs and Mixologists      

 

For the first time in its nine-year history, the Barbados Food & Rum Festival (October 17-21, 2018) will transform its format to focus on local culinary and cocktail talent. In the past, Barbados’ homegrown talent was often eclipsed by the existing notoriety of visiting international celebrity chefs. The shift contradicts the conventional setup of high-profile Caribbean food festivals, which typically put several western chefs at the helm, providing a ‘New York on the beach,’ experience of sorts. With 2018 serving as Barbados’ Year of Culinary Experiences, the tourism board (Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.) sees this festival development as necessary to educate foodie travelers on the wealth of award-winning chefs and mixologists on the island, and inspire visitation specifically for Bajan food and rum. Many travelers, especially from the U.S., often do not know of the nuances that separate one Caribbean island’s cuisine from another. This will be a tasty way to learn how Barbados, the proclaimed Culinary Capital of the Caribbean, does it best! The new model of the festival also seeks to elevate the reputation of Caribbean fine dining – much of which requires the same level of culinary mastery as French or Mediterranean fare. 2018’s line-up includes Chef Damian Leach, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association 2016 Caribbean Chef of the Year and 2018 Barbados Chef of the Year. Local favorites such as Chefs Craig Greenidge and Michael Harrison, and pastry guru Javon Cummins will also take center stage. Not to completely upend tradition, the festival will still maintain one international ambassador – London’s Tom Aiken. This will be the Michelin-starred chef’s second time participating in the festival. He will be tasked with promoting it and infusing his dishes with locally sourced ingredients. More information is available at the website http://www.foodandrum.com.

12 Hotels Helped Visitors Celebrate Mexican Independence Day Like a Local
Every year on September 16, Mexicans go above and beyond in letting their patriotic colors shine through. From mariachi performances, traditional dances, food and drink fests, locally-inspired games and much more, this year’s festivities created a very special Mexican Independence Day – welcoming travelers from all over the world to join in the festivities. Secrets Vallarta Bay and Now Amber in Puerto Vallarta offered plenty of opportunities to feel the spirit of Mexican Independence Day. During the day, the neighboring properties’ pool area hosted an entertainment contest, as well as had Mexican grill and Margarita stations, accompanied by the lovely sounds of Mexican mariachis. On Independence Day night, SUNSCAPE PUERTO VALLARTA RESORT & SPA hosted a Mexican Fiesta including a special menu with authentic Mexican dishes, such as pozole, tacos and a diversity of Mexican candies. The celebration also featured on-going entertainment, from mariachis and traditional dancers taking over the floor, to spectacular fireworks towards the end of the night. On September 15, The Iberostar Playa Mita hosted a variety of celebratory events for guests all ages, filled with Mexican music, games, food & drinks. The five star, all-inclusive and family-friendly property decorated its main lobby in traditional Mexican style, showcased Mexican folklore, offered Mexican games for kids and grownups, and hosted a special mariachi performance by its entertainment team, Star Friends. The night also included the presentation of its famous Grito de Independencia to rightfully commemorate the country’s heroes. This September, the collections of luxury resorts will be hosting “Guacamania” Fest, a month-long event celebrating avocado and its Mexican heritage by showcasing avocados in food, spa treatments, cocktails and more! On Sept. 15, Temptation Cancun Resort hosted the annual VIVA MEXICO! Mexican Independence Day party with lively decorations, adult-entertainment and the best of Mexican cuisine. Hotel Xcaret Mexico is an opulent, oceanfront haven where guests of all ages can enjoy thrilling nature-driven experiences, superior service and the authentically rich spirit that defines Mexico. Known for celebrating its home country through every aspect of the hotel, the 900-suite property is located on the pristine beaches of Riviera Maya and is surrounded by the local lush rainforest, coves and rivers. The vast majority of the hotel’s décor was handcrafted in Mexico; examples include: Jalisco candy offered at turndown service, the bathroom tiles are painted by a nearby Quintana Roo community.
Interjet Unveils First Ad Campaign in U.S. and Canada “Inspiration to Travel”
Interjet, one of the fastest growing airlines in North America, unveiled its inaugural advertising campaign for the U.S. and Canada titled, “Inspiration to Travel”. The new campaign is designed to set Interjet apart from other Mexican and international airlines flying to and from Mexico by promoting the true differentiators between Interjet and these carriers – not just lower fares but added features and benefits Interjet provides that the other airlines don’t. “With Interjet, we’re giving the traveling public the inspiration to fly again,” said José Luis Garza, Interjet’s General Director. “We understand what travelers are looking for in an airline partner – not just lower fares, but everything they used to get for the price of a ticket, such as free checked bags, seat selection, free beverages and snacks onboard, even the ability to pay by credit card, “Garza added,” The campaign was created by Landor, a global brand and consulting agency with production by NorthFilms, a Mexico City-based production company. Media will break this fall using national and local print publications as well as select broadcast and digital media. to make a reservation, visit www.interjet.com.mx or call (866) 285-9525.
San Antonio Celebrates Dia de los Muertos Like No Other City in the U.S.
When it comes to Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, there’s no place in the United States that observes this traditionally Mexican holiday quite like San Antonio. This year, as the city celebrates its Tricentennial anniversary, there will be more than 20 unique events from October 20 through November 3 — more than any other city in Texas, and likely any other city in the country. Mexican roots run deep in San Antonio (which is a previous colonial capital of New Spain and state capital of the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas). The city is a three-hour drive from the U.S.-Mexico border, and more than 60 percent of the city’s population is of Mexican descent. This cultural heritage is evident through San Antonio’s unwavering celebratory spirit — the city hosts a seemingly endless roster of festivals and events each year, including the 10-day-long
Fiesta San Antonio in April — and also is distinctly felt when it comes to Día de Los Muertos. This year’s events run the gamut, from small gatherings with traditional altars and face painting to multiple-day festivals featuring live music, stilt walkers, Mexican cuisine and festive parades. In addition to official celebrations, restaurants and cafes across San Antonio will showcase altars, customary décor and fresh-baked pan de muerto, a popular type of sweet bread that is also used as an offering to loved ones who have passed. This collective spirit offers an unforgettable way to experience the city, as well as to gain insight into this unique, historic holiday which views death with lightness and humor rather than fear. Most events are family friendly, allowing children to learn about the rich traditions of the holiday, helping it continue for generations to come. For a calendar of events, visit here.
Puerto Vallarta Welcomes 9 Michelin Chefs For Vallarta Gastronomica
Puerto Vallarta will continue celebrating its Centennial with another event of international importance when it hosts the 10th annual edition of the Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronomica scheduled to take place from October 14 -18. With over 48 of the most important international chefs, including 8 Michelin-awarded chefs, Puerto Vallarta is ready to reaffirm its position as Mexico’s Culinary Beach Destination. Under the slogan: Mexico, thanks for so much! Vallarta Nayarit Gastronomica will be a combination of activities and events taking place all around food. Cooking demonstrations, classes and a trade exhibition will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel Vallarta and private gala dinners including one celebrating the career of Mexican chef Susana Palazuelos. Puerto Vallarta’s iconic Malecon will set the stage for the event’s first event on the 14 with its Centennial Reception. In addition, thanks to the significant growth of Guadalajara in the gastronomic sphere due to the diversity of its cuisine and the traditional dishes it has, it has been chosen as the guest city of this edition. In addition, the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board will be hosting MasterChef US Season 6 Winner and Master Chef Latino Judge Chef Claudia. For more information on Vallarta-Nayarit Gastronomica, visit: www.vallartanayaritgastronomica.com.

Charleston Heritage Federation Fall 2018 Events

Charleston Heritage Federation (CHF) brings an abundance of events to the Charleston area this fall. From craft workshops to art exhibits and wine tastings with dreamy backdrops, guests can savor the season with a collection of culturally-enriching events geared towards locals and visitors of all ages. The upcoming CHF events occurring in the Holy City this fall include: Grand Opening of New South Carolina Historical Society MuseumSeptember 21, will unveil a new, state-of-the-art museum in the fully-renovated Fireproof Building located downtown. Drawing from the society’s vast archives, the new South Carolina Historical Society Museum will showcase 300+ years of South Carolina history through the personal accounts, rarely-seen artifacts and hand-written documents of those who experienced it; Sweetgrass Basket Weaving Workshop: Charleston MuseumSeptember 22. Learn to make traditional sweetgrass baskets with Sarah Edwards-Hammond this fall. During this workshop, which is $65 for non-members and $50 for members, guests will learn a brief history of the basket making art form and then make their very own basket with Hammond’s guidance; Harvest Moon Dinner: Middleton PlaceSeptember 24. Indulge in an evening of local harvests and grains from The Middleton Place Restaurant on their very own organic farm; A Dark Place of Dreams: Gibbes Museum of ArtSeptember 28 – January 6. The Gibbes Museum of Art will host its first large-scale show dedicated solely to women artists this fall, showcasing the works of Louise Nevelson, one of the pioneering sculptors of the 20th century, along with three contemporary artists she inspired: Chakaia Booker, Lauren Fensterstock and Kate Gilmore, whose works weave together various objects – from rubber tires to shells to paint in motion; Fall Tours of Homes, History & Architecture: Preservation Society of CharlestonOctober 4 – 28. Experience Charleston’s architecturally significant private houses, intimate gardens, churches and public buildings as you stroll through the historic streets during the 42nd Annual Fall Tours; Charleston Collects: South Asian Art: Gibbes Museum of ArtOctober 26 – February 17. Debuting the Charleston Collects series, this exhibition features selections from a major private collection of South Asian art in Charleston; Holiday Market: Middleton PlaceNovember 23 – 24. Kick off the holiday season at Middleton Place’s Garden Market & Nursery and Museum Shop with an open-air market featuring local artisans and vendors, live musicians performing festive carols, complimentary hot cider and treats, and featured items in both shops; Grand Illumination and Dinner: Middleton PlaceDecember 13 – 15. Travel back in time to the Christmas of 1782 as trained actors in period costume present the return of Arthur Middleton from Philadelphia, the end of the Revolutionary War in the South and the departure of the British troops; Heritage Indigo Workshop with Madame Magar: Drayton HallSeptember 20. Drayton Hall Preservation Trust welcomes Madam Magar to conduct a workshop on the growing, processing, and dying of indigo and indigo-dyed products as part of their deep look into indigo traditions. Members are invited to learn about Charleston’s rich history with indigo; The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd, Book Signing and Reception: Drayton HallOctober 7. The Indigo Girl author Natasha Boyd speaks at Drayton Hall’s new Education Center on Charleston’s native Eliza Lucas Pickney’s influence on her new book, The Indigo Girl, which is based on historical documents, including Eliza’s letters. This is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina and served as an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today; Plantation Days: Middleton PlaceNovember 10 – 11. Watch craftworkers demonstrate the skills practiced by enslaved people as they prepared for winter during this educational event where guests can learn different aspects of 18th and 19th century plantation life including domestic skills, African American culture and Gullah storytelling. Free with general admission ticket; About Charleston Heritage Federation Charleston Heritage Federation is the united voice of numerous historic landmarks, museums, plantations and houses in the Charleston area. A mission-driven organization focused on educating, preserving and telling the authentic story through experiences, Charleston Heritage Federation prides itself on capturing the essence of the city’s rich history while fostering a deeper understanding of the Lowcountry. Members of Charleston Heritage Federation include Avery Research Center for African American History & Culture, Charleston Library Society, The Charleston Museum, Drayton Hall, Gibbes Museum of Art, Historic. For more information, visit www.explorecharleston.com.
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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351

Thursday, Oct 10, 2018


 
  
Multicultural Travel News – News From Madeira, Belize, Scotland, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Mexico, AmaWaterways and Anguilla
 
News Briefs:
  • Cultural Immersion Tours in Belize with the San Ignacio Resort Hotel
  • Tartan Weddings, A Scottish Destination Wedding Co Weaves Tradition and Romance into an Age-Old Custom
  • Gastronomy Master Class Series At Hotel Emma, San Antonio
  • The African-American story in Philadelphia’s Historic District
  • Vivo Resorts & Residences Debuts New Oaxacan-Inspired Residential Concept
  • Philadelphia’s Cultural & Historical Attractions Offer Spanish Guides
  • AmaWaterways Continues Sailings with a Latin Touch
  • Villa Viewfort Estate of Anguilla Reopens its Doors for Guests to Experience ‘Pure Anguilla,’ Showcasing Best of Anguillian Culture
Featured Article:
  • Madeira, Portugal: History and Culture, Nature, Wine and Gastronomy
News Briefs
Cultural Immersion Tours in Belize with the San Ignacio Resort Hotel 

Belize is recognized for its biodiversity, distinctive ecosystems and celebrating a variety of cultures. The San Ignacio Resort Hotel in Belize offers many activities that allow for visitors to immerse themselves into the culture through local tours. A San Ignacio town tour will provide you with an overview of the city and the famous farmers market. It is the ideal way to kick off your trip and become familiar with the area. The Maya Women’s Community Tour offers an opportunity to observe this group’s way of daily life as you cook tortillas and create pottery alongside them. The Mennonite Community Tour teaches participants about their role in providing Belize with a variety of agriculture products, as they live simply like the Amish. As cacao is a staple crop of the country, AJAW Chocolates offers an experience to take part in the chocolate making process from start to finish, allowing you to taste the product at each stage in the process. You can then go back to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel and do a chocolate scrub while you relax and learn the medicinal purposes of cacao. For reservations and more information on San Ignacio Resort Hotel and their cultural immersion tours visit www.sanignaciobelize.com or call 855-488-2624.

Tartan Weddings, A Scottish Destination Wedding Company Offering Couples Unique Packages, Weaves Tradition and Romance into an Age-Old Custom
Tartan Weddings is a destination wedding planning service that designs wedding experiences in historic castles of Scotland. Founded in 2018, Tartan Weddings was born out of a love for Scottish castles, traditions, and the incomparable beauty of the Scottish countryside. A native of Scotland, Founder Lisa Bauer decided to combine her event planning skills with knowledge of her home country to help guide couples to create the wedding of their dreams. Tartan Weddings strives to preserve Scottish wedding traditions such as: Quaich, handfasting, bagpipes, kilts, and many more. The new destination wedding company gives couples access to the most sought-after castles across the Scottish countryside while intertwining Scottish values and tradition. Lisa’s ties to her native country ensures a deeply personal approach as she guides her clients through all aspects of the wedding planning process. She brings her knowledge of Scottish wedding customs and traditions to the company; offering the bride and groom a truly authentic experience. For more information please visit TartanWeddings.com.
Gastronomy Master Class Series At Hotel Emma
The Pearl in San Antonio is hosting Olé San Antonio, a summer-long program celebrating San Antonio’s Spanish heritage in commemoration of the city’s 300th anniversary. As part of the program, Hotel Emma, the historic boutique hotel at the Pearl, has prepared a series of six Master Classes honoring some of the essential flavors of Spain: olive oil, jamón (Spanish ham), tinned fish, salt and spices, wine and sherry, and cheese. Each event in the series will include a ticketed session facilitated by experts and makers of the particular product. Guests will enjoy (depending on theme) a deep dive into the culture, economy, and trends of the product and an expertly guided tasting opportunity. Additionally, the series will feature a casual tasting at Larder, the property’s fine grocery store, and at Supper, Chef John Brand will create a special tasting menu highlighting the various uses, applications, and flavors of the spotlighted product. Additionally, in honor of San Antonio’s Tricentennial, Hotel Emma is offering a special rate now through September 16, 2018. The special, 300 years, 300 dollars, features rates starting at $300, plus complimentary valet parking. For more information and to make a reservation, visit www.thehotelemma.com.
The African-American story in Philadelphia’s Historic District
Philadelphia’s Historic District, the site of the original city and often called America’s most historic square mile, reveals early chapters in the nation’s history, including the challenges, injustices, accomplishments and contributions of Africans and African-Americans. The district is home to the 200+-year-old founding church of the two-million-strong African Methodist Episcopal church, Mother Bethel A.M.E., and The African American Museum in Philadelphia, the country’s first museum dedicated solely to African-American history. Philadelphia’s Historic District is the place to discover African-American religious, cultural and social traditions, historical landmarks and exhibitions and more. Museums & Historic Sites include: The African American Museum in Philadelphia, Independence Seaport Museum’s permanent exhibition, Tides of Freedom: African Presence on the Delaware River, The Liberty Bell Center, The Museum of the American Revolution, The National Constitution Center (NCC), National Liberty Museum, The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation and Washington Square. Churches include: Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and St. George’s United Methodist Church. Historical Markers & Stories include: markers for the Free African Society, James Forten, The Pennsylvania Slave Trade, London Coffee House, Joseph and Amy Cassey, Pennsylvania Abolition Society, Pennsylvania Hall and Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and Once Upon A Nation’s Storytelling Benches at 13 locations around Philadelphia’s Historic DistrictPhiladelphia’s Historic District campaign, from VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, showcases the city’s incomparable place in early American history and the still vibrant neighborhoods of Old City, Society Hill and the Delaware River Waterfront. The campaign celebrates America’s most historic square mile in the country’s first World Heritage City, as designated by the Organization of World Heritage Cities. Funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development and H.F. (Gerry) Lenfest, the initiative runs through September 2018. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, visitors can engage with costumed history makers, hear stories of the real people of independence and take part in colonial reenactments. And every day of the year, they can tour, shop, dine and drink in the area just like the founding fathers and mothers once did. For more information about all there is to see and do in Philadelphia’s Historic District, go to 

visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com.

Vivo Resorts & Residences Debuts New Oaxacan-Inspired Residential Concept
Vivo Resorts & Residences, Puerto Escondido’s premier luxury oceanfront hotel and real estate development, has debuted ‘Botanica,’ its newest spate of beach condominiums inspired by Oaxaca’s vibrant culture and unspoiled natural landscape. The debut continues Vivo’s steady growth on Mexico’s burgeoning Emerald Coast following a record-breaking year for the development. Botanicais defined by an oasis-like atmosphere of quiet privacy and oceanside beauty. Botanica’s Oaxacan-influenced design features lush gardens, tropical garden courtyards, ocean or mountain views from every room, landscaped islands and Vivo’s largest pools. Puerto Escondido is a growing port town experiencing an influx of incoming flight routes and interest from surfers, yet retains an authentic Mexican feel, making it the optimal choice for renters and buyers seeking tranquil tropics. The town has an atmosphere of authentic charm, where travelers can try indigenous treats in Puerto Escondido’s famous farmers’ market or in Ernesto’s, Vivo’s own farm-to-table restaurant with fresh Oaxacan dishes. For travelers seeking to further immerse themselves in the Mexican lifestyle, the resort offers Spanish lessons, in line with Vivo’s aim to integrate its activities into the community. Vivo also boasts an in-house charity, Vivo Foundation, that invests in ecological initiatives, construction projects, orphanage donations and improvements and agricultural programs that benefit the indigenous Puerto Escondido community. The resort also ensures it pays employees above standard. For more information visit www.vivoresorts.com.
Philadelphia’s Cultural & Historical Attractions Offer Spanish Guides
Spanish-speaking visitors to Philadelphia can feel truly welcomed at many of the region’s attractions, thanks to a wealth of bilingual docents, translated audio guides and multilingual written materials. Each year, more than two-and-a-half million domestic leisure visitors to Greater Philadelphia are of Hispanic/Latino origin (source: Econsult Solutions Inc./Longwoods International). Accordingly, the region’s historical and cultural sites cater to Spanish-speaking guests with Spanish guides and Spanish-speaking staff, among other offerings. History: Eastern State Penitentiary, Independence Hall, Congress Hall and Old City Hall, Independence Visitor Center (IVC), Liberty Bell Center, Museum of the American Revolution, National Constitution Center, National Museum of American Jewish History. Art & Culture: Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Reading Terminal Market. Tours: Philly By Night Double-Decker Bus Tour, Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours, Philadelphia Trolley Works. visitphilly.com
AmaWaterways Continues Sailings with a Latin Touch
Citing an uptick in Latin American travelers onboard its European cruises
AmaWaterways released the new line-up of special Spanish-friendly departures for 2018. Each of the Sailings with a Latin Touch will be hosted by a bilingual Cruise Manager, who will deliver briefings in both English and Spanish. Other services include a daily tour with an exclusive coach transfer and Spanish- speaking guide, along with the daily cruise programs in Spanish and Spanish menus during breakfast, lunch and dinner. “As we continue to welcome more Latin American guests onboard our ships each year, we are so pleased to offer these selected departures with special touches delivered in the language that they are most comfortable with.,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “We want to make sure our Spanish-speaking guests feel right at home and that we can provide them with the most exceptional and memorable river cruise experience possible.” Departures in 2018 include: Melodies of the Danube, August 17; Captivating Rhine, August 27; Iconic Christmas Markets, November 25; Christmas Markets on the Rhine, December 1. During these special sailings, guests will experience the high level of luxury for which AmaWaterways is known. A special treat onboard AmaWaterways’ ships is The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant – an intimate dining experience with an exquisite, multi-course tasting menu paired with hand-selected regional wines all at no additional cost. New for 2018 is the daily Sip & Sail complimentary cocktail hour.For more information on AmaWaterways’ Sailings with a Latin Touch, visit www.AmaWaterways.com or call (800) 626-0126. www.facebook.com/AmaWaterways @AmaWaterways
Villa Viewfort Estate of Anguilla Reopens its Doors for Guests to Experience ‘PureAnguilla,’ Showcasing Best of Anguillian Culture
ViewFort Estate of Anguilla, showcasing the best of Anguillian culture, cuisine and hospitality, owes its authenticity to a beautifully preserved 200-year old structure, framed by rock walls of a previous generation, one of the last remaining pieces of artisanal work of 19th century Anguilla. Set on the highest point on the island, now renovated and reopened since the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma last September, ViewFort Estate, has reemerged onto Anguilla’s luxury market, offering the island’s most elegant and historic setting. One of the native co-owners and proprietors of the private estate – Josephine Gumbs-Connor, from a multi-generational family from Anguilla – is most keen to share Anguillian heritage and history with their guests to help tell the story of this glorious island. Surrounded by breathtaking panoramic ocean frontage, this unique property exudes a casual elegance – a mixture of regal and rustic – which they call ‘Pure Anguilla’. Their goal is to bring forth an authentic Pure Anguilla feeling with carefully curated experiences that bring the island’s culture to life for guests, such as tours around the island and locally-infused gourmet meals from the Villa’s classically trained Chef. The property is an eclectic expression of the island’s spirit with 5-star appointments including an infinity pool and oversized outdoor hot-tubs. The Estate also encompasses 80 acres of forestry and beaches at Katouche and Little Bay where guests enjoy guided hiking trails, spelunking tours through its caves and water sports. Their foundation, Pure Anguilla Foundation, was started to provide immediate aid and resources to the island’s families and children during the storm. Contact INFO@viewfortanguilla.com, 264 497 8713, visit www.viewfortanguilla.com.
Featured Article
 

Madeira, Portugal: History and Culture, Nature, Wine and Gastronomy

Celebrating its 600th anniversary this coming year in 2019, Madeira is a vacation destination both unspoiled and up-to date. Contradictions in co-existence! An off-road open-air jeep tour takes you to areas of the island untouched by time, where farming on steep slopes continues as it has through the ages. Ride the modern cable car up the mountain to visit the Monte Palace Botanical Gardens, then have a seat on a man-powered old-fashioned wicker basket taboggan sled built for two for a ride down along stone streets. Choose lodging in the style of the traditional 16th century “quintas” (farmhouse inn) such as the Quinta do Furão on a cliff top in Santana on the northeast coast or stay at the 5-star Pestana Carlton Madeira, a luxurious and charming hotel in the city of Funchal, with a Ballroom for meetings and a cocktail lounge for live music listening and dancing.
Madeira, a destination not top of mind to American vacationers, I met only one other during my 6-night stay this past May, and she had a connection to the island — her great-grandmother was born here. More popular among European vacationers, indeed my hotel registration papers called me Frau Skriloff. I’m guessing the top countries travelers represent are those covered by the daily newspaper synopsis offered in the breakfast room The Good Morning News from Germany, from England, from France.
An island belonging to Portugal off the coast of Africa near Morocco, Madeira is reached via flights from Lisbon and the stopover package via TAP Airlines gave me a chance to include that city during my trip.
Among the top reasons travelers come to Madeira: nature, the climate, wine, gastronomy, history and culture and my itinerary for Multicultural Travel News focused equally on those.
Our full-day island jeep tour with Madeira Mountain Expeditions exposed us to a range of micro-climates around the island as the jeep climbed the 1818 meter high Pico do Arieiro, the highest point in Madeira, took us through Machico, where Portuguese sailors arrived in 1419, and into Canical, passing the Museu da Baleia (Whale museum) and the vineyards growing the table wine grape variety of Madeira wine called First Love.
Throughout the day we passed fields of crops — Madeira is known for growing and exporting bananas – and our driver/guide Angelo Dias told us about sugar cane and potatoes and pointed out the mandarinas and the loquasts not to mention the (highly poisonous) Foxglove (digitalis) flowers.
Riding through the heavily forested area, the “abundant wood” that gave Madeira its name, taking in the scent of the Eucalyptus trees, I could feel us step back in time as our off-road capable jeep climbed the vertical landscapes.
What does Madeira remind you of? My well-traveled jeep tour companions asked ourselves, this being the first visit for all of us. Is it more like San Diego for its climate and spotlight on outdoor activities such as mountain biking? or Capri, an island with similar climbs? Or is it like Hawaii, another volcanic island?
Madeira is unique and deserves to be on the radar of world travelers….Vacation, business and incentive travelers! Madeira Mountain Expeditions is the #1 company for incentive travel Angelo told us and has carried out programs for companies such as Pirelli Tires, Bayer, and Volkswagen, as well as American sports doctors’ meetings.
Other forays into the great outdoors during my visit: a 3- hour dolphin watching catamaran boat ride with VMT Madeira (and we saw plenty!) and a mountain bike excursion plus Levada walk with EPIC Madeira. The Levada walks, walking paths alongside the man-made irrigation canals that criss cross the island are a popular activity and Epic Madeira offers excursions of varying levels of difficulty. They also offer something called coasteering, which I would call cliff jumping and canyoning, which I would call waterfall rappelling, but as luck would have it, (wink) I was busy the day my group did that.
Being a city girl, I’m more comfortable with the great indoors so luckily the 17-acre Monte Palace Botanical Gardens – which I was advised to allow two hours for my visit — also had a museum, featuring the Museum of Minerals. I never realized until that day, but I like minerals more than flora (but both less than fauna) as I spent a good part of my time in the Museum, which offers a close-up look at the semiprecious and precious gems in their natural settings (Plus ok, the wifi worked best inside the museums.)
Interesting fact I learned in the park museums: Darwin was an enthusiast of Madeira before he knew about the Galapagos!
Other museums I visited during my trip focused on the heritage, history and culture of the island.
  • Museu de Arte Sacra – a fine collection of Flemish paintings and Sacred silver belonging to the church, in an 18thcentury building. (Museum opened in 1955). A highlight for me: the top floor watch tower with its panoramic view of sea
  • Bordal Hand Craft Embroidery museum and store – Visited the museum on the top floors with a guide, learning how the beautiful designs were created, inspired by flowers and nature, and watched the women work today as in the past, using antique stamps and pattern books. They offer free embroidery lessons!: learn 6 stitches during a class offered every Thursday
  • Fabrica Santo Antonio – since 1983, this 6th generation, family run factory, produces biscuits, jams, candies with the flavors of Madeira, (eucalyptus, sugar cane, fennel, among others,) cookies, and, now, gluten free ginger biscuits and almond scones. Tasted honey cakes and left with a bag of eucalyptus candies.
  • Madeira Film Experience – I made a beeline for the Marina shopping center to see this 5 euro 25 minute movie about Madeira’s history. I’m a sucker for these introductory films and this one didn’t disappoint.
  • Madeira Story Center – Likewise this mini museum in Old Town is a diorama version of the introductory film. Life-size figures, animatronic ready, tell the story as you wind your way along the path thru history of the island from its volcanic origins, discovery of the archipelago, to modern day. I wished I had time to end with a meal or drink on the outdoor terrace overlooking the sea and the cable car!
Of course, the not-to-be missed visit is to a Madeira Wine Museum, the product most associated with the island. At Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company, our 45 minute tour covered the history of the Blandy family, the company, the wine and famous fans of the wine, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Princess Margaret whose letters of appreciation were on display. Our Portuguese guide’s English was so good, my fellow tour-takers, from England were heard guessing what part of the country she was from.
Indeed, everyone we met spoke English and particularly those in the hospitality industry. The tour, of course, ended with a tasting.
The Madeira wine connection with the United States goes back to George Washington, who toasted The Declaration of Independence with Madeira wine and Jefferson also was a fan.
One small taste was not enough so one morning I joined a Discover Madeira Food & Wine walking tour from Funchal center through Old Town. In 2 ½  hours we made 9 stops, eating our way around town, trying the scabbard fish, the chocolate, ginger cookies, honey cake and drinking beer, Madeira wine and “poncha” a high potent rum drink with cane juice sugar and honey. The tour ended on the rooftop terrace of the Mercado dos Lavradores in Funchal where we had our cake and fennel tea, from the tree that gave “Funchal” its name.
Sofia Maul was our tour guide and she too spoke flawless English, in fact she was raised bilingual, learning English from her grandmother. On her tours, she noted, that while North Americans make up 2-5 % of visitors to Madeira, they make up 40-60 percent of her tour.
Madeira’s tourism official Luis Gonçalves, in the Madeira Promotions Bureau, told me about the growth of visitors from North America, an increasing part of their tourism goal of 3.5-5 million visitors per year.
Last, but by no means least, gastronomy was a highlight of the visit.

Notable meals were at these restaurants of Madeira: Restaurante Chalet Vicente, walking distance from the Carlton Pestana, (Fish soup in a bread bowl, chicken piri piri and Espetada) and

Santa Maria Restaurante (Fish & prawn skewers and sushi), as well as Riso Risottoria del Mundo and Quinta do Furão for the accompanying view: and O Lagar for the folklore show and mini museum and where every table had a skewer set up for their popular espetada (beef skewers) offering.

By Lisa Skriloff, Multicultural Travel News

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About This Newsletter
Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.
Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We cover cities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.
 
Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.
For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.
 
Lisa Skriloff, Editor
Multicultural Travel News
Multicultural Entertainment News
Multicultural Marketing News
Dance Travel News
Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc.
212-242-3351

Monday, Aug 08, 2018


Multicultural Travel News – News From New York, Ireland, Washington and More
 
   
 
Multicultural Travel News 
 
In This Issue:     
 
News Briefs:
 
Multicultural Travel News Briefs:
 
New York City Announced New Family Ambassador in its First-Ever Bilingual Tourism Campaign
Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC & Company, New York City’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organization, together with Nickelodeon, announced Dora is returning as the seventh Official NYC Family Ambassador. The announcement was made in Orlando, Florida during IPW, the travel industry’s premier international marketplace, where NYC & Company’s president and CEO Fred Dixon was joined by Dora. As part of the yearlong campaign, the world’s most beloved explorer, Dora, will encourage family travel to the City’s five boroughs by highlighting New York City as a family-friendly destination. For the first time ever, NYC & Company’s family ambassador program will include English and Spanish content that features activities and destinations in the five boroughs for families to enjoy. A global phenomenon, Dora has crossed social, racial and language boundaries and stands as a hero and friend to millions of children around the world. The Official NYC Family Ambassador campaign will be promoted through out-of-home media in the five boroughs and in Buffalo through NYC & Company’s new city-to-city tourism partnership; social media engagement using the hashtag #nycgofamily; TV commercials running in NYC taxicabs; and digital media targeting the City’s top regional, domestic and Spanish-speaking markets. For more details on the Dora Family Ambassador campaign, visit nycgo.com/family.

Low Cost Airline Volaris Inaugurates Service from JFK – Continues Focus on the Hispanic Market
Low cost carrier Volaris, serving more destinations in Mexico than any other airline, inaugurates service from JFK on July 15th  as it continues to serve its core audience, the Hispanic Market. Miguel Aguiñiga Rodríguez, Senior Manager Mex-US/Sales & Marketing for Volaris,  in an interview with Multicultural Travel News, said that the “visiting family and relatives” market (VFR) is their key market. For that reason, since the airline was launched 9 years ago, he noted, they have been doing research to identify the largest Mexican-American population areas to establish routes to serve the VFR market.  Guadalajara is a principal destination because of the opportunity it presents to this  market as drive time from Guadalajara is only 2 to 6 hours to most key cities such as Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and Morelia, among others, destinations that are key for the Mexican ex-patriots living in the US. The airline also targets second and third generation Mexican-Americans to encourage them to visit and learn about their culture and food.The Volaris outreach to the Hispanic population is aligned with the Mexican Tourism board’s campaign with the theme “Mis Raices” targeting the Hispanic Market which will launch this August. The current “Live it to Believe it” campaign highlights the culture and food of Mexico and promotes a “Wine & Tequila Route” and “Mole Route.” The “Thousand Flavors of Mole” route encourages travelers to visit the regions of Mexico City, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca and Puebla where the famous “mole poblano” originates. The tequila route includes the city of Guadalajara, the capital of Mariachi music, itself declared as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Volaris marketing outreach includes alliances  with the various regional  Mexican Federations around the US, as a  key way to reach their main target —  Mexicans in the US with ties to family in Mexico. Knowing that Hispanics overindex in social media usage, Volaris is also focused on utilizing Facebook where they currently have over 1,300,00 likes and Twitter with over a million followers.  And in other milestone news, earlier this month Volaris announced it transported its 50 Millionth customer. www.volaris.com

Vagabond Adventure Tours of Ireland and their sister company, Driftwood Irish Journeys of Discovery, offer trips off the beaten path. Become a Shepherd for a Day on New Kerry UnCorked Tour – Kerry UnCorked is a new immersive and insightful eight day trip from Vagabond that distills the best of Counties Kerry and Cork in Ireland’s Southwest. It ranges from a day spent working with a shepherd on a classic hill farm to cycling in Killarney National Park. There’s horseback riding on the Dingle Peninsula and even a chance try surfing along one of the Southwest’s most beautiful beaches. There are two nights each in the towns of Dingle and Kinsale, the latter Ireland’s most famous gastronomic village. Weekly departures May through September, 2016 details at  VagabondExperience Ireland through Irish Eyes – Enjoy a hands-on cooking demonstration of traditional Irish recipes on a Vagabond trip. Meet local artisan food producers and craftsmen and see them at work at their farms and studios. Join in or observe a local sporting team’s training session. Meet local musicians at traditional seissuns at local pubs throughout the country. For more information, visit vagabondtoursofireland.com.

Six Weeks of Neighborhood Celebrations in Washington, DC
Cultural Tourism DC returned to its roots during September and October with more than 50 unique tours of the District of Columbia during WalkingTown DC.Cultural Tourism DC continues to serve as a catalyst for offering authentic experiences in the District of Columbia providing their programs through the generosity of people and companies that care deeply about the District of Columbia and local history. All of the educational programs are offered free of charge. Cultural Tourism DC’s Neighborhood Heritage Trail program grows this fall when two neighborhoods launch their new trails. An East of the River View: Anacostia Heritage Trail was launched October 3. At Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail has its kickoff planned for Saturday, October 17 at 11 a.m. in northwest Washington. PorchFest lets residents showcase their neighborhood with music and art and gives visitors a chance to roam and learn about the area, its amenities, architecture, and even the potential for living there -simply by following the music from porch-to-porch. Previous events included: Adams Morgan PorchFest, Rhode Island Avenue Main Street For more information visit www.culturaltourismdc.org.

New-York Historical Society to Transform Fourth Floor with New Women’s History Center & Reinvisioned Collection Display
The New-York Historical Society has revealed plans for the transformation of the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on the fourth floor of its home on Central Park West, which will be redesigned to feature highlights from its collection, as well as a new center for scholarship focused on women’s history. The centerpiece of the reimagined fourth floor will be New-York Historical’s preeminent collection of Tiffany lamps, displayed in a sparkling glass gallery designed by architect Eva Jiřičná. Renovation of the fourth floor has begun and the space is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017. The Center for the Study of Women’s History will be an educational resource for scholars, students, and the public, as well as a venue for discussion and exchange focused on women’s history. The annual Diane L. and Adam E. Max Conference in Women’s History will convene scholars and thinkers to discuss topics concerning women’s issues and their relevance to broader movements. The inaugural conference will take place in March 2016 and will focus on the female-dominated garment industry. The Center will also co-host an online course on women and work, taught by Columbia University historian Alice Kessler-Harris. In addition, it will develop educational resources and opportunities for K-12 students on-site and online, enabling them to engage with primary sources and curricula focused on the history of women’s labor and social reform in New York.
About This Newsletter      

 

Multicultural Travel News newsletter (MTN) covers travel news of interest to ethnic and niche travelers and those who market to them. We write about destinations that interest multicultural travelers or have outreach campaigns to travelers of Hispanic, African American, Asian American and other cultural backgrounds; women; LGBT travelers and people with disabilities.

Multicultural Travel News is also written for leisure and business travelers looking for what to see and do and for marketing executives interested in ideas, best practices and the business case for targeting so-called “minority” travelers. We covercities and countries, hotels, airlines, cruise lines, convention and visitor bureaus, tour operators and other travel marketers with a multicultural angle. Multicultural Travel News is written and edited by Lisa Skriloff.

Multicultural Travel News is published by Multicultural Marketing Resources, Inc. (MMR). To view past editions click here.For a free subscription to Multicultural Travel News and its sister publication, Multicultural Marketing News, sign up here.

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Friday, Oct 10, 2015


Princess Cruises Announces “Sabor Latino” Theme on Select 7-Day Caribbean Cruises

Princess Cruises has announced a series of Latin-themed cruise itineraries on 7-day Caribbean cruises on two Caribbean Princess sailings in July 2019. The “Sabor Latino” themed cruises promise to deliver the Caribbean cruise experience, tailored to the preferences of the Latin American guest, with late night DJ dance parties, an onboard Spanish-speaking host, shore excursions guided in Spanish, and Latin-inspired cocktails. On the first “Sabor Latino” voyage, Caribbean Princess will sail roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale on July 13, 2019 for an Eastern Caribbean cruise itinerary featuring breathtaking beaches and old world charm, visiting Princess Cays — Princess Cruises’ private island experience in the Bahamas – plus calls in St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Then on July 20, 2019, Caribbean Princess will sail roundtrip from Ft. Lauderdale on a Western Caribbean cruise itinerary featuring ancient Mayan ruins, eco-adventures, and gorgeous beaches while calling in Grand Cayman, Roatán, Belize City, and Cozumel. Latin-inspired culinary menu items from Argentine chef Gustavo Schneider paired with special guest speaker Bill Esparza round out the “Sabor Latino” menu. Exclusively on the July 20th voyage, Esparza – a James Beard award-winner, author, and food TV personality – will speak on how Latin American culinary trends have permeated throughout Los Angeles and culinary anecdotes from his time as a professional saxophone player on the road in Latin America. Select Spanish-language films, Latin American television channels, plus Spanish-language magic entertainment from special guest Pablo Pol, Spanish-language stand-up comedy from Mariano Potel, and performances from singer-songwriter Yaire all together provide an impressive entertainment lineup. Over the last few years, Caribbean Princess has been at the forefront of major fleet revitalizations, with many family-oriented features and amenities including breakthrough technology, family accommodations, new dining experiences and entertainment offerings. General information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor or by visiting the company’s website at http://www.princess.com/.

Monday, Mar 03, 2019

 

Madeira: History and Culture, Nature, The Climate, Wine, Gastronomy

Celebrating its 600th anniversary this coming year in 2019, Madeira is a vacation destination both unspoiled and up-to date. Contradictions in co-existence! An off-road open-air jeep tour takes you to areas of the island untouched by time, where farming on steep slopes continues as it has through the ages. Ride the modern cable car up the mountain to visit the Monte Palace Botanical Gardens, then have a seat on a man-powered old-fashioned wicker basket taboggan sled built for two for a ride down along stone streets. Choose lodging in the style of the traditional 16th century “quintas” (farmhouse inn) such as the Quinta do Furão on a cliff top in Santana on the northeast coast or stay at the 5-star Pestana Carlton Madeira, a luxurious and charming hotel in the city of Funchal, with a Ballroom for meetings and a cocktail lounge for live music listening and dancing.

Madeira, a destination not top of mind to American vacationers, I met only one other during my 6-night stay this past May, and she had a connection to the island — her great-grandmother was born here. More popular among European vacationers, indeed my hotel registration papers called me Frau Skriloff. I’m guessing the top countries travelers represent are those covered by the daily newspaper synopsis offered in the breakfast room The Good Morning News from Germany, from England, from France.

An island belonging to Portugal off the coast of Africa near Morocco, Madeira is reached via flights from Lisbon and the stopover package via TAP Airlines gave me a chance to include that city during my trip.

Among the top reasons travelers come to Madeira: nature, the climate, wine, gastronomy, history and culture and my itinerary for Multicultural Travel News focused equally on those.

Our full-day island jeep tour withMadeira Mountain Expeditions exposed us to a range of micro-climates around the island as the jeep climbed the 1818 meter high Pico do Arieiro, the highest point in Madeira, took us through Machico, where Portuguese sailors arrived in 1419, and into Canical, passing the Museu da Baleia (Whale museum) and the vineyards growing the table wine grape variety of Madeira wine called First Love.

Throughout the day we passed fields of crops — Madeira is known for growing and exporting bananas – and our driver/guide Angelo Dias told us about sugar cane and potatoes and pointed out the mandarinas and the loquasts not to mention the (highly poisonous) Foxglove (digitalis) flowers.

Riding through the heavily forested area, the “abundant wood” that gave Madeira its name, taking in the scent of the Eucalyptus trees, I could feel us step back in time as our off-road capable jeep climbed the vertical landscapes.

What does Madeira remind you of? My well-traveled jeep tour companions asked ourselves, this being the first visit for all of us. Is it more like San Diego for its climate and spotlight on outdoor activities such as mountain biking? or Capri, an island with similar climbs? Or is it like Hawaii, another volcanic island?

Madeira is unique and deserves to be on the radar of world travelers….Vacation, business and incentive travelers! Madeira Mountain Expeditions is the #1 company for incentive travel Angelo told us and has carried out programs for companies such as Pirelli Tires, Bayer, and Volkswagen, as well as American sports doctors’ meetings.

Other forays into the great outdoors during my visit: a 3- hour dolphin watching catamaran boat ride with VMT Madeira (and we saw plenty!) and a mountain bike excursion plus Levada walk with EPIC Madeira. The Levada walks, walking paths alongside the man-made irrigation canals that criss cross the island are a popular activity and Epic Madeira offers excursions of varying levels of difficulty. They also offer something called coasteering, which I would call cliff jumping and canyoning, which I would call waterfall rappelling, but as luck would have it, (wink) I was busy the day my group did that.

Being a city girl, I’m more comfortable with the great indoors so luckily the 17-acre Monte Palace Botanical Gardens – which I was advised to allow two hours for my visit — also had a museum, featuring the Museum of Minerals. I never realized until that day, but I like minerals more than flora (but both less than fauna) as I spent a good part of my time in the Museum, which offers a close-up look at the semiprecious and precious gems in their natural settings (Plus ok, the wifi worked best inside the museums.)

Interesting fact I learned in the park museums: Darwin was an enthusiast of Madeira before he knew about the Galapagos!

Other museums I visited during my trip focused on the heritage, history and culture of the island.

  • Museu de Arte Sacra – a fine collection of Flemish paintings and Sacred silver belonging to the church, in an 18thcentury building. (Museum opened in 1955). A highlight for me: the top floor watch tower with its panoramic view of sea
  • Bordal Hand Craft Embroidery museum and store – Visited the museum on the top floors with a guide, learning how the beautiful designs were created, inspired by flowers and nature, and watched the women work today as in the past, using antique stamps and pattern books. They offer free embroidery lessons!: learn 6 stitches during a class offered every Thursday
  • Fabrica Santo Antonio – since 1983, this 6th generation, family run factory, produces biscuits, jams, candies with the flavors of Madeira, (eucalyptus, sugar cane, fennel, among others,) cookies, and, now, gluten free ginger biscuits and almond scones. Tasted honey cakes and left with a bag of eucalyptus candies.
  • Madeira Film Experience – I made a beeline for the Marina shopping center to see this 5 euro 25 minute movie about Madeira’s history. I’m a sucker for these introductory films and this one didn’t disappoint.
  • Madeira Story Center – Likewise this mini museum in Old Town is a diorama version of the introductory film. Life-size figures, animatronic ready, tell the story as you wind your way along the path thru history of the island from its volcanic origins, discovery of the archipelago, to modern day. I wished I had time to end with a meal or drink on the outdoor terrace overlooking the sea and the cable car!

Of course, the not-to-be missed visit is to a Madeira Wine Museum, the product most associated with the island. At Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company, our 45 minute tour covered the history of the Blandy family, the company, the wine and famous fans of the wine, including Winston Churchill, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Princess Margaret whose letters of appreciation were on display. Our Portuguese guide’s English was so good, my fellow tour-takers, from England were heard guessing what part of the country she was from.

Indeed, everyone we met spoke English and particularly those in the hospitality industry. The tour, of course, ended with a tasting.

The Madeira wine connection with the United States goes back to George Washington, who toasted The Declaration of Independence with Madeira wine and Jefferson also was a fan.

One small taste was not enough so one morning I joined a Discover Madeira Food & Wine walking tour from Funchal center through Old Town. In 2 ½  hours we made 9 stops, eating our way around town, trying the scabbard fish, the chocolate, ginger cookies, honey cake and drinking beer, Madeira wine and “poncha” a high potent rum drink with cane juice sugar and honey. The tour ended on the rooftop terrace of the Mercado dos Lavradores in Funchal where we had our cake and fennel tea, from the tree that gave “Funchal” its name.

Sofia Maul was our tour guide and she too spoke flawless English, in fact she was raised bilingual, learning English from her grandmother. On her tours, she noted, that while North Americans make up 2-5 % of visitors to Madeira, they make up 40-60 percent of her tour.

Madeira’s tourism official Luis Gonçalves, in the Madeira Promotions Bureautold me about the growth of visitors from North America, an increasing part of their tourism goal of 3.5-5 million visitors per year.

Last, but by no means least, gastronomy was a highlight of the visit.

Notable meals were at these restaurants of Madeira: Restaurante Chalet Vicente, walking distance from the Carlton Pestana, (Fish soup in a bread bowl, chicken piri piri and Espetada) and Santa Maria Restaurante (Fish & prawn skewers and sushi), as well as Riso Risottoria del Mundo and Quinta do Furão for the accompanying view: and O Lagar for the folklore show and mini museum and where every table had a skewer set up for their popular espetada (beef skewers) offering.

Learn more about visiting Madeira at http://www.visitmadeira.pt/en-gb/homepage and https://www.madeiraallyear.com/en/ and the TAP Stopover offer at https://portugalstopover.flytap.com/USA/enus/stopover/about-stopover and 
www.flytap.com
.

By Lisa Skriloff, Multicultural Travel News

 
Visit the fish market, ride the cable car up to the Monte Palace Gardens, take the wicker toboggan down. #visitMadeira @visitportugal @visitmadeira
What we ate during our 9-stop food and wine walking tour with Sofia of Madeira wine tours #visitmadeira @visitMadeira @visitportugal@winetoursmadeira
 
Restaurants of Madeira: O Lagar and Riso Risottoria del Mundo #visitMadeira@visitmadeira
 
Fish soup in a bread bowl, chicken piri piri and Espetada at #chaletvicente Restaurante Chalet Vicente walking distance from #carltonpestana@visitmadeira #visitMadeira @visitportugal
 
When you set off on your Levada walk to the Balcoes overlook first study the map and see where the restaurant is. Rest assured that the level of difficulty is easy enough that Liliana carries her fuzzy feather handbag. @epicmadeira #visitmadeira @visitMadeira
 
Our Epic Madeira @epicmadeiraouting had 3 parts- advanced then an easy bike trail then a Levada walk. If you want to skip the advanced dirt road biking part then hang with driver/guide Liliana over Portuguese coffee and garlic bread. #visitmadeira @visitMadeira @visitportugal
 
Epic Madeira offers “canyoning” (what I would call waterfall rappelling), coasteering (cliff diving), mountain biking and Levada walks at your level. Here’s guide Fabio leading the mountain bike tour with Doug downhill on that rocky dirt path. Level: experienced! @epicmadeira #visitmadeira @visitMadeira
 
History, tour and tasting at Blandys Madeira Wine Company #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MulticulturalTravelNews
 
Tour of Bordal Hand embroidery store and factory and my purchase. #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MulticulturalTravelNews
 
fabrica santo antonio since 1893. Fennel candies. Sugar cane Honey cake. #glutenfree Ginger cookies Tour with Luis Gonçalves
#visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MulticulturalTravelNews
 
View from museu de arte sacra. Inside Flemish painting collection and sacred silver. #atmasf #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MulticulturalTravelNews @masfunchal
 
Fish and prawn skewers and sushi at Santa Maria in Old Town Funchal #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MulticulturalTravelNews @visitportugal
 
What a view at lunch stop at Quinta do Furão during our Island Jeep tour with @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland #MulticulturalTravelNews @visitportugal
 
Spotted the Quintas (traditional houses) during our Island Jeep tour with @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions and a Barbie sized one at Quinta do Furão in Santana #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland @visitportugal @tapairportugal #MulticulturalTravelNews
 
This is a Levada (water canal.) This is the Levada walk. @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland @visitportugal@tapairportugal
 
Open roof photo safari! Stand up and take your shot -Island tour by Jeep with @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland
 
“Ready to go off-road?” Island tour by Jeep with @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland
 
Next a short walk on our Island tour by Jeep with @madeira_mountain_expeditions Madeira Mountain Expeditions #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland
 
Beautiful vistas on Island tour by Jeep with @madeira_mountain_expeditionsMadeira Mountain Expeditons #visitmadeira @visitMadeira #MadeiraAllYear #MadeiraIsland
 
Pools, dancing, warm welcome at Hotel Carlton Pestana #PestanaHotels #visitmadeira @visitMadeira
 
VMT Madeira dolphin & whale watching trip. This catamaran. These dolphins. #visitMadeira @vmtMadeira @VisitMadeira
 
How to do #Lisbon#12HourLayover. We have snails and live Fado music. @tapairportugal @visitportugal
 
How to do #Lisbon#12HourLayover. Alfama vistas @tapairportugal @visitportugal
 
How to do #Lisbon#12HourLayover. Amazing lunch at  @belcanto_joseavillez Exploding clams (the green yolks) edible rocks and many more surprises @tapairportugal @visitportugal
 
How to do #Lisbon#12HourLayover. Then try your luck at Belcanto. Showed up without a reservation at a restaurant where you have to ring the doorbell. Find the tuna handroll among the flowers ! @tapairportugal @visitportugal@belcanto_joseavillez
 
How to do #Lisbon#12HourLayover. First run to Luvaria Ulisses, get fitted for leather gloves; buy two pair. @tapairportugal @visitportugal
 

Mentioned in this article:

Pestana Carlton Madeira

@PestanaHotels

https://www.pestana.com/en/hotel/pestana-carlton-madeira?utm_source=google-my-business&utm_medium=organicsearch&utm_campaign=pestana-carlton-madeira

Quinta do Furão

@quintadofurao

https://www.quintadofurao.com/en-gb/homepage.aspx

Santa Maria Restaurante

http://www.santamariafunchal.com

O Lagar

http://www.olagar.com.pt

Riso Risottoria del Mundo

http://riso-fx.com/pt/

Restaurante Chalet Vicente

http://www.chaletvicente.com/restaurante/

Monte Palace Gardens

http://montepalace.com/desktop/

Museum of Minerals

http://montepalace.com/desktop/?sid=19&lang=en

Madeira Mountain Expeditions

@madexpeditions

http://www.mex.pt

Wine Tours Madeira

@winetoursmadeira

http://www.discoveringmadeira.com/madeira-wine-tours

EPIC Madeira

@epicmadeira

http://www.epicmadeira.com

VMT Madeira

@vmtMadeira

http://www.vmtmadeira.com

Blandys Madeira Wine Company

@BlandysWine

http://www.blandys.com

Bordal Hand Craft Embroidery museum and store

@Bordal_Bordados

https://www.bordal.pt/en/

Fabrica Santo Antonio

@StoFabrica

http://www.fabricastoantonio.com/enu/index.php/en/

Museu de Arte Sacra

@masfunchal

#atmasf

http://www.masf.pt

Taboggan sled

http://www.carreirosdomonte.com/v2/en/index.php

Madeira Film Experience

https://www.madeirafilmexperience.com/

Madeira Story Center

http://www.madeirastorycentre.com/en/museum-madeira-story-centre

Lisbon Recommendations:

Restaurante Belcanto

@belcanto_joseavillez

http://belcanto.pt/en/

Luvaria Ulisses

http://www.luvariaulisses.com

TAP Air Portugal

@tapairportugal

https://www.flytap.com/en-gb/

https://portugalstopover.flytap.com/USA/enus/stopover/about-stopover

Visit Portugal

@visitportugal

https://www.visitportugal.com/en

Visit Madeira

@visitmadeira

http://www.visitmadeira.pt/en-gb/homepage

Discover Madeira

https://www.madeiraallyear.com/en/

Monday, Jun 06, 2018


AmaWaterways River Cruises Introduces Sailings with a Latin Touch with Bilingual Cruise Managers, Spanish-speaking Tour Guides

AMAWATERWAYS INTRODUCES EXPANDED RANGE OF

SPANISH-FRIENDLY SAILINGS FOR 2018 SEASON

Spanish-speaking Guests Will Enjoy Briefings Hosted by Bilingual Cruise Managers and Daily Tours with Spanish-speaking Guides

Citing an uptick in Latin American travelers onboard its European cruises AmaWaterways released the new line-up of special Spanish-friendly departures for 2018.  Each of the ten Sailings with a Latin Touch will be hosted by a bilingual Cruise Manager, who will deliver briefings in both English and Spanish. Other services include a daily tour with an exclusive coach transfer and Spanish- speaking guide, along with the daily cruise programs in Spanish and Spanish menus during breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“As we continue to welcome more Latin American guests onboard our ships each year, we are so pleased to offer these selected departures with special touches delivered in the language that they are most comfortable with.,” said Kristin Karst, executive vice president and co-owner of AmaWaterways.  “We want to make sure our Spanish-speaking guests feel right at home and that we can provide them with the most exceptional and memorable river cruise experience possible.”

Sailings with a Latin Touch will be available on ten departures in 2018 onboard a variety of popular itineraries:

  • Melodies of the Danube, April 20, August 17
  • Enchanting Rhine, May 12
  • Legendary Danube, July 14
  • Taste of Bordeaux, August 23
  • Captivating Rhine, August 27, September 10
  • Paris & Normandy, October 11
  • Iconic Christmas Markets, November 25
  • Christmas Markets on the Rhine, December 1

During these special sailings, guests will experience the high level of luxury for which AmaWaterways is known – including spacious staterooms, wide variety of included tours, world-class dining, award winning service and amenities like a heated pool with a swim-up bar or whirlpool, fitness and massage rooms and hair salon. Guests will enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ships and Entertainment on Demand systems in each stateroom with the latest movies, a music library and more. A special treat onboard AmaWaterways’ ships is The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant – an intimate dining experience with an exquisite, multi-course tasting menu paired with hand-selected regional wines all at no additional cost. Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks are available with lunch and dinner, complimentary bottled water is provided daily in all staterooms and new for 2018 is the daily Sip & Sail complimentary cocktail hour.

For more information on AmaWaterways’ Sailings with a Latin Touch, visit www.AmaWaterways.com or call (800) 626-0126.

www.facebook.com/AmaWaterways

@AmaWaterways

About AmaWaterways

A family-owned company celebrating 15 years on the river, AmaWaterways offers unforgettable river cruises with 20 ships that sail Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhone, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro rivers, Southeast Asia’s Mekong and Africa’s Chobe River. The company is renowned for its innovative stateroom design featuring unique “twin balconies”; its wide choice of included shore excursions featuring biking and hiking options for the active traveler; and its award-winning dining – including The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant as well as complimentary fine wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. Modern, spacious and tastefully decorated, each ship carries less than 164 guests and features onboard amenities such as hair and massage salons and a fitness room and many have heated outdoor swimming pools with swim-up bars.  AmaWaterways leads the river cruise industry with a variety of themed sailings and brand relationships, offering group or chartered sailings geared towards active travelers and families.

With the highest-rated ships in Europe according to the 2016 edition of Berlitz: River Cruising in Europe, AmaWaterways has received countless honors and accolades including 2016 Cruise Critics Editors’ Pick Award as “Best River Cruise Line” and Town & Country River Cruise Awards as “Best Overall,” “Best For Food,” “Best For Onboard Activities” and “Best For On-Shore Activities.”

Tuesday, Nov 14, 2017


Trip Report: Dublin-Tullamore-Galway #NoRentalCar Sept/October 2017

A trip report with day by day itinerary, recommendations and links, useful for others visiting these cities and traveling between them by train and bus.

If I were to choose keywords to characterize our trip I would highlight #no rental car and our themes of #dancing, #dining and #distilleries.

We also like to walk a lot, get around by foot rather than metro or taxi, with my personal best of 25,000 steps – as tracked on the iphone Pacer app – on a vacation day.

Pre-trip checklist: Check the weather – http://www.met.ie/; reserve key restaurant reservations in each city on their websites or using http://www.opentable.ie/‎. We also meant to pre-trip do the following but did none of these: Download mytaxi app, find a Hop on Hop Off coupon online, book key tours at attractions in advance

Dublin – 4 Nights

Wed Sept 20 – Airport arrival from overnight flight from the States – bus transfer to city (Bus 747 to Christ Church Cathedra stop)

Hotel check in Handels Hotel Temple Bar www.thekeycollection.ie/handelshotel.html 16 – 18 Fishamble Street.

They had a record of my email requesting a room with a view of the river. But our room, of course, wasn’t available at our early arrival so we walked over for Breakfast at the adorable Queen of Tarts main restaurant. http://www.queenoftarts.ie First of many Full Irish breakfasts.

From there we walked along the River path to the Guinness Storehouse and luckily we were able to have immediate entry. (Passed the Brazen Head Pub – oldest pub in Dublin – along the way but saved our visit for another day.) At the Guinness Storehouse (self-guided tour) I liked the advertising display of Guinness slogans and characters and TV commercials over the years, the photo booth and the view from the Gravity Bar where we enjoyed our free glass of beer. https:/…tickets

Returned to the hotel to nap which is when I became aware of the construction noise and church bells chiming every 15 minutes. The room faced the front of the hotel and I did see a sliver of the river but since it faced the street the sound of jack hammers and chain saws prevented any nap. Surely they would be stopping work by 5 pm, right?

Dinner – Vintage Cocktail Club 15 Crown Alley in Temple Bar waking distance from the hotel. Had booked on opentable weeks earlier. With opentable because you can easily book in advance and cancel easily online if your plans change.

The restaurant, as the name implies, has an extensive cocktail menu, a menu with so many pages it is really a book. https://vintagecocktailclub.com/cocktails/ How to choose? The waitress said, well if you like Cosmos, I recommend one of the Tiki drinks. I liked his better, a Sidecar with a sugar rim. With its speakeasy vibe, the restaurant is hard to find. Look for the “apartment” door with mailbox style letters VCC and then ring.

Having researched swing dancing in Dublin, I found boogiebeatswing.com, http://www.dublindy.com/ and https://swingscene.ie/dublin/ and knew there would be dancing to dj music at the Turk’s Head, inside the Paramount Hotel 27 Parliament St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. Entry price was €8. By the time we got there after our dinner, the crowd was a little thin and we were tired so we danced a few and went back to our hotel.

While it’s true we knew what we were getting into by booking at a hotel in the Temple Bar area, I was prepared for a little noise from rowdy revelers in the area, but not for church bells chiming every 15 minutes. The construction noise had stopped, yes, and I fell asleep quickly but then the bells woke me up at 4:15 am, when I became aware of the sing songy melody. Ding dong ding dong. Then at 430 am it repeated twice. Ding dong ding dong Ding dong ding dong. Then 445 am three times. Ding dong ding dong, Ding dong ding dong, Ding dong ding dong. I laid awake listening. I tried to fall asleep again between chimes but I guess it takes me 16 minutes to fall asleep. And finally at 5 am the melody four times and 5 rings of the bell. We got the two fans going in the room in hopes that the white noise would drown out the bells.

Thursday Sept 21

In the morning I went to speak to the front desk manager about changing rooms. She had been so lovely when we checked in and helpful with maps and directions. While there were other rooms available for us to move to she admitted that one of them was near the elevator and the other faced the back closer to the bars which for some reason dispose of their nightly trash by breaking the bottles and this can be heard from the room. In any case, all rooms of the hotel are in earshot of the church. I asked, Any availability at your sister properties? She contacted the head office and found a room at the Hotel San George and graciously paid for a taxi to take us there and transferred our prepayment to that hotel.

Checked in to the Hotel San George, which is located across the river on Connelly Street. This was a good location since it was in walking distance to the first stop of the Hop on Hop Off Bus. We bought the bus tickets from the front desk and headed out first for a nearby breakfast at Kingfisher 166 Parnell Street, supposedly where the locals go www.kingfisherdublin.com/.

It was already late for breakfast, having spent the morning changing hotels but luckily we discovered such a thing as “All Day Breakfast” a menu item we found at many pubs – not “breakfast all day” but the Irish breakfast platter served anytime.

By the time we validated our two-day Hop on Hop off bus ticket it was after 2 pm. That worked out great because it gave us time this very first afternoon to do a complete two-hour loop, see the city and think ahead to attractions we’d return to over the next two days. We specifically bought tickets for the Green bus because I read right here on TripAdvisor forum that this bus line had live commentary versus a canned recording. So imagine my disappointment when we boarded and found out they would be using a recording. What?! I said to the guide. Not even a live joke or two? I guess he took that as a challenge because then we heard two hours of them. “This is the cemetery where the inventor of the crossword puzzle is buried. He’s at 3 down and 2 across.”; “This is the maternity hospital. There’s a 9 month wait to get in. And more people leave than go in.;” “This is the statue of Molly Malone and the famous song. Unfortunately for you, it goes something like this.” And those were just the family friendly jokes I can repeat here. Try to get on his tour. Paul Brooks.

The loop ended where it began, on Connelly street and from there we walked over to the Jameson Distillery and joined the tour that was starting in one minute at 5 pm.

After the tour and our whiskey cocktails we walked back along the Henry St. pedestrian mall, shopped at Bag City and peeked in at The Church Bar & Restaurant thechurch.ie to see the unique venue. I’m satisfied with a quick look at a restaurants and bars I had read about in advance, without having to eat or drink in each of them. There were more restaurants in Dublin that I wanted to try than mealtimes over the 5 days. During this trip I also popped my head in to Chapter One on Parnell Square. We already had a molecular gastronomy type meal planned in Galway so a quick look at the menu and the interior gave me enough of an idea to save this for our next trip.

Dinner – Winding Stair – http://www.winding-stair.com/ 40 Lower Ormond Quay, a fabulous meal of beet salad and steak, followed by a drop in to the Downtown Blues Social Dancing Party at Adelphi 52 Middle Abbey Street Dublin 1. www.DowntownBluesDublin.com

Friday Sept 22

Ok, overnight at the Hotel San George, was much quieter although this room was in earshot of a school so we were woken by the schoolyard playground sounds below. Am I really complaining about children and church bells? The room was very comfortable for the three nights we stayed here although the bathroom shower stall was the smallest I’ve ever seen and it was tricky to maneuver around the sink to get in. Nevermind, we very much appreciated the welcome bottle of wine the hotel had waiting for us in the room.

Breakfast – Lily’s Café 3A Cavendish Row

Day trip to Howth – We walked over to the Connolly train station and took the 12:33 DART for the 30 minute trip. From the station in Howth we walked around the Pier where we considered those restaurants for our later lunch but ended up going to The Abbey Tavern for seafood chowder.

That was just across the street the Hurley-Gurley Vintage Radio Museum in the Martello Tower, an owner’s collection of old time radios, phonographs and radio themed memorabilia, which we thoroughly enjoyed, being collectors ourselves. Two useful websites to plan the trip http://www.visithowth.ie and http://aqua.ie/things-to-see-do-in-howth/

Back in Dublin, we considered taking in a show from the http://fringefest.com/ schedule but since tonite was Culture Night https://culturenight.ie we wandered around instead with the crowds around Dublin though the lines were too long to visit any museums. Did enjoy a pop in look around at the The Shelbourne Hotel 27 St Stephen’s Green and Merrion Hotel.

The National Leprechaun Museum tours were sold out so we just took a photo of the front door sign.

Dinner – Rustic Stone rusticstone.ie Tried and loved the hot stone cook it yourself halibut with walnut relish and the Tuna with coriander

Madigan’s – listen to traditional music, some dancing going on

Sat 23rd

Full Irish Breakfast – Murray’s Pub

-free entrance w hop on hop off ticket at The Little Museum of Dublin https://www.littlemuseum.ie

Irish Whiskey Museum tour

Lunch – Bank Bar and Restaurant, in a converted Victorian bank http://www.bankoncollegegreen.com/restaurant/

Antiquing : Frances St shops; Dublin Vintage Shop on Capel St.; http://www.georgesstreetarcade.ie/ ; https:/…

Teeling Whiskey Distillery 13-17 Newmarket,https://teelingdistillery.com/

We hadn’t booked ahead so when we arrived the tour was sold out, so we just viewed the main floor exhibit and had a drink at the bar

Dinner – FX Buckly Steakhouse http://www.fxbuckley.ie/ Crow st. temple bar, reservations: crowstreet@fxbuckley.ie

Tullamore – 1 night

Sunday Sept 24

11:35 am Dublin Heuston Station train arrive 12:39 Tullamore

Tickets purchased online in advance, printed tickets out upon arrival at the station

lunch at the restaurant at Tullamore Dew Visitor Center

230 tour – 90 minute Whiskey Wise MasterClass https://www.tullamoredew.com/en-gb/visit-us/

Dinner – Captain House Restaurant, Main street, Tullamore, captainhouserestaurant.ie

Hotel: Central Hotel Tullamore

Galway – 5 nights

Sept 25 Monday

Before we left Tullamore we took a nice walk from Central Hotel to the Charleville Castle. It was too early for tours but we enjoyed the stroll through the woods and a look around the Castle grounds.

14:18 train from Tullamore, arrive 15:43 Galway

Hotel Meyrick

Dinner McDonagh’s http://mcdonaghs.net/ 22 Quay Street, Fish & Chips and the 3 course special

Swing dancing at Busker Brownes bar, Black Magic Big Band 10 pm – midnight. No cover, Cross Street

Tues Sept 26

Hop On Hop Off Galway – one complete loop around then a second trip with a stop in Salthill to walk the promenade. City bus back to Eyre Square.

230 boat ride on the Corrib Princess http://www.corribprincess.ie/ a 90 minute guided boat trip up the River Corrib onto Lake Corrib and back

Drinks Bierhaus on Henry street. Tried the Galway Hooker beer

Dinner – Aniar http://aniarrestaurant.ie/. Choice of 5, 8 or 10 course tasting menu.

Monroes Tavern stopped by to watch the locals enjoy their regular Tuesday night Traditional Irish set dancing (looks like square dancing.) Dominick Street, www.monroes.ie

Open Mic Night at The Western Hotel, 10pm – had a Powers whiskey while listening to talented locals one by one playing the guitar and singing traditional music and some contemporary

Wed Sept 27

Day trip with Healey Tours – Connemara and Kylemore Abbey

Dinner – Il Vicolo Italian restaurant

Swing dancing – Garveys Bar Eyre Sq rockabilly band The Screaming Bluecats http://www.garveysinn.com/

More swing dancing sources:

Swing Forum Galway on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/swingforumgalway/

Galway Swing on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GalwaySwing/ and http://galwayswing.com/

Also https://swingscene.ie/galway/ and http://swingdancegalway.com/

Thurs Sept 28

Day trip with Wild Atlantic Way Tours – combo tour included ferry and visit Aran Islands (Inisheer) with tour of island by pony cart, then Cliffs of Moher visit by boat and then cliff top. Great guide Phil ODonndubhartaigh

Seafood Dinner at Martine’s of Quay Street, http://martines.ie/

Comedy Club – Dew Drop Inn

Too late for a drink at Tribeton (art deco interior)

Fri Sept 29

Breakfast at An Púcán, Forster Street, www.anpucan.ie

Visit to Galway City Museum and Legend of the Claddagh Ring Visitor Center

Antiquing at An Gailearai Beag – Antiques Shop at 4 Flood Street and Galway Crafts and Collectables at Corbett Court Shopping centre

Peeked in at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Griffin’s Bakery Shop Street and Aunty Nellie’s Sweet Shop.

Tried to visit Nora Barnacle Museum but it was closed.

Afternoon tea at Cupán Tae with the traditional 3 tiered china stand https://cupantae.eu/

Dinner Ard Bia www.ardbia.com local sourced (Venison was on the menu that night)

Wine and listen to John Conneely swing jazz band at Black Gate14 Francis Street http://www.blackgate.ie. He was great, buying his music. http://johnconneely.net/

Swords (Dublin Airport) 1 night

Sat Sept 30 Eireagle express bus, run by CityLink Non-stop to Dublin airport www.citylink.ie , then Premier Inn 2 euro shuttle bus from bus bay 16 to hotel

Check in Premier Inn hotel near Dublin Airport located in a shopping mall complex which also had a Friday’s and other fast food outlets. But I said, I’m not eating at a Friday’s, how about a 20 minute walk to dinner in Swords to Sagarmatha Kitchen http://www.sagarmathakitchen.ie which I saw recommended on TripAdvisor. The website said it was the best Nepalese restaurant in Dublin. He nixed that suggestion saying, Would you go to an Irish Pub if you were in Nepal? So we skipped that and made our own walking tour of the town, the Castle, and the park and then headed to https://theoldschoolhouse.ie/.

Even though we did a lot we already made a list of what to do next trip, as we will certainly be back.

By Lisa Skriloff, Editor, Multicultural Travel News

Tuesday, Nov 11, 2017


 

Multicultural Meetings and Events Will Be Key as Minorities Become the Majority

This article appeared in Skift Magazine May 2017 issue https://skift.com/2017/05/03/multicultural-meetings-and-events-will-be-key-as-minorities-become-the-majority/

by Lisa Skriloff
 

Bringing more multicultural groups to a destination for meetings and events isn’t just good business. It’s also good for local communities and future tourism, too.

— Deanna Ting

With the United States poised to become a minority-majority country by 2040, multicultural markets are no longer a niche outreach business target for convention & visitors bureaus and destination marketing organizations.

Philadelphia is already a minority-majority city, said Greg DeShields, executive director, PHL Diversity, a business development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, which works to increase Philadelphia’s share of diverse/multicultural meetings and tourism.

“There are a lot of assets in this market for meeting conference attendees,” he said. “Eighty-one percent of room nights consumed by PHL Diversity-related groups fell in hotel need periods.”

Launched two years ago, PHL Diversity Podcasts strive to “give a good sense of the destination and how leadership influencers have a consistent point of view of Philadelphia being a diverse and welcoming city,” DeShields said. The group recorded 30 podcasts so far this year, including interviews with Marriott’s vice president of multicultural affairs, Apoorva Gandhi; Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corp. executive director John Chin, and Iron Chef Jose Garces, for instance.

“By leading the charge in hospitality inclusion efforts, PHL Diversity aims to spur the advancement of meetings and conventions in the coming years. We envision an industry in which each interest group feels valued because of their unique perspective,” said DeShields.

REACHING OUT TO PEOPLE OF COLOR

From Fort Lauderdale to New York City, tourism entities are reaching out to a broader clientele than they might have done in years’ past.

“With the growing changes in the demographics, our destination is now [comprised of] more than 54 percent individuals of color,” said Albert Tucker, vice president of multicultural business development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB. “This market segment also travels when our hotels need the business the most, and it supports good economics.”

New York City likewise has put out a welcome map for diverse groups.

“We have done significant outreach to all these groups and more,” said Jerry Cito, SVP of convention development for NYC & Company, said regarding African American, Hispanic, LGBT, and Asian American groups, people with disabilities, seniors, and women- and minority-owned businesses or organizations. “New York City is a melting pot of culture and diversity, and we welcome all groups to see what a New York City meeting can do for them.”

DeShields added African diaspora and Native American to this list of diverse/multicultural groups that PHL Diversity devotes resources to and provides services for.

Cara Banasch, senior vice president of business development and strategy for the New Orleans CVB, said she also looks at “diverse religious gatherings and fraternal groups. Diversity covers a lot of special interests and the list grows and changes constantly.”

Interviews with tourism show that the hallmarks of success for convention and visitors bureaus around the country that have increased meetings business from diverse groups include: recognizing changing demographics; responding to the political climate and national news; involving the local multicultural community; having a dedicated budget plus long-term commitment, and thinking ahead about the next generation that will make up the travel industry.

Recruiting young people for tourism careers may indeed help in the effort to attract more diverse groups of meeting attendees.

“Building relationships is key,” said Connie W. Kinnard, vice president of multicultural tourism and development at the Greater Miami CVB, which also offers www.multiculturalmiami.com as a companion to the CVB’s main website. “Good relationships lead to good outcomes.”

Thinking ahead to the next generation, Kinnard said, “The push to get youth to understand that this industry is lucrative and multifaceted so that they will choose it as a career path is a need.”

Involving the local community and addressing city-related national news head on is what brought groups to St. Louis, Missouri, and Durham, North Carolina.

GETTING LOCALS INVOLVED IS KEY IN ST. LOUIS

Explore St. Louis president Kitty Ratcliffe said, “One of the things we do is work with local community members who are connected to a variety of diverse audiences. We work with the St. Louis Mosaic Project, which is representative of many different cultures within the community, to help us identify convention groups. Many of those are fraternal groups or professional groups of a particular ethnic background or culture.”

She added, “We are working with local Pakistani physicians to bring their convention here. We are working with Indian professionals for their convention coming up, the Telugu Association of North America. We worked with the Ancient Order of Hibernians to attract that national convention as well.”

“Working with locals is always important,” Ratcliffe said. “One of the things I always ask the sales team is, ‘Who is the local on this?’” Once identified, her team will involve that person on a board, or a committee.

“They have a lot of insight that we won’t find out just by doing general research and can help us craft the bid the right way. Some of the groups want you to involve the locals, to provide volunteer support or instructors for some sessions or content.”

Ratcliffe has found this approach to be very successful, particularly with Indian groups with whom she has worked.

“They have a very large vegetarian attendance … so working upfront with the locals helped us understand that and position our food service operation the right way.”

In fact, for the Telugu Association of North America, which is coming in May, she said, “They have specific food requirements, so we are letting them in the kitchen in the convention center.”

The city will host the National Urban League Conference in July. “Of particular importance for us was that the National Urban League was willing to meet in St. Louis this year in light of the events that occurred in Ferguson a few years ago and the media attention that occurred in this suburban community of St. Louis,” said Ratcliffe. “We invited them to meet here, and it is an opportunity for them to see Ferguson and put it into context and use St. Louis as a forum of a discussion of some very challenging issues.”

She underscored that the meeting itself, when thousands will be in St. Louis, “serves a more important role than just the economic contribution that particular week. We made a concerted effort to ask [them]. We the organization, from the highest level, went to them and asked them to meet in St. Louis.” She noted that “Some things require a different kind of conversation first.” Ratcliffe personally attended one of the group’s meetings to ask them to consider her destination for the National Urban League’s next meeting.

April Ellerbe, director of sales for the Durham CVB works closely with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and has perfected the conversation of how to market to these groups differently than how they market to financial insurance and corporate groups, and has designed special itineraries for multicultural markets. Her philosophy? “Don’t invite me to the party; ask me to dance. I think that what that means is without diversity, there is no growth. Without diversity there is a perception we are not being stretched,” Ellerbe said.

She also said, “North Carolina has gone through this strange period where we had HB2, a law that did not allow transgender individuals to use the appropriate bathroom. Because of that it was a huge hit on North Carolina which saw a decrease in meetings. The great thing about Durham, we didn’t see a huge decrease like our neighboring cities, because of who we are. We are inclusive. We stand on what we believe.”

An Associated Press analysis released in March said North Carolina’s bathroom bill will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over the next dozen years. That law was partially repealed in April.

Another strategy for bringing more diverse groups involves enlisting city government support.

Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the Long Beach CVB, said “Our mayor, Robert Garcia, has been instrumental in reaching out to Hispanic organizations to promote our city, i.e., Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. And as one of the first openly gay mayors of a major city, [he] has helped us reach out to LGBT groups. Our CVB staff is also ethnically diverse, with Asian American, African American, and Hispanic sales directors and support staff.”

Echoing the “local” sentiment, Jason Dunn, vice president of multicultural and community development for the Cincinnati USA CVB said, “I keep an open dialogue going with as many local groups as possible so that they become great ambassadors for our destination. We work very hard to build authentic relationships with our local groups. Lacking that, we would have no credibility as a multicultural destination.”

He mentioned that they “worked closely with the VA (Veterans Administration) to bring in the National Veteran’s Wheelchair Games.”

BUSINESS VISITATIONS ARE IMPORTANT IN D.C.

Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of Destination DC said, “As we look to continue increasing business travel, diversity is an important part of our market mix, making up 12 percent of the business we attract to D.C.”

Ferguson noted the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Association of Black Journalists/National Association of Hispanic Journalists, both of which recently chose to meet in D.C. “Networking and participating in industry associations is what creates the relationships and business follows. People want to work with people they like, first and foremost, so relationship building is incredibly important.”

Marie Sueing, vice president of multicultural community relations for Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation cited the upcoming National Association of Independent Schools People of Color Conference in 2018.

“Music of all genres is at the heart of Nashville. It is critical that we attract groups that reflect – and nurture – the diversity of Music City, and that by doing so, foster the economic development of businesses owned by those in the ethnic, multicultural and LGBTQ communities.”

Shun Hatten, VP of sales for Visit Jackson said, “As a destination organization it is important to us to be able to market to all multicultural groups … Our city is a very diverse city. It is important to us as an organization to be inclusive.”

The Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, The Red Door Foundation, and the Conference of Minority Public Administrators are a few examples of organizations that selected Jackson.

Las Vegas will be hosting the 2017 National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) International Business & Leadership Conference at Caesars Palace this summer.

Jim McMichael, specialty markets manager for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, said, “I was brought on board based on my experience dealing with the LGBT community.” For 23 years in a row. Las Vegas has been the No. 1 trade show destination in the U.S. so McMichael is in a good position to offer advice to conventions and visitors bureaus about reaching out to multicultural groups.

“Ask, Is there a chamber of commerce that supports that particular minority? A great way to get started is to interact with them to understand what those groups are looking for.”

Involving the community is also what Rick Blackburn, vice president, convention sales and destination services for the Greater Palm Springs CVB, hopes will attract meetings with attendees from diverse backgrounds.

“The LGBT community has embraced the Greater Palm Springs area for decades on the leisure side, but we have discovered that groups/conventions don’t automatically follow, so we have been proactively searching for groups to contact,” Blackburn said. “LGBT groups are a natural fit for us as we have worked hand in hand with this community for decades.”

Emily Lauer, a spokeswoman for Destination Cleveland, said “As an emerging meetings and events location … Cleveland attracts many leads that fall within some of the multicultural and special interest categories given the city’s diversity — we’re home to residents representing more than 100 ethnicities — and its welcoming environment and Midwest hospitality.

“Since just 2013 when the city opened its new convention center, Cleveland has hosted citywide events including Gay Games (2014), Senior Games (2013), as well as groups such as Teamsters National Black Caucus (2016), Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc. (2016), and Alcoholics Anonymous International Women’s Conference (2017).”

Fort Lauderdale’s Tucker had additional advice to convention bureaus looking to attract a multicultural audience.

“My advice would be to understand the economic value of this market and to get on board and provide the necessary direction and funding to attract this important market segment. The multicultural market is a vibrant market that should be respected, marketed to in an appropriate manner and attention should be paid to the cultural nuances.”

DeShields outlined a three-step plan for CVBs on how to get started in multicultural group outreach: “Design a strategy grounded in extensive research to determine your return on investment. Develop an effective budget for the undertaking. Create a culture which values diversity and inclusion and human dignity.”

Cara Banasch, senior vice president of business development and strategy for the New Orleans CVB, said outreach takes commitment.

“Make the commitment and stay invested. It is not a quick turnaround market and organizations want to feel truly valued and understood, not only by their sales representatives but by local leaders and entities. Be prepared that decisions are made differently than traditional corporate entities and associations often with many volunteers who serve with their personal time and passion, and that the process may include a lot more decision makers that will need to support the choice.”

Diverse groups need to know that their presence is indeed wanted in various markets.

Said Visit Jackson’s Hatten: “Our world is continuously changing, and as a destination organization we have to be inviting to all groups.”

Wednesday, May 05, 2017


How Smart Event Organizers Are Using Big Data to Create Better Events

This article appeared in Skift Magazine May 2017 issue https://skift.com/2017/05/17/how-smart-event-organizers-are-using-big-data-to-create-better-events/

by Lisa Skriloff
 
Limitations remain, but there’s a goldmine of data available that can help with sales, marketing, and production.
— Deanna Ting

When the First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1774, simply knowing that 12 of the 13 colonies were sending delegates was likely more than enough to count as attendee data.

Today’s meeting planners, however, need more data than just how many people are coming to put on a relevant event for attendees and make money for conference producers. Technology from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, as well as websites and apps from companies like BizzaboCventEventbase, and Eventbrite are filling in those knowledge gaps.

GETTING A MORE HOLISTIC VIEW OF THE EVENT

Emily Fullmer, global events manager at Greenbook, finds that the data she collects from Bizzabo, the technology vendor she selected for Greenbook’s IIeX North America conference, “has been immensely impactful in how we make our decisions” and gives her a more comprehensive overview of how her events are performing, benefiting her sales and marketing departments at the same time.

Fullmer said, “As an event planner, I can see, in real time, revenue numbers from a certain promotion on site, how many people have checked in. When you need something at your fingertips immediately, the data is always there at the time we need it.”

“We strongly believe that data is power,” said Bizzabo co-founder, CMO, and COO Alon Alroy. The company works with corporations, publishers, marketing agencies, associations and third-party planners to “help people create a better website, to promote their event via email and social media, maximize participation, and maximize engagement.” Its technology also integrates easily with Linkedin, MailChimp, and Salesforce among others.

With the help of modern technology platforms like Bizzabo and others, event organizers can easily access and analyze data to make data-driven decisions that have a direct impact on the success of their events, whether they’re looking to “improve registration rates, enhance attendee experience, and provide noticeable ROI to other business units like sales or marketing,” Alroy explained.

Greenbook added the global conference IIeX, the Insight Innovation Exchange, five years ago, to its series of annual events and webinars which attract anywhere from 100 to 1,000 people per event.

“Bizzabo made the most sense from a user experience and logistics that met the needs of our sales team and marketing team and production,” said Fullmer. She explained that Greenbook, using Bizzabo technology, limits the amount of data collected during the registration process to make it as simple as possible. “Then everyone receives a confirmation email that triggers them to sign up for the community of attendees,” she said. “Then I rely on Bizzabo to tell us more about them. We can see what parts of the mobile app are being utilized, what facets of the event are most interesting to attendees, without asking them specifically.”

She highlighted notable Bizzabo features that tell her how a campaign is performing and with up to 150 speakers at an event, she can easily tell which speakers are generating the most interest based on engagement.

“Our marketing team loves the Ticket Boost functionality,” she added. “It allows them to see that … in a tight-knit market research community, which ones are making a difference.” She added, “If a platform neglects logistics it is a complete headache for an event organizer. But Bizzabo manages logistics and also marketing, while marketing is lost on other platforms.”

Ticket Boost acts as a referrals/reward system and Alroy described it as being modeled after “how Uber and Airbnb were able to turn users into advocates. When people purchase a ticket to an event, we incentivize them to share on social media and provide a discount and share that data with marketers.”

CHOOSING SPEAKERS, MORE EFFECTIVE MARKETING AND REGISTRATION

Scott Ehrlich, COO of DTC Perspectives, whose company produces the Hospital Marketing National Conference among others, uses data to know which speaker to feature in his event’s e-marketing blasts.

DTC Perspectives uses a combination of CventInfusionsoftConstant Contact, and its own internal website marketing tool for its annual conferences, the DTC National Conference, the Hospital Marketing National Conference and the DTC Forum on TV and Print/DTC Agency Vanguard Awards.

Ehrlich and John Woodbridge, DTC Perspectives’ director of business development and marketing said what they like, what they don’t and what they wish for.

“Cvent gives us conference marketing, registration and agenda in one fairly simple-to-use tool,” said Erlich. “Cvent is very plug and play.”

“Although what we do a lot of is revenue from conference registrations, a larger part of what we need software for is marketing and running transactions, processing things that aren’t a conference pass,” Woodbridge explained.

DTC sells sponsorships, reprints, advertising and list access “under an umbrella of 12 things that can be implemented at the conference,” said Woodridge. “One of the limitations of Cvent is that we can’t process a one-off transaction,” said Woodbridge. “Let’s say they purchase ‘early list access’. With Cvent they would have to buy it as a pass and then we use our own system to know they are not a conference attendee.”

Woodbridge cited two reports which he finds very useful: the Registrant Extract report, which he primarily uses for benchmarking to project how a conference will turn out, and the Abandon Registrations list. With that report, he said, “We email them, and send them a personal note saying, ‘I noticed you started to register and you dropped out. Is there anything we can do?’”

“Getting the info out of a report is great,” he said, “but timeliness is important to that sale. It would be nice to get an instant notification so I can call them.” Woodbridge often calls these “abandoned shopping cart” attendees to ask them why they didn’t register. Before the conference, he uses the list to find out what it will take to get them to register, and gives that to them, offering a discount when appropriate.

The combination of tech products and data available to DTC provides Woodbridge with a picture of “one person’s interaction and everyone as a whole.” “You can see, for example, that someone came to your website four times in the last month, they opened their email, they clicked that tweet and the sale was made through that tweet,” Woodbridge said.

Armed with survey data from attendees, Woodbridge said he finds it to be the most valuable information to use, and to harness into face-to-face meetings and interactions. “I’ve been on the phone with a handful of kind and generous marketers [conference attendees] getting feedback from them,” he said. I fly up and schedule trips simply to meet with people, to meet with them one on one and help serve them better. Hearing it directly from them, is the best way to do it.”

DTC doesn’t utilize Bizzabo’s suite of tech products, but Bizzabo’s Alroy said the company’s Hot Leads retargeting product also helps organizers reach out to attendees who may have had a case of cold feet.

“Sometimes people start the registration process but don’t complete it,” he explained. “We capture their information and we provide the organizer with a list. Then we send them an email [saying] ‘I saw you started to register. Here is a discount,’” Alroy said. He compared Hot Leads to what happens with Amazon, when “you are looking at a pair of shoes and then you see shoe ads chasing you all over the Internet.”

BUILDING BETTER RELATIONSHIPS WITH SPONSORS, GETTING TO KNOW ATTENDEES

Amanda Gottlieb, senior marketing manager at Working Mother Media uses Cvent software for its conferences, which include the WorkBeyond Summit, NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women, the Multicultural Women’s National Conference, the Global Women of Advancement Conference, Best Law Firms for Women Gala Awards Luncheon and Career Accelerator Summit, Men As Allies and Global Advancement of Women Conference.

“We collect basic attendee contact information as well as ask them if they want to opt in to our emails and how they heard about our event,” she said. “We also ask for dietary requirements, gender, ethnicity, job level, company size, industry type, and we ask, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, do you require specific aids or services? We also ask if they want to share that they are attending our event on social media.”

However, the type of data that is of most value, Gottlieb noted, is that which she can relate to her events’ sponsors. “A sponsor would want to know the event ROI — what did their attendees learn, was it useful and do they have info to bring back and share with their colleagues? How many attendees were there, what job level are they, etc.,” she explained.

“We send an evaluation post event asking for attendee feedback, rating each speaker, what they feel can be improved, what topics they want to learn about in the future, speakers they would like to see, etc. As a company, we look at attendance per event year over year — is the event growing, are the same people attending or are companies sending different employees?”

Asked what was on her wish list, Gottleib said, “We haven’t been able to track when attendees download our app which we would like to be able to do, so when we use an email to help promote the app, we’d like to know if that leads to more downloads prior to an event.”

GETTING TO KNOW MEMBERS BETTER

Horacio Gavilan, executive director of AHAA: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing, a trade organization representing the entire Hispanic marketing, communications and media industry, formerly known as the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, uses Euclid Technology’s Association Management Software, ClearVantage, which is tied in with the organization’s membership database.

“It’s a lot more comprehensive than just tracking an event,” he said. “I also track payment history, how long they have been members, when they came to the conference in the past, if they attended a webinar and anything else they bought from me.”

On his wish list of data, Gavilan said, “I know a lot about my members but I wish I could know the generational differences. But I also think there is no way for me to track it. I can only make those assumptions based on title.” Referring to Millennials, he noted, “I know they consume media differently, so how can I, as a meeting planner, make sure I am providing content that is relevant?”

Gavilan underscored, “It’s all about data and how you use data. Your organization would be foolish not to incorporate this into the planning process. Sometimes you don’t realize how much data is there.”

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


A Multicultural Travel Experience Onboard an AmaWaterways River Cruise

By Lisa Skriloff, Editor, Multicultural Travel News

An AmaWaterways river cruise, onboard the AmaStella ship on the Danube River, such as “Melodies of the Danube,” (the cruise my boyfriend John and I joined for Multicultural Travel News,) offers the traveler a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the culture of five different countries in 8 days, all with only unpacking once.

 
The AmaStella

Our May 24th departure took us from Budapest, Hungary up the Danube through Slovakia to Austria and Germany. And the Czech Republic too when you include our port excursion day trip to Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of 6 such sites that this cruise featured. Cesky Krumlov is also included in the book “1000 Places to See Before You Die: A Traveler’s Life List” as were several other places this trip brought us to, (Durnstein, Vienna, The Danube itself!), now all crossed off our list.

Seamlessly gliding from one country into the next, I only knew we had crossed borders when my phone alerted me with a Verizon text message, such as, “Welcome to Slovakia – Talk, Text, Data for $10 a day.”

Our cultural experience started on board with the daily menu selection evocative of each country we visited. Sacher torte, warm pretzels with mustard, Wiener Schnitzel, Weisswurst…. All of these menu options were heartily consumed as we soaked up each country’s culture. The Danube starts in the Black Forest and its namesake cake was served more than once.

Also onboard, a global range of international passengers; Countries represented on my trip, besides the U.S.: Canada, Holland, Germany, Argentina, India.

As each stop deposited us in another country we came to know its treasures via cultural experiences such as Austrian wine tasting, German Oktoberfest, Hungarian folklore show and a bachelor party Slovakian style, some of which were provided by the cruise line via walking tours or onboard, all of which were made possible by being on the cruise.

While all meals on the ship are included in the price of the cruise, we did skip some to sample the local restaurants in each town.

Also included with each meal, unlimited wine and beer. John, perhaps signaling his intention to take full advantage of the abundant beer available, nicknamed our ship the Stella Artois (though in reality he drank the local beer.)

For the first night’s dinner, we tried out the Chef’s Table restaurant, a specialty restaurant serving a chef’s choice tasting menu to only 28 guests. But unlike other cruise lines, there was no surcharge applied to this specialty restaurant dining experience.

Chef’s Table specialty restaurant on the AmaStella

Also unlike other cruise lines, daily shore excursions are included in the price of the trip.

When it comes to touring, we’re a little offbeat and seek the off-the-beaten path experience. Luckily there were as many as five paths to choose from each day as we were presented with different shore excursion options and “on your own” time.

Each day’s choice of walking tours featured a “gentle walkers” tour in addition to the regular walking tour. On top of those, there was the active walkers tour, which covered more ground in the time allotted. Having tried the active walkers tour, I came to call it the New Yorker’s walking tour, as it went at my typical speed walking around Manhattan. There was also a daily sightseeing hike and a bike tour, (bikes are provided) created in partnership with Backroads (which we never tried.)

What a relief to be able to continue our fitness regimen while on vacation – as the walking tours provided.  Our daily goal at home is 10,000 steps. Some days we hit 20,000+. All that delicious food and I still lost 2 pounds despite daily dessert and late night snack. Once I saw my favorites on the daily menu choices, I declared to John at the beginning of the trip “I am going to have bacon and ice cream every day.”  Which I did. Not to mention Ice Cream Social day when I had ice cream twice.

Yes, on this cruise you can “Do your own thing” or choose from among organized tours graded by level of difficulty from 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult. The hike up to Bratislava’s Castle, for example was graded Level of Difficulty 5, the guided bike tour along the Danube was a 3, while Durnstein walking tour and Melk abbey visit was a 1.

So comprehensive was the cruise literature grading each activity that even the Strauss and Mozart concert evening during a night out in Vienna (sit and listen to music) was labeled as a “1” in degree of difficulty. (John remarked that if it had been a Wagner concert it might have been labeled a “5.”)

For help in free time at port planning, the Cruise Manager was a wealth of information having a comprehensive knowledge of each town. I did stump him once when he remarked “Funny. No one has ever asked me about the Snow Globe museum in Vienna before.” Though he had heard of The Third Man Museum.

In Budapest, our first port of departure, our ship was in walking distance to the main pedestrian shopping street so we headed up Vaci Uta towards the Square. AmaWaterways’ detailed trip program had spelled out what would be included on the next day’s tour so we made our own itinerary for that first afternoon of arrival.  Armed with my advance investigation and research, my book, “1000 Places to See Before You Die” directed us to Gerbeaud for our lunch of Hungarian Goulash soup and chicken paprikash, followed by a stop at nearby Szamos coffee house for a look at their chocolate making mini production line. As we made our way back to the ship we detoured to see the Synagogue, the biggest in Europe and only second in the world to the New York City’s.

Scenes of Budapest

All that in the first afternoon of arrival, and then back to the ship in time for the welcome reception and safety briefing. Our fabulous tour manager conveyed the Gemütlichkeit, warmth and friendliness,  that set the tone for the cruise as he introduced the staff and crew and started the dialogue that introduced passengers to each other.

Following our dinner, it was time for the Illumination cruise as our ship traveled under 7 bridges — some so low you could practically reach up and touch them– passing the Parliament, Gellert Spa, museums, the castle and other notable buildings and then docked for the night.

The next day, after the overnight in Pest, we were offered a choice of a regular walking tour, a gentle walkers tour or a castle hill hike. There was also a Late riser’s tour for those who wanted an extra 40 minutes of sleep.

Our morning tour began with a visit to the Great Market hall, then we boarded the bus to drive around the Pest side and then to Buda, the hilly side, for a visit to Buda Castle, Mattias church and Fisherman’s Bastion.

Everyone on the walking tour was provided with a personal Quiet Vox audio headset device and individual ear buds so we could tune into the tour guide and not miss a word even if we trailed behind.

The cruise manager has done an excellent job of vetting every local tour guide — each was knowledgeable not just in the Michelin guide history of their city but each imparted the local culture and flavor of each country.

Our guide in Bratislava, in particular, stood out. So enjoyable was his repartee, I suspect his night job is stand-up comedian. Or perhaps Communism breeds an outlook with a sense of humor.

Who knew that Bratislava was the Las Vegas of Eastern Europe for English bachelor party weekends. That was the explanation our guide gave as to why one guy among a group of friends was spotted wearing a chicken outfit and in another group the bachelor fiancée was wearing a Dutch girl milkmaid outfit and blonde braids.

Our orientation walking tour ended in the Park Hyatt Hotel square and with free time at our disposal, and armed with the city map (the cruise line provides one for each port) we made our own hike up to the Bratislava castle for a bird’s eye view of our ship docked on the Danube. A 10-euro tram ride up was available but we had our daily steps goal to meet.

Bratislava castle

View from Bratislava Castle

Our cruise took us into the heart of 3 European capitals in the first 3 days. Along the way, traveling up the Danube on our first day of cruising, we passed Hungary’s largest church. Announcements are made so we knew when to gather on the top deck. Or we could view the shoreline scenery from the comfort of our cabin balcony. While our active walking tours each day were the highlight of the cruise, that was a close second to simply watching the scenery going by — of castles, churches, ruins, and fishing huts–  from our balcony chairs.

 

 
River cruising along the Danube

After Budapest and Bratislava, we arrived in Vienna and 3 busloads of passengers were taken to an Austrian Heuriger, a local wine tavern, prepared to welcome us all.

In Vienna, our full day included a city tour by bus around the Ringstrasse as the guide pointed out buildings we could visit on our own later during free time. Then, off the bus for a walking tour thru Vienna’s historic city center, itself another UNESCO World Heritage Site, by the Spanish Riding School, the gardens and ending up at St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Vienna

We had a long list of possible free time activities but couldn’t get to them all. We didn’t make it to the Ferris Wheel or The Third Man Museum but did hit the flea market then lunch at nearby Cafe Savoy for a Wiener Schnitzel and beer.

Wiener Schnitzel at Cafe Savoy, Vienna

The afternoon we had our private waltz lesson at Elmayer School, which I had booked in advance by email a month before our trip. (See related article “Dancing, Dining, Docking up the Danube on an AmaWaterways River Cruise.”)

That evening’s ticket to the Strauss and Mozart concert by the Wiener Hofburg Orchestra was the only extra cost as all shore excursions are included in the cruise.

At our next stop at Weissenkirchen, we were offered a choice of 5 excursions, but only one of them included wine tasting, so that’s the one we selected. A beautiful walk along the Danube banks, with the guide in our ear with her stories of this land of Richard the Lionhearted, up into the town of Durnstein for the wine tasting and also, from local apricot trees, some apricot marmalade and apricot schnapps tasting.

Our ship had already departed Weissenkirchen when the passengers disembarked for this tour, and we met up with it at Ybbs.

From there we cruised up the Danube in the Waccau Valley, also classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and arrived in Grein where our group was given a private tour of Austria’s oldest residential castle, with a folklore show and sparkling wine reception. You can be sure we counted the 80 steps of the staircase up to the castle towards our daily total.

Austrian folk dancers


The AmaStella from the Grein Castle

I was amused to learn from the cruise manager’s onboard instructions and introductory remarks, that if we ever were late returning to the ship from a shore excursion and were left behind (though they give you an ample grace period), since the ship is only traveling 7 miles an hour we could always catch up in a taxi.

Next stop was Linz and of course Linzetorte was served onboard — the oldest cake recipe with a city in its name.

We chose the afternoon bus excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage city Cesky Krumlov, a medieval town just over the Austrian-Czech border. After our guided walking tour of the historic center and castle, we visited the Egon Schiele Art Center and had a beer and pretzels in an outdoor garden restaurant along the river. John spotted the Krumlovanka Hat store and bought a felt hat of excellent quality made of rabbit hair.  He knew it was “Excellent Quality” because that’s what was printed on the inside band.

Cesky Krumlov

Our penultimate port was Passau, where 3 rivers come together so we dubbed it the Pittsburgh of Europe.  We followed the local guide for a walking tour then visited the Glass Museum on our own with 30,000 items in their collection of vases, pitchers, bottles, wine glasses, pendants and lamps from the period 1650 to 1950 with a special focus on Art Nouveau.

Passau

That afternoon we arrived at our last port, Vilshofen, Germany. And that evening there was a goodbye party for all passengers in a dockside tent for our own private Oktoberfest. We joined our new found and lifelong friends at picnic tables for glass after glass of local beer, fat pretzels while listening to Bavarian folk music and our Emcee Miss Beer Queen of Vilshofen. (Level of difficulty 1.)

About AmaWaterways

A family-owned company, AmaWaterways offers river cruises with 20 ships that sail Europe’s Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhône, Seine, Garonne, Dordogne, Dutch and Belgian Waterways and Douro rivers. Between July  2017 and Dec 2018 AmaWaterways offers over 300 cruises on the Danube. Learn more at www.AmaWaterways.com.

Wednesday, Jul 07, 2017


THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING – a Review

I was familiar with the Irish word for “Cheers” (Good Health) having seen “Sláinte” in writing  but had never heard it pronounced out loud until mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale uttered “Slan-cha” during the performance of THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING currently playing in New York City.

Salud, Na zdorovie, Skal, Proost, Cin cin, Sei gesund: These are the drinking toasts I have previously heard in action. Curious that Anthony, a walking Encyclopedia Britannica of knowledge (some facts from Wikipedia) didn’t expound on this custom from around the world during this entertaining evening billed as a musical comedy drinking show. Nevermind. A quick google search of my own found plenty of websites on how to say cheers in 50 languages.

Ready for the performance of THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING

The show takes place in a bar located in the New World Stages theatrical complex where 4 other shows are currently playing, including Avenue Q. Indeed during the intermission of those other shows, their audience members tried to crash our show, seeking a drink, thinking it was a working bar.

Actually it is a working bar and 3 complimentary craft cocktails are served to this over 21 audience during the course of the performance.  (The real bar in the building is called The Green Room.)

MC/singer/cocktail waitress/co-producer/director Nicole DiMattei  at the start of THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING

The difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink? Between a mixologist and a bartender? How beer is made (and brewed in front of us.) All these are revealed during this in-depth review of the 10,000 year history of alcohol. Even his explanation of the provenance of the word itself made me think about other “al-“   words: Alhambra popped into my mind.

Popcorn is placed at each table – seating is at banquets or cocktail tables — and the bowl refilled during the show as “Professor” Caporale spoke for almost 2 hours (can I get Continuing Education credit or at least a certificate?) and also made a yummy Gin and Tonic for everyone in the audience.

Three other cast members, The Backwaiters acapella group, provided vocal stylings, in multiple costume changes (cavemen, Egyptians, lab coated scientists, the Queen of England)  while serving as cocktail waiters for the audience.

Our other two drinks were a Shandy made of Coney Island Overpass IPA beer and Ginger Ale and a Creamsicle Old Fashioned.

This is the kind of audience participation I can agree to, while others answered questions Anthony threw out, or filled in the words to I Will Survive, as singer/cocktail waitress/co-producer/director Nicole DiMattei paused during her song.

Audience members who happened to be bartenders were urged to tell their favorite bar jokes and they complied.

I felt educated and nearly intoxicated (from the word “toxic” hence alcohol poisoning) as the evening progressed.  Luckily I had my own big drinker date with me, John, who happily finished off my drinks.

Immersive theater at its finest. If you’re trying to decide “shall we go to a show tonite, or just get a drink” no compromising needed here.

John in fact contributed his own joke: When I told him we’re going to a show that takes place in a bar, he quipped “A show walks into a bar. And the bartender said ‘Why the long farce?’ “

Visit http://imbible.nyc/ @the_imbible

By Lisa Skriloff, Multicultural Travel News, Multicultural Entertainment News

Tuesday, Apr 04, 2017


Lucky Dragon Enters the Las Vegas Strip

Q&A with Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino’s Blaire Dela Cruz

This article appeared in Successful Meetings Magazine Jan 2017 issue http://www.successfulmeetings.com/News/Destinations/West/Lucky-Dragon-Enters-Las-Vegas-Strip/

by Lisa Skriloff

 

In December, Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino (a nine-story hotel with 203 rooms, including 23 suites) opened in Las Vegas, the first newly built from-the-ground-up hotel in the city since 2010. Coinciding with the launch of Hainan Airlines’ nonstop service from Beijing, the hotel was opened with an eye toward appealing to the Asian-American market, incorporating feng shui elements, table games, specialty spa treatments, a tea sommelier, and heavy use of lucky number eight (hence phone number (702) 889-8018 and the octagon-shaped casino). Special Chinese New Year celebrations, starting Jan. 28, Year of the Rooster, are also planned. Vice President of Hotel Blaire Dela Cruz spoke to Successful Meetings:

Q: What does Lucky Dragon offer to group travelers?
A:
 Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino offers a unique environment where groups can enjoy an authentic Asian gaming, dining, and lifestyle experience — an atmosphere unlike any other on the Strip. Groups will enjoy private dining areas in Pearl Ocean, our dim sum and seafood specialty restaurant, and Phoenix, our fine-dining restaurant. In addition, the 1,250-square-foot penthouse suite features a living and dining area perfect for catered meetings and intimate events.

Outdoor functions are available at our pool, and Lucky Dragon is also very close in proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Q: Who is your core market?
A:
 The local and regional Asian-American clientele will be the largest market represented. Other domestic Asian-American markets are a close second, and Asian tourists, particularly with the new flight direct from Beijing, will represent an additional segment of our guests.

Q: How has the “authentic Asian cultural and gaming experience” been created?
A:
 From the very beginning, our property was designed with the rich history of Chinese culture in mind, to bring good luck and good fortune to all our guests.

The number four, unlucky due to the phonetic resemblance to the pronunciation of the Chinese word for “death,” is absent wherever possible. Guests will notice there is no fourth floor in our hotel tower, nor is there in our parking structure.

All property signage is in Chinese first, English second.  More than 70 percent of our staff of more than 750 is bilingual (both Mandarin and Cantonese). Our rooms feature [media with] the most Chinese-language channels available and more Chinese language programming than any other hotel in Las Vegas.

The core of Lucky Dragon’s authenticity is most likely found in our culinary program. With five restaurant concepts….we will feature the freshest and some of the rarest ingredients available.

Wednesday, Jan 11, 2017


Vintage Vegas at the Tuscany Suites & Casino, by Lisa Skriloff

Vintage Vegas lives on at the Tuscany Suites & Casino, a privately-owned, all-suite hidden gem on East Flamingo Road near the Las Vegas strip. Swing dancers who seek the ideal venue to stay, dine and dance in Las Vegas will find nightly live music for dancing in the Piazza Lounge at the Tuscany, also home to the tribute show, “The Rat Pack is Back.”

At 650 square feet, the newly-refurbished suites at Tuscany Suites & Casino are among the largest in the city with in-room kitchenettes, dining areas and open sitting areas in each room.

Earlier this month, Janice Paluzzi, Director of Catering, showed us around; we couldn’t help asking her to share some stories from her over 30 years of experience in catering and conventions working with prominent headline performers including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Barbara Streisand, Neil Sedaka and Barry Manilow.

Now at the Copa Room at the Tuscany Casino, “The Rat Pack is Back,” in its 18th year and billed as the only full time Rat Pack show in the world, is “the next best thing to seeing the original Rat Pack themselves.”  These Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin headliner impersonators perform nightly at 7:30 pm. Tickets available at https://trpentertainment.ticketspice.com/the-rat-pack-is-back-show.

Dinner and a show combo is offered at the Tuscany Gardens, the fine dining Italian restaurant adjacent to the Piazza Lounge. We enjoyed a dinner of antipasto platter, cioppino(fennel scented tomato broth, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari) for me, Surf and Turf for him and then 3 desserts for the 2 of us: their famous crème brulee, molten chocolate cake and affogato (espresso with vanilla ice cream.)

The Piazza Lounge, a no-cover cocktail lounge with live music nightly, features the favorite Laura Shaffer and the Noir Nightingale Trio on Monday nights bringing back the glamour and the fabulous music of the lounge era in Las Vegas. Count on her to indulge us with our favorite “Sunny Side of the Street” for a swing or foxtrot, and “Peel Me a Grape” for a west coast swing. Other favorites we have danced to: Cheek to Cheek, Ain’t Misbehavin,’ Straighten Up & Fly Right, Perfidia and You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To.

Sunday nights in the Piazza Lounge there’s more dancing to “Nik at Nite,” Nikolas Mastrangelo singing Sinatra-era music. Entertainment schedule at http://www.tuscanylv.com/entertainment/.

Not only dancers but convention goers at the nearby Sands Expo Center and meeting planners will find convenience and value at the Tuscany Suites & Casino, ideal for extended stays. Indeed, meetings are more popular than weddings here as demand repurposed the wedding chapel into a meeting room. Family reunion, medical meeting and training session planners have 40,000 square feet to configure to their needs, from a 60-person classroom to a sit down dinner for 1100 with stage and screen to an outdoor balcony reception overlooking the pool. Learn more at http://www.tuscanylv.com/meetings-banquets/.

Jan 30, 2017


Heritage, History and Hispanic explorers in San Diego

San Diego’s sea, sun, surf and spa offerings have always beckoned to vacationers but a traveler with an interest in heritage, history and Hispanic explorers will also find a week’s worth of activities with nary a trip to the beach.

Here’s a blueprint –  by century –  to visit modern day San Diego with an eye toward the past.

1500s

Learn about the Spanish galleon that brought Explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo on Sept. 28, 1542 – the first European to set foot on the West Coast –  at The Maritime Museum of San Diego. Tour the ship museum, the San Salvador, or board it andsail on it via a Pacific Heritage Tour. This floating museum, actually,  a collection of historic vessels docked in the San DiegoBay for tourists to visit, has added this 11th ship, a historically accurate replica of the founding ship of San Diego and of the State of California. This working replica of the San Salvador, considered the “Mayflower of the West,” stands 60 feet tall and took the Maritime Museum five years to construct. Visitors: in addition to moving from one ship to another, via a series of interconnecting mini bridges, accept the upgrade and take a harbor tour on the 1914 Pilot boat with a 45 minute history bay cruises tour.

San Salvador

San Salvador

1700s

Overlooking Old Town San Diego is the Junipero Serra Museum founded in 1769, when Spanish Franciscan missionary Father Junípero Serra established the site of the first permanent European settlement — in what is today the State of California–  the mission and presidio (fort) atop Presidio Hill.

Old Presidio Historic Trail

1800s

An ideal base for visiting old San Diego is the Cosmopolitan Hotel, an 1800s hotel, located in the Old Town area of the city. My room had a pull handle toilet and no TV, keeping with the step-back-in-time theme. The Cosmopolitan, a boutique hotel with old world charm and an outdoor garden terrace restaurant, was originally Casa de Bandini, the mansion of the Juan Bandini family.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

The Cosmopolitan Hotel

A full day of exploration in the recreated, restored Old Town San Diego village included visits to the Wells Fargo History Museum, the first San Diego Courthouse, La Casa de Estudillo, Rust General Store, The McCoy House and the Casa del Rey Moro African Museum.

At the Fiesta de Reyes Plaza, lunch at the stand was $7 for 2 tacos, enjoyed while taking in the mariachi trio on stage who delighted the crowd and in particular, one anniversary couple who got up to dance to Como Pasan Los Años. Other songs included Mexican favorites as well as favorites of a decidedly non-Mariachi origin including Hotel California, but fitting I suppose given the location.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

Nearby, I also toured The Whaley House Museum, San Diego’s first two-story brick structure, built in 1856-57, with a haunted reputation. I also enjoyed The Sheriff’s Museum with its 1850s jail and modern day video about 20th century criminal activities.

The day ended with dinner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and an evening at the old-timey Cygnet Theater taking in a live performance, Broadway style of Stephen Sondheim’s Gypsy at the off-off-off-off Broadway price of $45. (Still humming lyrics to this day “Funny, you’re a man who goes traveling….small world, isn’t it?)

Old Town San Diego, considered the birthplace of California, and overseen by  California State Parks, also offers “Living History” demonstrations of activities that took place in the 1800s like quilting and blacksmithing.

1900s

Balboa Park, once the home of the 1915-16 Panama California Exposition, now is a 1100 acre complex of museums, theaters, gardens and the Zoo. The Botanical Garden, Natural History Museum with its Whales 3D movie showing in the giant-screentheater and lunch at The Prado outdoor patio took a good part of the day.

Balboa Park Botanical Building

Balboa Park Botanical Building

A modern-day store, with a 1940s vintage wear sensibility is Tatyana, with evening wear perfect for a swing dance outing.  Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this area is also home to modern trendy restaurants such as Grant Grill located in the 1910 US GRANT Hotel.

Tatyana

Gaslamp Quarter

2000s

No foodie San Diego visit would be complete without dinner at Juniper & Ivy, an award-winning new restaurant, opened in2014 in the Little Italy section of San Diego. Menu highlights for me: BBQ carrots with Jalapeño Chimicurri and their famous Bajayellowtail.

Other dining stand-outs included fresh catch of the day Baja California halibut at the waterside Fish Market restaurant and brunch at the Searsucker.

The Cosmopolitan in Old Town is conveniently located for last day return trip  to the Airport. My  step back in time vacation was capped by a 10 minute Uber ride to make the flight while wishing a stage-coach had been available.

By Lisa Skriloff

Friday, Dec 12, 2016


Planning Your Perfect French Cultural Vacation in Québec City

A French cultural vacation awaits you in Québec City every day of the year, but even more so on the first weekend in August when The New France Festival (Les Fêtes de la Nouvelle-France) is held, now in its 20th year. Multicultural Travel News was in Québec City this past August for the Festival, an annual outdoor 5-day celebration, perhaps best described  as « Colonial Williamsburg meets The Renaissance Faire,” with a serving of “poutine” –  the French way of eating French fries (gravy and cheese curds instead of ketchup.) Costumez-vous! – Wear a period costume to get in the true spirit of the event or comfortable clothes (costumes are available to rent from Costumier de l’époque – view some selections at http://www.costumierlepoque.com/) and immerse yourself in an educational, musical, fun-filled and delicious experience which evokes the time when, contrary to the popular sentiment of today, we were all furriers back then. Our visit started with a bit of history and ended with hysterical laughter as we first traveled back in time listening to the re-enactor explain his role as the “engagé” (contract worker) and culminating in a corn eating competition with our friend Paul eating 25 ears of corn, which, amazingly, brought him only up to 3rd place. The “engagé,” this hired hand, addressed our group: “Who here is from the 13 colonies?” And so began our foray into the past at this unique encounter with history which took place at the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site- Artillery Park, part of this designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Favorite food: the biggest and best turkey leg I have ever tasted, a featured delicacy at the BBQ of Yesteryear tent, also serving grilled specialties inspired from the Huron-Wendat, Celtic era and Acadia peoples. Favorite “awwww” moment: a bunny in a basket being passed around amongst 3-year olds at the petting zoo pen. Also, not to be missed at the biggest history fest in North America – old-timey vendor booths, tasting kiosks, major music shows, staged mini performances, stilt-walking acrobats, a fencing workshop, a strongman demonstration, and First Nation’s music and dance.

Scenes from the New France Festival 2016

“Who here is from the 13 Colonies?”

Turkey legs at the barbecue of yesteryear at The New France Festival

Petting zoo at The New France Festival

Over 200,000 visitors partake each year in The New France Festival billed as “showcasing, with humor, the 17th and 18th century period when Québec was a French colony. “

This year’s theme, “Imagine the Americas” was an invitation “to discover the cultural diversity of the New France era and to celebrate the influence of New French explorers, pioneers and adventurers across the Americas.”

Not only the French and the Natives but all inhabitants of the era are recognized and celebrated – Italians, Germans, Basque, Africans, West Indians,  Spaniards, English, Irish and Scots as visitors immerse themselves in life as it was in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Dressed for The New France Festival

Here, the schedule of over 400 shows and re-enactments, invites festival-goers to  come watch traditional dances and meet Huron-Wendat artisans at the great teepee.

“As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation in 2017, it seems more important than ever to support events that help Canadians discover their rich heritage in an entertaining and original way. Thanks to the talent of the artists, artisans and historical performers showcased during the New France Festival, citizens can dive into the heart of what life was like in the time of their ancestors”, said The Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, in a statement.

Read more and stay tuned for next year (Aug 9-13, 2017) at http://nouvellefrance.qc.ca/about/

Canadian history books and museums do not present a white-washed version of the founding of the region: The integral role of the First Nations, or First Peoples of Canada, is recognized and credited, not only at this festival but in museum displays and official websites where reference to the French “discovery” of the region is always presented in quotes.

Beyond the festival, continue your French cultural immersion in food and museum visits to understand the history of the 30 million French speakers across the Continent.

Without a doubt, the ideal hotel as your base of operations for your own explorations is the 125-year old castle, The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel (http://www.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec/) located inside the walls of Old Québec, overlooking the St. Lawrence River and adjacent to the Funiculaire du Vieux Québec, the funicular rail car that transports visitors down to the Petit Champlain area and back up.

The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Hotel and Dufferin Terrace boardwalk

View of Chateau Frontenac from Quartier Petit-Champlain

Funicular to Chateau Frontenac from  Quartier Petit-Champlain

Time your stay at the hotel to include a Saturday evening, as we did,  when the International Fireworks show can be viewed from the Dufferin Terrace boardwalk.

Dufferin Terrace boardwalk

A good place to start your visit to Québec City is online at http://www.quebecregion.com/en/quebec-city-and-area/old-quebec/

Upon arrival, visit the Tourist Office, just across the Place d’ Armes square from the hotel, which is also the starting point for the Red Bus Line of the HopOn HopOff city tour on board Autobus Les Tours du Vieux-Québec Inc.

A good starting point, before even boarding the bus, is a visit to the Musée de l’Amérique Francophone, to explore and understand the history of the French presence in America. (https://www.mcq.org/en/informations/maf). An introductory video sets the stage for the visit, which recently included an exhibition  entitled « The Rediscovered Colony” a fascinating look at artifacts found on the Cartier-Roberval archeological site.

Musée de l’Amérique Francophone

A permanent exhibition, “People of Québec…Then and Now” at the Museum of Civilization (https://www.mcq.org/en/exposition?id=26622&intcid=ban|accueil|boites|People_of_QubecThen_and_Now) focuses on the history of the city and “This is Our Story:  First Nations and Inuit* in the 21st Century”  features the history and culture of the eleven Aboriginal nations of Québec, a population of about 90,000. (https://www.mcq.org/en/exposition?id=26532&intcid=ban|accueil|carousel|This_is_Our_Story|enexpositionid26532) This museum is stop number 3 on the Red Line.

I also enjoyed the St. Louis Forts-and-Châteaux National Historic Site museum/archaelogic dig  « under the boardwalk » where you’ll find (not love, per the Drifters’ song of the 60’s) but a guided tour of the ruins of what was once the official residence and seat of power of the French and British governors for more than 200 years. (http://www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/qc/saintlouisforts/index.aspx) This boardwalk is the Terrasse Dufferin, about 5 city blocks long, perfect for a stroll atop the  cliff almost 200 feet above the St Lawrence River.

Video exhibit inside the St. Louis Forts-and-Châteaux National Historic Site museum

Musée Huron-Wendat,  a museum accessible by a free shuttle bus from the traffic circle outside of the tourist office and directly in front of the Chateau Frontenac, is dedicated to promoting the heritage of the Wendat people with a  mandate to teach and popularize the history, culture and art of the Wendat people and of other First Nations. (http://tourismewendake.ca/en/activities/huron-wendat-museum/)

An exceptional collection of Inuit art is on display at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, (https://www.mnbaq.org/en) which this past summer inaugurated the Pierre Lassonde Pavillon on Grande Allée St. Installations, contemporary Québec art, and the monumental fresco by Jean-Paul Riopelle “Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg – thirty paintings forming a triptych almost 130 feet long,  are highlights. A perfect visit would culminate, as ours did, at the Museums’ MC Lepage gastronomic restaurant of Star Chef Marie Chantal Lepage for an unforgettable meal.  This museum is stop number 10 on the Red Line.

Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec

A short walk from the museum is Avenue Cartier, with unique shops and its own artistry, in the Montcalm district. From there, instead of the bus, continue by foot along Grande Allée Street to enjoy an outdoor drink at one of the many sidewalk cafes. The Hôtel Château Laurier Québec, at the intersection of Grande Allée Street and Place George-V Ouest is another great option as a base for your Québec City visit. (https://www.hotelchateaulaurier.com/en/)

A walkable city, if you don’t mind hills that rival San Francisco, Québec  has many other neighborhoods worth exploring. I do mind hills actually so I used the HopOn HopOff map to figure out what stops would save the most climbing. That’s how I came to HopOff at the lively shopping district of Nuovo Saint Roche. This neighborhood is stop number 2 on the Red Line. Wouldn’t you know that these NYC East Village-style shops wouldn’t open until noon so I only got to window shop at a cute store named “Si Les Objets Pouvalent Parler.”

Back on the bus for transport to Rue du Petit Champlain, an historic area that I visited several times during my days in the city. Quartier Petit-Champlain, North America’s oldest commercial district, is chock full of restaurants and boutiques housed in 17th– and 18th-century buildings. Here there are also several more museums worth a visit for those seeking more history.

The funicular up to the Chateau was definitely preferable to the hilly staircase climb, which is what I took one day, following my lunch at Cochon Dinque, a cute restaurant ideal for people watching. Another time it was Hop back on the bus for the rest of the circular visit ending back at the Chateau.

Cochon Dinque

Thus you can easily visit the Upper Town and Lower Town of Québec City, North America’s oldest walled city.

Our  HopOn HopOff package included  the red, green, and blue lines for two consecutive days which gave me time for some further afield visits. I took the 2 pm departure for a short ride out of the city to the Montmorency waterfall.

Montmorency Falls

Twenty minutes later we were dropped off at the base of the Falls, where you can witness the impressive natural phenomenon that is higher than Niagara Falls. Before our tour bus’s 4 pm return, I had time to ride the cable car up to the top of the Falls, walk across the suspension bridge to gaze down at the majesty and then cable car back down. A zipline view is also available, no thank you.

Another mini excursion can be had aboard the Québec City-Lévis Ferry — a commuter ferry for cars, bikes and walk-ons — for a quick visit to Levis Island. From the ferry port you can climb the stairs for a walk around this island’s historic district or simply ride the next departure back to Québec City for the spectacular view from the boat, reminiscent of tourists riding New York City’s Staten Island Ferry for a view of the Statue of Liberty. (https://www.traversiers.com/en/home/)

View from aboard the Québec City-Lévis Ferry

I also enjoyed a tour of the small museum of artifacts donated by the Sisters who lived in in Le Monastère des Augustines a restored 17th century monastery, now a hotel, still dedicated to healing. (http://monastere.ca/en)

I’ve described a busy non-stop see everything visit to Québec, yet I could be tempted back to to Le Monastère des Augustines to partake of their special sleep package. Of most appeal is the package called Sleep regeneration and wellness designed to promote sleep and cellular regeneration.

Sleep better to live better is the theme of this package and includes a 3, 5, or 7-night stay designed with this philosophy: “Insomnia, short nights and frequent waking drain our energies and limit our cells’ metabolic activity. As a result, our overall health is affected by lack of sleep.”

Highlights of the package include:

  • Accommodation in a restored original cloister (choice of authentic or contemporary room)
  • 3 healthy meals per day – vitality breakfast in silence
  • Holistic health consultation and evaluation
  • Massage, reflexology, breathing, relaxation treatments
  • Daily activities: meditation, yoga, Pilates, dance, Qi Gong
  • Access to the museum and the heritage site

If a vacation to Québec City could be assigned keywords, tag this one Food, Culture, Art, History, Fun.

For more information visit http://www.quebecregion.com/en/

By Lisa Skriloff, Editor, Multicultural Travel News

All photos by Lisa Skriloff

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2016


Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the New France Festival in Québec City from August 3-7

The 20th Anniversary of the  New France Festival that will take place in Québec City from August 3-7 under the theme “Imagine America”.
The festival will feature over 400 shows, with 200 artists performing in Old Québec, mainly at the Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site, which is designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The New France Festival welcomes over 200,000 visitors each year to rejoice in gastronomical activities, historic reenactments, and take part in historic lectures, showcasing with humor the 17th and 18th century period when Québec was a French colony.

“As we prepare to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation in 2017, it seems more important than ever to support events that help Canadians discover their rich heritage in an entertaining and original way. Thanks to the talent of the artists, artisans and historical performers showcased during the New France Festival, citizens can dive into the heart of what life was like in the time of their ancestors”, said The Honorable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Highlights include:

  • Flavor’s Market for foodies: Themed gourmet experiences, barbecues and local produce will be available for food lovers at the Flavor’s Market. Visitors will get a chance to sample food delicacies inspired from Huron-Wendat, the Celtic era and Acadia;
  • Music shows at the TD Stage for music lovers:  Music is a major part of the festival, with a variety of concerts every night. This year visitors can enjoy performances by Sally Folk, Nicolas Pellerin et les Grands Hurleurs- proud winners of two “Traditional Album of the Year”, Félix Awards, La Volée D’Castors and many others. Further, Acadia and Senegal will perform during the International Francophonie Day celebrations on August 5th. From Acadia, visitors can enjoy performances by Joseph Edgar, Annie Blanchard and Arthur Comeau;

The Opening Day parade- August 3, 7 pm – The Opening Day parade will feature a historical version of New France float, composed of ships on wheels. These new structures will march alongside the traditional Giants – a parade of giant effigies.Visitors can rent period costumes in town and participate in the parade along with locals.

Thursday, Jul 07, 2016


Two Weeks in Sicily: A How-To Guide for Do-It-Yourselfers for Crowdsourcing the Ideal Itinerary
 
Two Weeks in Sicily: A How-To Guide for Do-It-Yourselfers for Crowdsourcing the
Ideal Itinerary
or
How I Found the Swing Dance Community in Sicily

The Assignment – Plan a 2-week vacation in Sicily around my birthday date in June.

Our Priorities – Spend the vacation money on food, wine and sightseeing; save on air travel and hotels. No rental car – public transportation only between cities. Sleep late whenever possible. Include vacation days from the vacation. Find places to go swing dancing anywhere in Sicily.

About us/Interests– A foodie couple who likes to dance, we seek out rooftop views and seaside dining. We like to walk and use our steps tracker to rack up the miles daily.

Crowdsourcing – use Facebook and Linkedin to get advice from friends and connections; Google and TripAdvisor for advice from the rest of the world.

Getting Started – Airfare first

Our dates were flexible around the end of May through mid-June so we sought out the best fare by any date and also our non-stop preference. Found the best rate (traveling from NYC’s JFK Airport) on Meridiana Airlines, non-stop round trip to Palermo (PMO) leaving Memorial Day (Monday, May 30), with a return on Monday June 13. Rate was $786 using Expedia to book. We considered a return from Catania but that airfare was $150 more and would have included a stop. Meridiana, (Air Italy is owned 100% by Meridiana) turned out to be a gem – a low-cost option I plan to use again for travel elsewhere in Europe, through Palermo. (Their flights from JFK are scheduled through October and at the rate of $599 rt!)

Now that we determined our trip would begin and end in Palermo, we filled the itinerary from there.

Birthday dinner next

By googling “best restaurant in Sicily” I picked Duomo Restaurant in Ragusa for my birthday dinner. An email to info@ristoranteduomo.it confirmed our reservation for that date and then the entire trip was planned backwards from there.

Allow me to share the benefit of my 70-80 hours of research planning this trip. Ready for every detail you could possibly need to know? Read on for our logistics-oriented review.

Crowdsourcing the rest

Facebook – Cities to visit :  I searched “#Sicily” for pages and ideas and also posted this query on my page: “Anyone been to ‪#‎Sicily on vacation and have advice for us? hotel recommendations, restaurants, # of days in each city, getting around between cities, visiting ‪#‎Lampedusa? just starting our planning so any info is welcome!” Replies from friends and connections steered us to the cities we ultimately chose, though we couldn’t squeeze in Lampedusa on this trip.

Where to Dance: a Facebook search for “swing dancing” led us to the fb pages for the groups Sicily In SwingSwing Cats Italyand Sicily Swing Society and the website http://www.swingfever.it/eventi/. Reaching out to the organizers and also members of the groups led us to Manuela from Catania who told us about the upcoming swing dance weekend in Palermo – The Swing Godfathers Swing Dance Festival – on the dates we would be there. We clicked we’re “Going” on Events pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/1670968536509196/ and six weeks later met Manuela there! A swing band from France was the featured live band, completing our international experience.

IMG_2430

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TripAdvisor – having used TripAdvisor only a few times in the past, I knew the website only as a place to read the opinions posted by total strangers about a hotel or attraction. I had no idea that cities have destination experts. Reading the posts for Sicily under “Forum,” I found that a “Vagabonda” was replying to all the questions with specific answers and intelligent, helpful, friendly and optimistic advice. Who is this Vagabonda and would he/she reply to my questions? Yes! And I ended up getting the majority of the trip information I needed from exchanges with Vagabonda and also by reading her answers to other posted questions. The replies are posted non-stop day and night and so fast that, briefly, I suspected Vagabonda was an auto-reply robot with artificial intelligence capabilities to read the keywords and respond with pre-programmed replies. Not so! At the very least though, perhaps, Vagabonda is more than one person since she has contributed 87,000 posts. I watched as her posts calmed down many a frantic Sicily travel planner with her results-oriented answers and her courteous “Prego” with each reply. Very helpful resource when you are just getting started with your planning and you don’t know what you don’t know.

Booking the Hotels

Expedia offered a 25% discount on hotels booked through their website because we had used them to book our airfare. The hotels had to be booked in the next 8 days to get the discount so we had our work cut out for us to research cities, decide how many nights in each and select hotels. Then, even though we had booked each hotel via Expedia, I did email each hotel with various questions, whether it was to request early check in at our first hotel since our flight arrived to Palermo at 5:30 am, a request for city information, a question about the nearest airport bus stop, etc.

Palermo- 4 nights at beginning of trip; 2 nights at end

Hotel for arrival in Palermo

Eurostars Centrale Palace, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 327; reservations@eurostarscentralepalace.com

We picked this hotel for our arrival days in Palermo, which taxi drivers knew as Centrale Palace, from the photos on the website showing a restaurant with a rooftop view, and its proximity to Cuattro Canti, in the historic area that we wanted to visit. It also was near the Tourist Office and a stop for the free historic center circular bus, the Navette gratuite. The Expedia price was $125 per night plus taxes and fees. Once I had found this hotel, I also cross referenced it on tour packages websites to find that it was a featured and recommended hotel on their itineraries. The tour companies I looked into included high end Tauck Tours, Europe travel expert Rick Steves and Sicily tour experts.

Transportation PMO Airport to Palermo Hotel – Airport shuttle Bus line called Prestia e Comandè www.prestiaecomande.it

Exiting the airport from the Arrivals area, turn right and walk a short distance to find the shuttle bus stop. A posted sign indicated the bus schedule which was every 30 minutes. The ticket window wasn’t open at 6 am, and contrary to what we had been told, the bus driver did not accept credit cards for the 6.30 euro trip. Back into the airport it was to get euros, which we had been planning to do later in the day in Palermo. Our bank cards were, inexplicably, not accepted in the cash machine (though we had notified our banks in advance of our international travel) so we secured euros at the money exchange counter. Later we were able to withdraw euros when we chose only from among the amounts offered on the ATM screen.

The airport bus makes 9 stops in Palermo, but our arrival hotel had advised us to ride to the last stop, the Central Bus and Train Station at Piazza Giulio Cesare (Staz. Centrale). They also suggested that we ask the driver to drop us at the corner of Via Roma and Via Vittorio Emanuelle, and since we were the only ones on the bus at that point he dropped us there.

No, we do not speak Italian. But having researched key Italian phrases and their pronunciation using http://www.fodors.com/language/italian, with its 150 phrases with audio clips, plus trying to get by using Spanish with an Italian accent, we were able to make ourselves understood much of the time. 

Sightseeing Palermo

Here are the highlights of what we enjoyed in Palermo during our 4 days at the beginning of the trip and 2 at the end:

Street Markets – Ballaro Market, Mercato Capo, Vucciria market and the flea market, Mercato delle Pulci

Cappuchin Monks catacomb visit Catacombe dei Capuccini  http://www.catacombepalermo.it/

 International Puppet Museum – Pasqualino  Piazzetta Antonio-Pasqualino 5 I – (Il Museo internazionale delle marionette) 5 euro entry

Palermo-International-Puppet-Museum

Palermo, International Puppet Museum

The Four Corners (Quattro Canti)

The Cathedral (SS. Maria Assunta)- Corso Vittorio Emanuele

Teatro Massimo Opera House – piazza G. Verdi visiteguidate@teatromassimo.it – Guided tours at 8 euros per person, lasting about 30 minutes, are offered on a rotating schedule of English and Italian, German, French and Spanish.

Restaurants in Palermo

Lunches and/or Dinners at:

Trattoria del Pesce Fresco, Foro Italico Umberto I, 3,- The last stop on the Navette gratuite, before its return on its circular line, left us at Porta Felice and that is where we found this outdoor restaurant for a delicious grilled swordfish drizzled with balsamic vinegar for me and gnocchi pesto for him. We ordered a liter of wine with lunch. Now we know – a liter of wine is more than a bottle. And always a good value. In fact, at another restaurant, wine was offered on the menu at either 3 euros per glass or 5 euros for a liter. Our choice for the rest of the trip.

Grilled-swordfish-drizzed-with-Balsamic-Vinegar-at-Trattoria-del-Pesce-Fresco

Grilled swordfish drizzed with Balsamic Vinegar at Trattoria del Pesce Fresco

Perciasacchi Via del Monte Di Pieta’, 5 (Capo District)http://www.perciasacchi.it/en/ Via del Monte Di Pieta’, 5, info@perciasacchi.it. Very pleased with this restaurant which we had learned about from The New York Times article, 36 Hours in Palermo at  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/18/travel/what-to-do-in-36-hours-in-palermo-sicily.html?_r=0. The restaurant was in walking distance from our Eurostars Centrale Palace hotel. Hooray for individual pizzas!

Buatta, Corso Vittorio Emanuelle, 176, buattapalermo.it. The crowd gathered outside waiting for a free table was telling – this is a well known tourist place. But not many American tourists – I heard French, Spanish and Italian spoken. Later on in Catania, we saw that Buatta was a chain. We started with the tasting platter of appetizers including the crunchy sardines. I selected the Pasta Norma, a classic Sicilian dish with eggplant and ricotta cheese, the first of many times I ordered this on this trip. Service was s-l-o-w, the first of many times we experienced that on this trip.

Antica Focacceria San Francesco 58 Via Alessandro Paternostro. THE place to come for focaccia but the pizza also looked divine, and so was my Pasta Norma. Be sure to get the lemon granita – a kind of slushy sorbet that comes in a bowl!

Antica-Focacceria-San-Francesco

Antica Focacceria San Francesco

Pasta-Norma-at-Antica-Focacceria-San-Francesco

Pasta Norma at Antica Focacceria San Francesco

Osteria Lo Bianco, Via Emerico Amari, 104, Neighborhood: Politeama. Down the block from our departure hotel, Hotel Garibaldi, we had our last night dinner here. I’m a big fan now of spaghetti with bread crumbs. Sounds like something you would feed a 5-year old! (There were a few of those there that night.) Also had our last night dessert of a cannolo (that’s how you order just one.)

Bellotero Ristorante,Via Giorgio Castriota, 3Neighborhood: Politeama. The most non touristy restaurant of our trip. Not only were we the only non-Italians, the diners seemed to be like guests in a home. It didn’t look like they were ordering off the menu. Their food just started coming. The restaurant had an Upper-East-Side-NY clubby feel. We were treated to a post dinner moscato on the house.

Alla 59 Restaurant, Via Cavour- This restaurant, across the street from the Teatro Massimo, was the perfect spot for a late lunch while waiting for our English tour of the Opera House to begin. Consistently off sync with the Sicilian restaurant lunch and dinner meal hours throughout our entire 2 week trip, we constantly had to seek out tourist restaurants that remained open during off hours. Here we found lunch at 4 pm, while waiting for our 530 pm English language guided tour to begin. The menu offered a dozen different pizzas – easy to find one with ingredients you want.

Cocktails and “happy hour appetizers”:

Rooftop cocktails with a view at La Rinascente department store penthouse floor,Via Roma 289 Our 8 euro drinks (a Negroni and an Old Fashioned) came with an appetizer spread of meats, cheeses, olives, mini sandwich bites and more

Kursaal Kalhesa,21 Foro Umberto I,  Neighborhood: Tribunali  http://www.kursaalkalhesa.com/ Nice quiet spot for pre dinner drinks in the outdoor garden. Next time we will have dinner. No dancing on the night we were there since it was pre-season early June. Will return on a Saturday on our next trip.

Kursaal-Kalhesa-restaurant-Palermo

Kursaal Kalhesa restaurant, Palermo

Late Breakfast :

Antico Caffe SpinnatoVia Principe di Belmonte 107-15Palermo http://www.spinnato.it/Neighborhood: Politeama. This historic café was still serving café latte and coronets (croissants) when we sought out our first repast way past breakfast time. At least we didn’t hear the waiters whisper amongst themselves like at other cafes (“They want colazione, at this hour!”). Walking distance from our Hotel Garibaldi.

Half – Day Trips from Palermo

Cefalù – one hour train ride from Central Station, schedule available at http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en , 5.60 euros each way. When we looked at the website the night before to select a departure time, we didn’t see any of the morning departures we had previously considered. Where was the 10 am, and noon departure? The only departure available was at 13:06. We went down to ask the front desk to help us look at the website and that is when we were informed that the next day was a holiday, June 2, Day of the Republic and a holiday schedule would be in effect. We were advised not to book our tickets online but to just go to the train station the next day to get our tickets. We arrived early enough in case there was a noon departure. There wasn’t but a good surprise was a rousing 4th of July style concert by the train employee band – The William Tell Overture was one I recognized. The first of many “bad to good” surprises this trip. Arrival at Cefalù shortly after 2 pm gave us just enough time to make our way to The Cathedral (Il Duomo), lunch at Al Porticciolo by 3 pm (fresh fish and a seaside table), a walk along the beach via Luongomare and 630 pm train return.

Cefalù-cathedral

Cefalù cathedral

Mondello – city bus #806 leaves from Piazza Sturzo Square in the Politeama Neighborhood. Another day we did a late pm mini excursion to this beach area of Palermo. A 20 minute bus ride, a walk along the beach. Tried to go to bye bye blues, info@byebyeblues.it but it was closed so return bus less than 2 hours later.

Mondello-beach

Mondello  beach

We considered but ruled outa visit to Mafia museum in Corleone because there was only one bus, at 8.15 am. (info@cidmacorleone.it) and that was too early for us.

Travel Palermo to Catania

Both bus and train were our options and we chose the 2 hr 50 min train at 13.50 euros for comfort.  We bought the tickets at the station two days before departure, because we happened to be there on our return from Cefalù. http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

Catania – 3 nights

Hotel Royal Catania Via A. Di Sangiuliano 337, info@hotelroyalcatania.it , http://win.hotelroyalcatania.it/eng/. The Expedia price was $111 per night plus taxes and fees. We were glad we were assigned room 305, with its private roof garden with a 360 degree view of Mt. Etna and the port, complete with sun lounge chairs and a small table and two chairs for our evening wine (purchased around the corner at a small store, MUSEO CROCIFERI – Art and ChocolateVia Crociferi 21). A hot tub on the roof garden was not yet in operation for the summer. (Note to self: email a hotel in advance and ask “Will the rooftop hot tub I see featured prominently on your website be in operation on the dates we will be at your hotel?) We took a taxi, immediately available at the taxi stand at the train station, to the hotel, a 15 minute ride for about 10 euros.

A roof top. A bottle of Sicilian wine (We discovered, enjoyed and then repeatedly chose the Nero d’avola). An evening nightcap tradition we started in Catania and continued at our next 2 hotels.

Sightseeing in Catania

WWII Museum (Museo Storico dello Sbarco in Sicilia 1943 (closed Mondays)  4 euros

Cinema Museum Museo Del Cinema  4 euros

Outdoor Fish Market – La Pescheria – Mercato del Pesce

Walk along Via Etnea shopping street

Villa Bellini, Catania’s public gardens

Teatro Greco Romano

Castello Ursino gallery exhibit

Restaurants in Catania

Lunches and/or Dinners at:

Sicilia in Bocca, just down from the outdoor fish market, enjoyed the whole fish, presented and deboned.

Ristorante La Paglia Antica Trattoria. Actually located within the outdoor fish market, so close to the vendors I wished I had worn my rubber boots as well! Had the fresh sardines appetizer

Cocktails and “happy hour appetizers”

Rooftop cocktails with a view:

Etnea Roof Bar & Restaurant in the UNA Hotel Palace, Via Etnea 218 – what better way to view Mt. Etna, than with a pair of bellini cocktails? If you feel like a bite, I would suggest the meat and cheese platter over the cheese toasts we ordered. That sounded like it would be a bruschetta but it was a cheese sandwich.

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Bellini cocktails, view of Mt. Etna, Etnea Roof Bar, UNA Hotel Palace, Catania

Day Trip from Catania to Taormina

We took the Interbus line bus from Catania to Taormina, schedule at  http://www.interbus.it/Home.aspx (4.9 euros) and made the return by train. (4.3 euros)

We used this website http://shipsofmessina.altervista.org/Scali_2016.pdf to view the cruise ship schedule and chose a day when no cruise ships would be calling at the time we were there.

Did I already mention we liked to walk? Our daily steps goal, established by our individual fitbits is 10,000. On Taormina day we reached 23,000! That’s ten miles. Starting with the 20 minute walk to the bus station from the Royal Hotel.

Sightseeing in Taormina

We used this website http://www.hotelvillaschuler.com/events/events-2016/ to learn about gallery shows and events around Taormina on the day we visited. Saw the wonderful Sicilian cart exhibit at the Palazzo dei Congressi Exhibit Hall and met the curator who had collected them all.

Visit to the Greek Theatre, 10 euros, or free if it is your birthday

Walk Corso Umberto to Piazza IX Aprile

Lunch at Ristorante La Cisterna del Moro . LaCisternadelMoro@gmail.com.  View of the sea from the outdoor (covered) dining area. Spaghetti carbonara!

Public gardens

Cable car down to the beach, 3 euros

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Taormina, cable cars down to the beach

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Taormina, view of beach from cable car

Then taxi to the train station for the return to Catania. The train station at Taormina/Giardini Naxos which apparently was a filming location for The Godfather.

Travel Catania to Ragusa

Catania to Ragusa by bus – hourly departures, direct, 1 h 55 min, 7.90 eur 

Interbus service – http://www.interbus.it/

Buses arrive in Modern Ragusa (Ragusa Superiore) and from there took a taxi to the old section, Ragusa Ibla to our hotel.

Ragusa – 2 nights

HOTEL DELL’OROLOGIO, Via Ioppolo 12, info@hoteldellorologio.com. This hotel had the biggest room of our stay, with a queen bed and also 2 twin beds in our room and a big walk-in shower. What we didn’t know was that the hotel was up a steep hill on a pedestrian street so our taxi driver could not drop us off in front of the hotel, only at the bottom of the hill. Luckily, I was able to enlist Claudia at the front desk to help us carry our suitcases up to the hotel and to our room. This hotel offered a rooftop seating area which turned out to be ours alone each evening for our nightcap. Bottle of wine in Ragusa purchased at the store within Gelati di Vini. The hotel room was equipped with a bottle opener and glasses! View of the hills with lights glittering from the homes. And a starry night.

Ragusa dining

Cucina e Vino Trattoria, cucinaevino.eu. This restaurant was recommended by a friend of a friend found on facebook who said it was her family’s favorite eatery of their entire Sicily trip. A cute corner outdoor restaurant on a lovely night was indeed a favorite of ours.

Al Borgo restaurant had the advantage of being the only restaurant open at our odd arrival time of 3 pm. Salads, pizzas, focaccia fit the bill for a fast lunch.

Gelati di Vini, Piazza Duomo 20 http://www.gelatidivini.it/, Recommended by another friend as their favorite place in Sicily for gelato. Had the Cioccolato al Peperoncino flavor (Chile infused chocolate) here and also picked up a bottle of wine for our rooftop evening.

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Gelati di Vini, Piazza Duomo, Ragusa, gelato Cioccolato al Peperoncino flavor (Chile infused chocolate)

Birthday dinner at Ristorante Duomo, Via Capitano Bocchieri, 31, -our multi-course dinner with the wine pairings was a fitting meal for this destination restaurant. We chose the chef’s surprise option, which changes daily, depending on his whim. 

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Ristorante Duomo, Ragusa

Ragusa sightseeing

A half day of wandering around was enough time to see the Duomo Cathedral, Museo di San Giorgio and enjoy the Giardini Iblei Gardens.

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Duomo, Ragusa

Half-Day Trip from Ragusa to Modica:The chocolate capital of Sicily

By Bus http://www.aziendasicilianatrasporti.it/ 4.2 euros round trip.

Trenino Barocco – A trenino, as they call it, a little tourist sightseeing train excursion, with departures from outside the Tourist Office, makes a 45-minute tour from Corso Umberto to Modica Alta. An open air train on wheels takes you up the steep steep hill to Upper Modica and back, or can leave you at Belvedere (the highest panoramic point in Modica) for the walk down. Teninobarocco.it, 5 euros

Then a visit to the Chocolate Museum

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Italy, with Sicily, made out of Chocolate, Modica Chocolate Museum

Modica dining: Lunch at A putia ro vinu, Aputiarovinu.com, 15 euro lunch deal

Chocolates purchased at Motycafe and Antica Dolceria Bonajuto

Travel Ragusa to Siracusa/Ortigia

Interbus from Ragusa to Siracusa non stop or  with one bus change, 7.2 euros

http://www.interbus.it/  A windy, steep road plus a Kamikaze driver intent on passing every truck, even 2 or 3 trucks at a time, even on blind curves, made for a very queasy ride.

Ortigia – 2 nights

Hotel Gutkowski Lungomare di Levante Elio Vittorini, 26, info@guthotel.itwww.guthotel.it.

The only hotel not booked through Expedia but directly by email. Rate 226 euros for 2 nights.

(Note to self: email a hotel in advance and ask “Will the rooftop 5 pm complimentary granita for guests, that I see featured prominently on your website be offered on the dates we will be at your hotel?). This hotel had a second floor outdoor rooftop seating area with a view of the sea where  each evening we had our nightcap, as well – Vodka tonics purchased at the hotel bar and brought up to the roof!

Siracusa/Ortigia Sightseeing

Jewish  Mikva, Guided tours, on the hour from 9 am to 7 pm,  start at The Residenza Alla Giudecca, Via Alagona 52, where they were discovered during renovations of the hotel. www.allagiudecca.it/en/jewish-bath.html;  allagiudecca@hotmail.com;

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Jewish Mikva tour, The Residenza Alla Giudecca, Ortygia

Boat tour around the island and out to the caves- There are boats all along the two bridges as you enter and depart Ortigia. We took the one found on Ponte Nuovo

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Boat tour around Ortygia

Papyrus Museum, Museo del Papiro, 5 euro entry

Restaurants:

Ristorante Dioniso, via Claudio Maria Arezzo 29- friendly owner/host, fabulous meal. We were impressed by the couple dining next to us. From Chicago, they told us. They had appetizers, salad, a full size pasta course, steak  and dessert.

Lemon Granita at Voglia Matta,  Via Umberto – considered the best in the city

Punto G – Dinner with live music, puntogsiracusa.it, via Saverio Landolina, 1. I became suspicious of the mixed grill platter after I was made aware that elsewhere horsemeat was also on the menu

 Travel Siracusa to Palermo

Syracuse to Palermo  – took the  Interbus line,  http://www.interbus.it/ 12 euros, It’s a 3 H 25” trip so happily a rest stop is scheduled. On Saturdays there were only two options, 8 am and 2 pm.

Palermo – 2 nights

Hotel Garibaldi – GHS Hotelsvia Emerico Amari, 146, garibaldi@ghshotels.itwww.ghshotels.ithttp://www.hotelgaribaldipalermo.it/

After our two week tour of Sicily we returned to Palermo for our last two nights of the vacation before our return flight and, indeed, the stop for the Airport shuttle bus was located across the Square from this hotel, in the Politeama district. The Expedia price was $97 per night plus taxes and fees. Out the door at 5 am for the 5:15 airport bus, departing from the Square just steps from the hotel.

The food was the standout for us on this 2-week Sicily trip. Pasta twice in one day, even! Apparently not an opinion shared by a fellow passenger on the return flight to New York. Heard upon deplaning “Finally, home to get some good Pizza.” And then a final pleasant surprise from the Customs agent looking at my passport upon re-entry into the U.S. His question: “Was this a birthday trip?”

Miscellaneous Tips

Bone up on the metric system: many a directions were provided to us as “The hotel is 1000 meters down this road.” Is that close or far when wheeling luggage?

How to cross the street – A red traffic light does not necessarily mean the cars will stop.  Even when crossing in the pedestrian crosswalk, try this procedure: Make eye contact with the driver. Indicate with your body language if you are going. Hope for the best. Or wait for a local to cross and follow close behind them.

Opening hours– The Museum of Cinema in Ortygia/Siracusa was never open during our 3 days in town, and we kept stopping by. Inquiring about it at the reception desk at the Inn down the street, they could not tell us when it would be open. Basically, like other things in Sicily: “It will be open when you see that it is open.”

Bus and train schedule websites – “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet” applies to schedules posted on the bus and train websites. The websites in Italian are more reliable than the schedules you see when clicking English. At the bus depot, the best way to know if the bus is going to your destination, no matter what the sign on the bus reads, is to ask the driver, \ “Modica?”. Same for the schedule. “Ragusa?” we asked the bus driver. 5: 15 he said. Sad news to us waiting since 3:30 (the time posted on the sign at the Modica bus station) and a different time than the 4 pm we had been told when we bought our tickets at the Ragusa bar/ticket and also different from the 4:20 time on the website.

 
By Lisa Skriloff
 
Tuesday, Jul 07, 2016

Sheva Royal Thai Spa Express – at the corner of “Phuket and Lex”

Sheva Royal Thai Spa was born in Tel Aviv’s luxurious Hilton Hotel as a result of the vision of spa owner, Naomi Hurvitz and her dedication to bring royal Thai culture to Israel. Now she brings the first Sheva Royal Thai Spa to NYC, an express spa model which was created to service the city’s busy clientele. As a native of Thailand, her true appreciation for the rituals associated with her culture has sent Naomi on an extensive journey to provide the Western world with royal Thai culture. This journey resulted in the “Sheva Spa” and a new way of life –  providing the best in holistic mind and body Thai treatments.  Sheva Royal Thai Spa – Express offers a wide range of traditional Thai spa treatments such as a customized Royal Thai foot treatment. Other services offered include body massage, facials and manicures. Convenient membership packages give you unlimited manicures or foot treatments starting at  $67 per month. Sheva Royal Thai Spa – Express is located on “Phuket and Lex” (500 Lexington btw. 47th& 48th). Book online at http://shevaspany.com/book-online/ or visit http://shevaspany.com.

Monday, Mar 03, 2016

 

Diversifying The Visitor Base to The Adirondacks: An Interview at The Wild Center with ca4bdcb4-d1fb-40c6-a874-63f11d4b59adMulticultural Travel News

On a recent visit to Upstate New York for The Adirondacks (Outdoors) Challenge, Multicultural Travel News had the opportunity to learn about diversity in the region. Not bio-diversity, though our trip did coincide with Invasive Species Awareness Week. But how attractions have taken steps to diversify their visitor base and why the State of New York considers diversity a priority.

At a press conference with the Governor, during a chat with tourism officials and a visit to the Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks’ The Wild Center, it became clear that diversity is important to this non-profit organization and indeed to the State.

In an interview, Gavin Landry, Executive Director of Tourism, New York State at Empire State Development, explained how New York has a history of being at the forefront of important issues. “Support of women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, ‘We had emancipation before Lincoln was born,” he noted. “Not only are we large geographically and rich with tremendous assets,” he noted, “our goal for diversity at the agency (is to) create greater awareness, not only (among) ethnic, but LGBT visitors,” as well.”
(An interview with Ross D. Levi, VP, Marketing Initiatives, including LGBT market outreach, will appear in a later issue of Multicultural Travel News.)

“Make every decision for the 6 to 7 generations to come.” “We need all New Yorkers to care or how else will there be protections for the future.” “This is everyone’s Adirondacks.” Comments we heard consistently throughout the long weekend – any could be slogans reflecting their outlook.

Native American history and heritage is also part of the equation. Adirondack, the word itself, might have been an insult that a Mohawk would have hurled at an Algonquin. You ‘Bark Eater’ would have been the translation, implying they were bad at hunting.

Hillarie Logan-Dechene, Director of Philanthropy at The Wild Center pointed to the Visit Adirondacks website http://visitadirondacks.com/first-time-visitors/faqs. “The word ‘Adirondack’ originated as a derogatory term given to the Algonquin tribe by neighboring Mohawk, meaning “barkeaters.””

Multicultural Travel News asked Hillarie Logan-Dechene to discuss The Wild Center’s diversity initiatives and goals:
 

Hillarie Logan-Dechene,
Director of Philanthropy, The Wild Center, Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks

Does The Wild Center have a diversity initiative?The Wild Center is part of an effort (the Adirondack Diversity Advisory Council) that has identified the need to broaden diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender-identity among the Adirondack region’s residents and visitors.  The Wild Center is committed to the importance of working at diversifying our base.

Why is diversifying your visitor base important?
The Wild Center was created so ALL people and nature can thrive together.  Our mission is to ignite an enduring passion for the Adirondacks, where people and nature can thrive together and set an example for the world.  If, for whatever reason, we only serve a segment of the population, we are not meeting our mission.  In addition, part of the reason The Wild Center exists is to help people develop an appreciation for the Adirondack region, and help maintain it for future generations.  If large segments of our population are not familiar with this place, then they will have no interest in stewarding and preserving what is special about the Adirondacks for those future generations.  It is important that all New Yorkers consider the Adirondacks theirs.

Wild Walk, The Wild Center, Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks

Wild Walk, The Wild Center, Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks

How have the demographics changed? 
We have not had an opportunity to formally study the nuances of our changing demographics, but anecdotally we are witnessing a wonderful broadening of the profile of our visitors since the opening of (our latest attraction) Wild Walk on July 4th.  Our visitation is up 400% this year and we are hearing other languages spoken daily, and seeing more ethnic diversity in our guests.  Today for example, I heard Spanish, Russian, Chinese and French spoken in our exhibit and on Wild Walk.

What can visitors see at The Wild Center and Wild Walk?
Opportunities to see, explore, and learn abound at our 54,000-square-foot Center and on our 81-acre campus. A visitor can explore the exhibit halls, meet one of our many animals, watch our swimming river otters, take a woodland walk down to the river Oxbow, canoe the Raquette with a licensed Adirondack guide, or view one of many amazing films produced by The Wild Center. We also feature Planet Adirondack, an exhibit with a giant floating Earth where you can see the planet come alive. (During the) summer, visitors can experience Wild Walk, a chance to walk over the treetops. Wild Walk features a giant spider web suspended above the forest, and an Eagle’s nest at the highest point of Wild Walk. Wild Walk is a brand new feature where visitors can get a truly elevating perspective of the living wild forest and is accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

What are some initiatives you have undertaken already to attract diverse visitors? What are some projects you would like to undertake?
We are actively marketing to a broader base with the help of I Love New York.  They have helped us by using a cross section of media to reach more New Yorkers than ever before.

  • In terms of our educational mission, we would like to serve more inner-city schools.  As a museum based in a rural area, we would like the experience of being in the Adirondacks to be a shared experiences with New York’s youth no matter where they are from; from Brooklyn to Buffalo.
  • We are looking at making our education programs available on distance learning.
  • We hope to work more with partner organizations to convene around issues that are important to our communities.

How is the Wild Center looking to incorporate the “Native American narrative?”
The traditional historical narrative of the Adirondacks had overlooked the history of the native people.  Until very recently, they had been considered just seasonal visitors to the region and not a significant part of the story of the settlement of the region.  To me and many other people, this was a great oversight as there has always been both physical and historical evidence of native people in the region well before white settlement.  The Wild Center, from its opening day has involved the Aquasansne Mohawk in its significant celebrations including its opening day and most recently in the celebration of Wild Walk’s opening.  The Wild Center is interested in exploring a way to give a voice to the native interpretation of our nature exhibits.

A recent New York Times article with the headline, Why are our Parks so White ?, called on Parks to diversify.  How does that dovetail with your mission and goals?
The article in the Times hit home.  The resident population of the Adirondacks is rather monochromatic, but it is a complex story of a mostly rural poor resident popular that is shrinking.  As more and more people move to live in urban and suburban places, small Adirondack towns are losing population base and so the opportunities for a more diverse workforce are more challenging.  However, leaders in the Adirondack have been consciously working on reversing the declining populations for about 7 years (Adirondack Common Ground Alliance) and we have been trying to get infrastructure such as broadband and cell service so people can work remotely in our rural communities. This is making telecommuting more practical and we are starting to see opportunities grow for people who want to live here.  This will, in turn, allow a more diverse work pool to be employed in the region and then when more diverse visitors come to feel more a part of our ecosystem. In terms of The Wild Center’s mission, we want “people and nature to thrive together” and that means having healthy, sustainable well-balanced communities.  Part of this is making sure our communities embrace diversity in our people just as we embrace diversity in nature.

The Wild Center

The Wild Center

What are the initiatives/projects you are seeking funding for?
We are seeking funds to attract new more diverse audiences, such as Chinese tourists, diverse millennials from New York and Canada, and also to expand our programing to a broader audience.  For example we have a Youth Climate Program, that has been very successful in the North Country and we would like to offer the program to more high school and college students around the state and around the country. On our wish list, we would like to have webpages that offer both our basic information as well as some key content pages in different languages. We currently have a page in Mandarin information page, and would like to expand the efforts to include pages in Spanish, French, German and Japanese.  In addition to a web presence, we would like to have some on-site translation of our exhibit content available as well. (During a recent)  I Love NY’s first Tourism Sales Mission to China in March… I was delighted to learn that the Mandarin word for beautiful scenery is a combination of the symbols for mountain and water – in the Adirondacks we have both!

Should a corporation of agency wish to help support The Wild Center’s efforts to service a more diverse audience, they can contact  Hillarie Logan-Dechene, Director of Philanthropy, The Wild Center, Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks, Tupper Lake, NY  hlogan-dechene@wildcenter.org, 518-359-7800, ext. 103 www.wildcenter.org

By Lisa Skriloff

Monday, Oct 10, 2015


 

Cartagena, Colombia

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Cartagena, Colombia, By Lisa Skriloff

(original full length article)

Wipe that outdated reputation from your mind. My recent vacation to Cartagena, Colombia introduced me to the beauty of this UNESCO declared World Heritage City and moves it to the top of my list of recommended destinations.

The country’s famous export? Think coffee. Safety concerns? Why, Disney Cruise Line “calls” there now. What surer hallmark of safety “stamp of approval” than Disney bringing its guests to this city? Cartagena is another in the line of cities transformed from “terrorism to tourism” as the then president Uribe declared in 2002.

My pre-Colombian vacation knowledge was limited to ceviche, arepas and salsa.

Now I know about champeta (a kind of reggaeton music and dance,) lulo (a fruit) and Getsemaní (neighborhood of Cartagena.)

First the food. Coconut as an ingredient seems to be the chef’s darling and a welcome flavor it is, in rice, drinks and pie.  I had been advised to be on the lookout for “Limonada de coco,” a drink that looks like a piña colada and tastes like a coconut lemonade. Once I tried it, a second one was on the way.

Other new fruit to try included “lulo” (a little orange with a lemony pineapple flavor) and, available every morning on the breakfast buffet, a “tomate de arbol” which gives the sensation in your mouth of eating a tomato but tastes like a citrusy apricot.

The coconut pie was my immediate favorite on the first night, at dinner at Restaurante Club de Pesca in the Manga area of the city. The restaurant is located in the ruins of Fort San Sebastian del Pastelillo, and tables overlook the Cartagena bay. From some tables you glimpse the water looking through the fortress wall cut outs where the cannons once were positioned.  ¡Muy romántico!

If you like dining and drinking in restored ruins, also pay a visit to Casa de la Cerveza, located on top of the city wall, at the end of Calle Arsenal with views across the water toward Castillo de San Felipe fortress.

This part of town, Getsemaní, is the rehabilitated section, the Times Square of Cartagena, if you will, once seedy, now social, or perhaps better compared to Chueca in Madrid, a revitalized hipster zone.

Another night we ate at Cánde, specializing in “100% Cartagenera cuisine”. A ceviche starter, the coconut rice, the beef stew with flavor of brown sugar were accompanied by a short “typical dance show” performance. The owners, apparently, are fans of the live dance show as they also offer one at their other restaurant, El Burlador de Sevilla. There, a flamenco dancer and guitarists give 30 minute shows throughout the evening. At this Spanish restaurant we enjoyed a kind of nouveau paella, tapas and, of course, their sangría. The performer (loved her flamenco dance to “My Way”) gave a shout out to a celebrity diner in the audience, Señorita Bolivar (a local version of “Miss New York State” : Cartagena is located in the “department” of Bolivar.)

At El Santísimo (“the most holy one”) Bar Restaurant just reading the menu was a delight with dishes with names such as “Melchor, Gaspar y Baltazar”, “Sacrilege” and the main course I selected “San Martín Pescador,” a fresh fish fillet with calamari and shrimp sauce. Desserts, of course, are La Envidia (Envy,) La Pereza (Sloth,) Wrath, Lust, Pride and my favorite, Gluttony, a brownie with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce.

Fittingly, El Santísimo, in the historic Old Town, is just a block away from the luxury hotel Sofitel Santa Clara built in a 17thcentury convent. Also in the Old Town, which is surrounded by the city walls, we visited the Zenú Gold Museum, walked across the tiled floor in honor of the Miss Colombias of the past, and toured down the Colonial streets past the Teatro Heredia, Catedral de Cartagena, the Museum of Modern Art and the obligatory stop at Plaza de Santo Domingo to rub the sculpture of Gertrudis, by Fernando Botero. A coffee appreciation lesson at Café San Alberto and an emerald jewelry making class at Fundación Escuela de Joyería del Caribe netted me two suitable-for-framing certificates of attendance.

But my favorite class, the highlight of the entire trip to Cartagena, was my $38 private salsa lesson at Crazy Salsa dance studio in the Old Town, just down the street from the Clock Tower entrance.  During my one hour class, I perfected my entry level salsa dance, learning how to do the turns my instructor Mauricio called the “Setenta” (70) and the “Coca cola”. The “cross body lead” I knew how to do but here in Cartagena he says they call it the “Dile que no.” (Tell him “no.”) Mauricio added in a bit of what their brochure calls “Lady styling” and I learned how to move my hands, like, he said “you are painting a wall.”

After that I was ready for Donde Fidel, a nearby salsa bar with dancing with its collection of salsa legends photos on the wall, and Café Havana, in Getsemaní, where the live salsa band starts at 1130 pm and I got to practice my new salsa moves (thank you Luis!).

Other worthwhile sightseeing stops were at the San Felipe fortress and the La Popa monastery situated at the highest point of Cartagena, with fabulous views of the harbor area (and from where I spotted the Disney cruise ship pointed out by the passengers on their ‘Best of Cartagena’ day excursion.)

We stayed at the Radisson Cartagena Ocean Pavillion Hotel, directly on the beach, with rooms with a view of the Caribbean Sea, about 15 minutes from the Old City, and just north of the airport. (Colombia is the only country in South America with both a Caribbean and Pacific Ocean coastline.) Nearby is another beach resort, Hotel Las Américas Resort, Spa and Convention Center with a notable infinity pool and beach area with attendants.

Less luxurious but rewarding in its own way was our canoe tour of the nearby mangrove swamp. Ecotours Boquilla offers a one hour excursion into the heart of the mangrove forest into tunnels and out again. If the canoes seem tippy, not to worry. As we circled a bend I noticed a local walking by in the water, which must have been less than 2 feet deep.

A day tour by speedboat brought us to Rosario islands for a back to nature swim in the clear water and a grilled fish lunch in the hut. Not too rustic – there was wifi (password Laguna01). That’s about as far back to nature as I go.

A final excursion was offered: La Chiva. The wooden Chiva buses are brightly painted, open-air nighttime party buses with benches for seats, with a live trio band on board, making stops around the city, as liquor flows freely from bottles passed around. To board, you find your footing and climb up a ladder; hence our guide advised us not to wear a skirt for this excursion. Once up there, the party bus host kept the mood high as he encouraged riders to sing, drink, raise their hands, cheer, yell and for the men — row by row – to pull their pants down. At the stop in front of the San Felipe fortress, it was down the ladder and off the bus for 20 minutes to dance and conga line. At the Las Bóvedas one hour stop, the dungeons-turned-shops are closed for the night but there is more dancing and cheese arepas for sale and then it’s back up the ladder onto the bus and onto the final destination, a private disco for the chiva partyers.  If you like a spring-break/bachelorette party, open bar atmosphere amongst a traveling group of 50 tourists from all over South America (“Venezuelans, make some noise,” the MC exhorted), like jokes in Spanish and can easily scamper up and down a bunk bed type ladder, then this will be a fun night for you. If you are older than 35, your knees sometimes hurt and you appreciate “quiet enjoyment”, if your guide suggests the group takes the Chiva tour, then “dile que no.”

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Crazy Salsa private studio

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Old Town Cartagena

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Fortress Cartagena

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Hotel Radisson Cartagena

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View of Old Town from Cartagena Bay

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Ecotours Boquilla

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Ecotours Boquilla canoe trip thru mangroves

By Lisa Skriloff

Friday, Aug 08, 2015


 

Trip of Love: A 60s Journey Through Song and Dance – Now playing Off Broadway

tripoflovelogoAre they doing a cha cha? Is it a hustle? It’s a bit of both in a Bossa Nova choreographed to “The Girl from Ipanema” a musical number in Trip of Love, a psychedelic love valentine to the 60s professed in song and dance, which opened Off-Broadway on Sunday. If you, like me, squeal “Oooh, I love that one” when you hear the song “You Don’t Own Me” and “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” and “California Dreamin’” you’ll be screaming throughout the entire performance of Trip of Love. (If you hear ‘Trippin’ love you wouldn’t be far off.)

James Walski has created an exciting night of dance-concert-theater for those who, like me, love watching dancing, almost as much as you love to dance. Though apparently classically trained, (Joffrey, American Ballet Theater) he brings his Las Vegas sensibilities to bear in this production, as he hasn’t met a 60s song that couldn’t use a Vegas showgirl or Chippendale abs.  Go-Go dancers, see-thru dresses, Day Glo paint  being applied to a topless woman in ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ (though less naked than the ones you can see if you walk three blocks east  on 42nd St): these are some of the visuals incorporated into the show.

White patent leather boots, 60s hair dos, tie dye, even more eye candy comes your way with the eye popping costumes (500 of them) designed by Tony award winner Gregg Barnes which left me wishing I could somewhere buy the purple and yellow green bathing suit and cover up from the “Wipe Out” number.

This thoroughly enjoyable musical will help you “Forget all your troubles, forget all your cares” as the lyrics to “Downtown” exhort and will be especially popular with international baby boomers who remember the music, even if they don’t speak English. Not a problem in this dialogue- free, plot- free song-and-dance show.  There might have been a plot as tripoflove.com offers that it is “about a young girl’s journey down the rabbit hole and up to an ultimate musical high.”

Besides the non-stop singing and dancing, the cast is called upon to fly in a hot air balloon, sing in Portuguese and ride a scooter, though in the performance I saw there was a mishap when the scooter  slid out from under the rider and off the stage. House lights up and luckily and miraculously no one was hurt. This rendition of ‘It’s Not Unusual” featured an unusual PA announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, a short pause while we get the Vespa from the orchestra pit.” The conductor must have good reflexes as indeed the show commenced within a few minutes.

In addition to the conductor, other notable performers include Laurie Wells, with her Judy Collins / Stockard Channing vibe and Dionne Figgins as Jennifer in ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin’.

tripoflove.com
https://www.facebook.com/tripoflovemusical@TripOfLove

By Lisa Skriloff

Monday, Oct 10, 2015


 

Solari’s Restaurant- First Tuesdays Big Band Dinner & Dancing 

Ever in search of old school Italian restaurants with live music for a wonderful evening of dinner and dancing, we found it atSolari’s Restaurant in Hackensack, NJ.

The first Tuesday of the month is Big Band night where the “One More Once” Big Band, an 11 piece all male band (girl singers: please get in touch with them!) captivates a loyal following who know their foxtrot, swing and cha cha.

Enjoyed our classic Italian sausage and peppers appetizer and chicken parmigiana as they started the evening out with “Dancing in the Dark” and “I’ll Never Smile Again.”

How to get there from Manhattan? I’ll tell you exactly what to do: Take the 6:03 pm NJ Transit train from NY Penn Station. You’ll need to change trains in Secaucus and I like this departure because it gives you 13 minutes to connect to the 6:25 train to the Essex Street stop, arriving just less than 20 minutes later. At Secaucus, the connection is in another part of the building up an escalator then down another, to find your next train among a choice of A through H platforms.  From the train station, Solari’s Restaurant is 5 minutes away. We like a 7:15 dinner reservation which gives us plenty of time for dinner and a few glasses of wine before the band starts at 8:30. They take a nice long dinner break after their first set which ends at 9:30 so it’s up to you and your schedule for the next day whether you leave then or dance the second set and end your evening after 11 pm.

Your fellow dancers are regulars; some might have enjoyed listening to Frank Sinatra in person at one time, some might be dance teachers, some, I overheard, belonged to a college swing dance club.

There’s no cover charge!  Begin the Beguine at Solari’s Restaurant.  http://solarisrestaurant.net/

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Friday, Sep 09, 2015
 

 

Low Cost Airline Volaris Inaugurates Service from JFK – Continues Focus on the Hispanic Market

Low cost carrier Volaris, serving more destinations in Mexico than any other airline,

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Ivan Martinez-Vega, Deputy Director for Public Relations, North America, Mexico Tourism Board (L) and Miguel Aguiñiga Rodríguez, Senior Manager Mex-US/Sales & Marketing, Volaris (R)

inaugurates service from JFK on July 15th  as it continues to serve its core audience, the Hispanic Market. Miguel Aguiñiga Rodríguez, Senior Manager Mex-US/Sales & Marketing for Volaris,  in an interview with Multicultural Travel News, said that the “visiting family and relatives” market (VFR) is their key market. For that reason, since the airline was launched 9 years ago, he noted, they have been doing research to identify the largest Mexican-American population areas to establish routes to serve the VFR market.  Guadalajara is a principal destination because of the opportunity it presents to this  market as drive time from Guadalajara is only 2 to 6 hours to most key cities such as Zacatecas, Aguascalientes and Morelia, among others, destinations that are key for the Mexican ex-patriots living in the US. The airline also targets second and third generation Mexican-Americans to encourage them to visit and learn about their culture and food.The Volaris outreach to the Hispanic population is aligned with the Mexican Tourism board’s campaign with the theme “Mis Raices” targeting the Hispanic Market which will launch this August. The current “Live it to Believe it” campaign highlights the culture and food of Mexico and promotes a “Wine & Tequila Route” and “Mole Route.” The “Thousand Flavors of Mole” route encourages travelers to visit the regions of Mexico City, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca and Puebla where the famous “mole poblano” originates. The tequila route includes the city of Guadalajara, the capital of Mariachi music, itself declared as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Volaris marketing outreach includes alliances  with the various regional  Mexican Federations around the US, as a  key way to reach their main target —  Mexicans in the US with ties to family in Mexico. Knowing that Hispanics overindex in social media usage, Volaris is also focused on utilizing Facebook where they currently have over 1,300,00 likes and Twitter with over a million followers.  And in other milestone news, earlier this month Volaris announced it transported its 50 Millionth customer.

By Lisa Skriloff, Editor, Multicultural Travel News

Tuesday, Jul 07, 2015


 

A Quick. Quick. Slow. Slow. Long Weekend in Nashville

Quick. Quick. Slow. Slow. That’s the counting pattern for the country 2-step dance. And also the pace of our Nashville long weekend this past April.

A 5:45 pm day of arrival dinner reservation was the only time slot available at The Catbird Seat (no relation, I don’t think, to the BlueBird Café,) the Achazt-inspired (you’re a foodie if that means something to you) counter-seating hot restaurant. So we moved quickly from the airport to the hotel and on to the restaurant.

The next morning was Slow Slow as we set no alarm for sightseeing, yet managed a full Hop on Hop Off Trolley route around the city before our 8:30 pm dinner reservation at Husk, the James Beard award-winning restaurant a short cab ride from our base of operations, the Hotel Indigo, in downtown. Then it was off to live music and dancing. This trip we did the two-step at the Wildhorse Saloon, West Coast swing dance at BB King’s and Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie bar and lindy-hop to the music of Bryan Wain & Hush Puppy’s Daddy at the Whisky Bent Saloon on their Sunday swing dance night.

Swing dancing and molecular gastronomy? Yes, Music City had these to offer for our gourmet-food fueled danceathon in Nashville.

Here’s our full itinerary, if you’d like to follow my lead:

Wednesday

12:01 pm American Air from La Guardia to Nashville

Checked in Hotel Indigo

Walked along river from hotel to Riverfront Station

Rooftop drinks at Acme Feed & Seed- live music, view of the river

Catbird Seat Restaurant for dinner

Downstairs for after-dinner drinks at the Patterson House (tried the Bacon Old fashioned!)

Union Station Hotel for lobby drinks – a restored 19th century rail road station with a stained glass ceiling

Live country music – one set at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge

Robert’s Western World for country music

One set of the Stacy Mitchhart Band at Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie bar in Printer’s Alley

Thursday

Breakfast at 417 Union Street Restaurant – serves breakfast all day!

Hop on Hop off trolley around the city

Stops at Marathon Village for museum visit and Antique Archaeology shop

Green Brier Distillery tour

Johnny Cash Museum

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery for drinks and appetizers

HUSK restaurant for dinner

The Big Bang–a dueling pianos lounge and dance floor

Bourbon Street Blues and Boogie bar

Friday

Breakfast at 417 Union Street Restaurant

Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame

Margot Cafe in East Nashville for dinner

The 5 Spot bar for drinks and live music

Nashville Swing Dance Foundation’s Friday night JUMP SESSION

Wildhorse Saloon for two-step dancing

Saturday

The Southern Restaurant for brunch

Afternoon antiquing at 8th Ave Antique Mall, Pre to Post Modern, Tennessee Antique Mall

The Bridge RLife Bar at Renaissance Hotel

German Town Cafe for dinner

Rolf & Daughters for drinks

Swinging Doors for country music

BB King’s for Blues

Sunday

Easter Brunch at the Hermitage Hotel – best peppered bacon ever

Sambuca for dinner and live music

Whisky Bent Saloon for swing dancing

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Whisky Bent Saloon Swing Dance night

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Minnie Murphy & Crew At Sambuca Nashville

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Robert’s Western World

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Sambuca restaurant

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Brunch at The Southern

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Easter Brunch at the Hermitage Hotel

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Easter Brunch at the Hermitage Hotel

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Cocktail menu at Rolf & Daughters

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Drinks Menu at the Patterson House

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13 courses at The Catbird Seat

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By Lisa Skriloff, editor, Dance Travel News dancetravelnews.com

Monday, Apr 04, 2015


Discovering New York State’s “Path Through History” Program During Black History Month

New York State offers visitors and locals alike the opportunity to experience the “Path Through History” program offering a glimpse into the historic sites and museums that highlight African American history and American culture along with the major events that helped shape today’s society. From the Adirondacks to Long Island, New York State offers a window into African American history and American culture as it was a center for 19th century anti-slavery organizations, and home to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman and many other abolitionist and Underground Railroad leaders. Today, thought-provoking historic sites, museums and events throughout New York State help visitors understand the roles and lives of enslaved Africans, the struggle for freedom and equality, and the many contributions of African Americans. There are more than 24 Underground Railroad sites throughout the state and former slaves’ quarters can be viewed at many well-preserved 17th and 18th century homes and estates. The “Path Through History” program, introduced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, makes it even easier to explore Black heritage sites. Civil Rights, a key aspect of African American culture, are one of 13 themes used to organize 500-plus heritage sites across the state. The program includes identifying markers on major state highways as well as additional local signage with a distinctive Path Through History logo to help point the way. For more information visit http://paththroughhistory.ny.gov/.

Monday, Feb 09, 2015


 

Ecuador Tourism Ad Campaign Includes Super Bowl Spot, Hispanic Media, Engagement with Ecuadorian Community 

Along with other first time Super Bowl advertisers, the first ever country to promote tourism was included among the half-time commercials: Ecuador. According to the Ministry of Tourism of Ecuador they advertised during the Super Bowl, the most watched one-day television event, “because it would put them on a global platform.” The spots are in 13 markets as part of their “All You Need Is Ecuador” campaign launched in early 2014, to promote Ecuador as a world-class destination to U.S. travelers, and as a place to do business among English-speaking audiences and the U.S. Hispanic population. Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism says that the U.S. is the second largest source of tourists traveling to Ecuador, after Colombia. Featuring the song “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles, the tourism campaign includes engagement with the Ecuadorian community in the U.S., partnering with prominent Ecuadorians who are influential among the U.S. Hispanic population to promote the beauty of the country and to promote Ecuadorian culture in the United States and outreach to U.S. Hispanic media to promote Ecuador and the achievements of Ecuadorians living in the U.S. According to the Ministry of Tourism, “these types of opportunities build national pride, which motivates fellow Ecuadorians to engage with their communities via social media or events.” The social media campaign includes hashtags #SB49 and #AllYouNeedIs, (#AllYouNeedIsEcuador on game day) and tweets from the Ambassador of Ecuador Nathalie Cely @NathalieCely

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2015


 

Multicultural Oakland, California

as appeared in:
Monday, Aug 08, 2014

Dancing Onboard the Hornblower Infinity Starlight Dinner Cruise

The evening was Nice ‘n Easy and that was the song that was playing as we were seated at our table onboard the Hornblower Infinity, ready for our dinner cruise in the New York harbor.

“Is that Frank Sinatra?” I asked John sitting across from me. He was ready to dine, drink and dance. “No, it’s Michael Bublé,” he said.

And look at that huge dance floor, I thought. Usually I like being at a table close to the dance floor at any supper club experience we can find around the world for Dance Travel News. And indeed we were shown to table 119 at the edge of the dance floor, so close that our bread crumbs would hit the beautiful wooden floor. But the expectation of cruising right by the Statue of Liberty won out and I asked if we could switch to a table by the window. It was a tough choice but on this warm August evening I went with the table best for a view of the New York City landmarks we would be passing.
And that was a good call because once the ship got underway we didn’t leave the air conditioning to venture outside once.

As it turned out, our new table, right behind the hostess station near the back of the room, later allowed us, once the doors were opened after dinner, to also hear the DJ music from the atrium lounge giving us, at once, two different song choices and dance floor choices for dancing.

John liked our new table too because it was the closest to the appetizer buffet already underway, in place for the 6 pm first arrivals (for the 7 pm sailing), a bountiful spread that included empanadas, artisanal breads and cheeses, charcuterie and roasted and fresh vegetables.

We were on the Starlight Dinner Cruise onboard the 210-foot luxury boat, the Hornblower Infinity, a cruise inaugurated in New York City this past July and now operating year round for public cruises Thursdays through Sundays. (Private charters are available on other days.)

“What are you celebrating,” we were asked several times by the friendly and attentive staff. “Anniversary? Birthday?” It was none of those for us, but clearly a special occasion outing. “Living in New York City,” finally became our standard answer. And also the fact that, as it happens, we live in walking distance to Pier 40, embarkation point for the Hornblower fleet on the Hudson River near Houston St.

Before we settled into our table for the evening, we toured the beautifully appointed ship and explored the tri-level dance atrium where non-dining cruise-goers, the 200 or so “Sights & Sips” and “Cocktail Cruise” passengers, would drink and dance. DJ Gene Lattanzi spins house music/ Top 40, though not the songs that were in the top 40 when I was in college.

All three options are available for passengers on each Infinity sailing, offering a range of price points and food on the different decks with cash bars throughout the ship.

All are entitled to go to the atrium dance floor and it indeed filled up but not the dance floor in the dining area which remained mostly empty. Our waiter told us it had been filled with dancers the night before when a private charter brought a thousand people on board. He said, go ahead and dance when you feel like it. There were maybe 40 people having dinner and we enjoyed the spacious (partially filled) room, not surprising since this NYC offering was barely more than a month old. Yet again, John and I would be the first ones on the dance floor and later on another couple got up to dance, grateful to us for kicking things off.

Though normally slightly reserved in real life, when it comes to dancing, we consider it our pleasure and responsibility to start the dancing, and also enjoy the space we have to move around the dance floor doing an expansive foxtrot. This usually happens after a drink or two and luckily we had “POB” added on to our dinner cruise tickets. Veterans of one other dinner cruise, we had learned the lingo and knew to go with the Premium Open Bar option. (A green wrist band identifies the POB passengers and John noted that most people were wearing one.)

Our waiter, walking by with cocktails for another table, had a drink on his tray that looked eye-catchingly refreshing. What was that drink, we inquired.  And that is how we came to order the bartender’s special invention, a freshly made Merlot Sangria. And that is how, by the end of the evening, we came to be spotted doing the merengue.

After our appetizers and the chef’s amuse bouche, we were served our dinner selections. We both had the mixed baby greens salad with toasted pine nuts and vinaigrette dressing (the other starter option was lobster bisque) and John went with the petite filet mignon while I had the honey-soy broiled wild salmon. Also on the menu as entrée choices: seafood ravioli, free-range rosemary garlic chicken and vegetarian harvest paella. Our dessert, a seasonal sampler assortment, included a mini carrot cake square, cannoli and chocolate éclair for each.

Now I was hearing “Mac the Knife.”
“Apparently they have the Michael Bublé cd and they are not afraid to use it,” said John.
Then, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.”  “Now that is Frank Sinatra,” he informed me.
Dinner music also included more Frank with “Come Fly with Me”
and  “Beyond the Sea,” “On Broadway” and  “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”
Behind us we could hear the DJ playing a song I couldn’t name but John said  it was the (aforementioned) merengue and off we went to the atrium to dance to it.

“You guys are awesome,” said a guy who, like everyone else, was doing regular free style dancing, once again making me feel like the winner of Dancing with the Stars, when there are no other competitors. (When we are the only ones doing partner dancing, it’s easy to impress. Later we did see some other partner dancing.)

As we danced, I looked out the window. Where were we? There’s the Watchtower Sign, now there’s the South Street Seaport; is that Governor’s Island? The boat was turning, my partner was twirling me, my head was spinning.

“John,” I cried out. “I’m all turned around.” John, never the alarmist, responded, “Now you’re ready to play Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”
Back at our table, we could hear the line dance Cupid Shuffle (…to the right, to the right….now walk it by yourself)  playing, but we usually skip line dances.

Towards the end of our meal the cruise photographer came around to show us the photo we had posed for on the dock. We had seen the green screen version and this final one looked pretty good with the ship added behind us (and I suspect some retouching that took away some wrinkles and pounds) so we purchased it. We opted for the $15 print, versus the $18 email version that was offered.

All of a sudden it was 10 pm and the tug boat was guiding us back to the dock. The evening had gone by fast. But the music was still playing in both rooms while the first people were getting off the boat, but not the dancers. John had heard a song with a cha cha beat so he grabbed my hand for one last dance on the dance floor in the main dining room.
In the far background I could hear the DJ’s selection, “Tonite’s Gonna Be a Good Good Night.” And it was.

The Hornblower Infinity “Starlight Dinner Cruise,” with a four course seated meal is $85 with a premium open bar option for $120, a “Sights & Sips” Cruise with light appetizers is $65 and the “Cocktail Cruise” with a complimentary signature drink is $45.Taxes, fees and gratuity not included. For information and reservations visit hornblower.com, call 888 467 6256 or email nyevents@hornbloers.com. Learn more at HornblowerNew York  on facebook and on twitter @HornblowerNY

Friday, Sep 09, 2012


Multicultural Dining and Entertainment Options With Carnival Miracle’s Launch of Year-Round Service from New York

Multicultural dining and entertainment choices, including The Taste Bar complimentary appetizer program and the Punchliner Comedy Club and Comedy Brunch presented by George Lopez, debut on the Carnival Miracle which launched the line’s first year-round schedule from New York on April 12, 2012.Carnival’s newest casual dining option, The Taste Bar, is being introduced on Carnival Miracle with fleet wide implementation expected to be completed by summer 2013. The Taste Bar sample offerings include roasted pork tacos with green chili salsa and aged cotija cheese and chicken, avocado, and lime tortilla soup; fried malanga (sweet potatoes) filled with ginger-scented pork and lime aioli, and pepper pot soup with cilantro sour cream; short rib croquettes with chipotle aioli and guava and tomato relish, served with pumpkin bisque with sour cream. For the Punchliner Comedy Brunch, many items are inspired by Lopez’s Mexican heritage, including Carne y Huevos – filet mignon topped with two eggs and béarnaise sauce; Hen Alla Diavola, grilled chicken with lemon and pepper; and Mexican-style churros. Two special “George’s Recipes” dishes created by the comedian himself – his own take on Huevos Rancheros which features a chicken quesadilla topped with fried eggs and manchego cheese, and a breakfast burrito filled with scrambled eggs, beans and chorizo – are also offered. As Carnival’s “curator of comedy,” Lopez will act as a consultant on the vetting and hiring of comedic talent in one of the line’s most popular nighttime entertainment options, and advise on décor, lighting, music and more to enhance the overall comedy club experience. The Punchliner Comedy Club will offer five side-splitting 35-minute shows on multiple nights during each voyage, with at least two comedians performing each night. Two early-evening shows offer family fun while the later performances feature R-rated adults-only comedy. Lopez has recorded a number of fun, light-hearted greetings that will be shown on Carnival Miracle’s in-cabin televisions and played during introductions of comedy club performances. Itineraries offered: Eastern Caribbean departures to San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk; Bahamas sailings featuring stops at the private Bahamian island of Half Moon Cay, Grand Turk and Nassau, and Bahamas/Florida cruises with port calls to Port Canaveral (Orlando), Nassau and Freeport. For more information, call 1-800-CARNIVAL or visit www.carnival.com

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Ain’t that a Kick in the Head: Vintage Vegas is Back with a “Vengeance”

 

Swing music Vintage Vegas-style is going gangbusters on the Strip while Downtown, actual gang busters are on display at the Mob Museum, a pantheon to crime stoppers and crime makers (that would be criminals.)

Just as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, showcasing the latest in futuristic devices, was gearing up, we were winding down a visit to Las Vegas of the past, a Vintage Vegas itinerary of our own creation. We found all things Vegas of the 1940s to 1960s: from WWII era style dancing and lounge singers, Rat Pack stage shows and an afternoon at the Mob Museum located in the US Post Office and Courthouse of the 1950s Kefauver hearings.

No trip to Las Vegas begins before we check the performance schedule for Laura Shaffer, the Bettie Page Clothing Company dress-wearing chanteuse who pays glamorous tribute to the Great American Songbook.  On this trip, she was performing at the Chandelier Lounge, a tri-level bar in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. She always attracts the swing dancing crowd to her usual haunts, the Tropicana Lounge and the Bootlegger Bistro. At the Chandelier Lounge she knew her audience wanted to dance and encourage us she did, even though the “dance floor” was a small area of the carpeted lounge. How can you not get up when you hear the strains of her renditions of Cheek to Cheek, Ain’t Misbehavin,’ Straighten Up & Fly Right, Perfidia and You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To. The “Noir Nightingale’s” schedule is posted at her face book page, Laura Shaffer’s Midnight Refrain, at http://www.facebook.com/laurashaffersmidnightrefrain and  http://www.midnightrefrain.com.

We’d never been to the Chandelier Lounge until this trip but there we were another time for the Jennifer Keith Quintet.  We had danced to her music in Los Angeles when they performed at Maxwell DeMille’s Cicada (Supper) Club, located in the 1928 art deco Oviatt South Olive St building where a Sunday night WWII era radio show is recreated.  Jennifer, whose great-great-grandfather was the “K” in RKO Pictures, that classic Hollywood movie studio, harkened us back to the days of Old Hollywood glamour. Her website jenniferkeith.com, shows her back at the Chandelier Lounge  throughout 2013.

Then it was on to the Wolf Theater at the Clarion, where Larry Liso incarnated Frank Sinatra, in “Shades of Sinatra.” The show also features Carmine Mandia, Ryan Baker and Lisa Smith all crooning such favorites as New York New York, I’ve Got the World on a String, Take All of Me, Come Fly with Me, That’s Life and Luck Be a Lady. On our next trip we’ll try to catch him at La Scala Restaurant.

On this trip, we finally made it to the new Mob Museum, (the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement) which opened just over one year ago on Feb 14th, the day of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago where the Bugs Moran gang was lined-up against a wall and shot and killed by Al Capone’s gang (the actual wall is on display.)

While their website www.themobmuseum.org  suggests that a visit may take from 1 to 3 hours, the three hours we allotted wasn’t enough and we ended up rushing through the last exhibits. There is so much to view and do: displays of artifacts, weapons used by hit men, touch screens with historical information; we joined a police photo line-up, viewed the multimedia screen video while listening to Ain’t that a Kick in the Head, learned about the Mob’s secret message system, listened in on wire tapped secret encoded conversations and tried a machine gun…..but declined to sit in an electric chair.

We read about the Irish and Italian gangs and the days of Prohibition, “omerta” (the code of silence,) the witness protection program and the Mob’s peculiar standard of ethics, “We only kill each other.”

We sawthe barber chair where, on October 25, 1957, the boss of the Gambino crime family was murdered. We learned that the son of gangster “Easy Eddie”  O’Hare, World War II Navy aviation hero, Edward “Butch” O’Hare gave the Chicago Airport its name.

We “met”Oscar Goodman, the mobster-representing lawyer and former mayor (We also enjoyed dining at his current restaurant, “Oscar’s” with its spectacular view of the Freemont Street experience); Lucky Luciano, who gave a silver cigarette case, on display, to Frank Sinatra;  Howard Hughes and other famous good-guys and outlaws, Sam Giancana, Bugsy Siegel, Joseph Bonanno, John Gotti, Whitey Bulger, J. Edgar Hoover and Eliot Ness.

We enjoyed the special photo exhibit of “Fabulous Downtown” Las Vegas as it appeared in the 1950s, on view in a third floor side gallery.

We had our fill of Corruption, Conspiracy and Cosa Nostra and Mug shots, Made men, and Mafia There was Rudy Guiliani, our own NYC former mayor and creator of the “perp walk” media parade, who, as a federal prosecutor, helped convict the heads of New York’s “Five Families”.

What we missed out on: The Fire Arms Training Simulator (the line was too long to watch the videos of real life police situations and decide on-the-spot whether to shoot or not; We didn’t have time to listen to all the FBI surveillance tapes (one was enough.)

John tried the video test to determine if he had what it takes to be a made man, but he failed when he had to admit that, no, he wouldn’t kill his own family.

At the end of the three floor exhibit trail we were rewarded with a comfortable seat to view a mini-doc, with film clips from The Godfather and Martin Scorsese’s Casino and Goodfellas.

A clever copywriter had a hand in the website and gift shop: “Plan your visit– See what everyone’s not talking about”; “Museum events – amazing events that also make great alibis” and a t-shirt “I saw Nothing at the Mob Museum”.

On a previous trip we signed up for the Mob van tour, a three-hour drive-by  that took a group of 10 around Las Vegas to the Flamingo Hotel (Bugsy Siegel statue), the house used to film a Casino movie location among other stops.

Now that we toured the Mob Museum in downtown Vegas, John wondered, should we do the Mob Attraction, at the Tropicana, where we had heard that live character actors are dressed up as mobsters and interact with you in a kind of Tony and Tina Wedding experience. No, let’s skip that, I said. I think I’m all mobbed out. Well, as long as you’re not mobbed up, he said.

Thursday, Aug 08, 2013


Feature Article: Turning Stone Resort and Casino: A Multicultural Destination

Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York balances the traditions and cultural heritage of the Oneida Indian Nation with modern amenities, exposing visitors to the Indian nation’s culture and values in addition to providing a fun, relaxing experience. The Oneida, or the People of the Standing Stone, complete with their unique past, language and culture, have an extensive history and interaction with the land, maintaining a long tradition of valuing harmony with nature and in preserving both their land and culture. The Oneida commitment to wellness and nature can be seen in the architecture, landscapes and especially in the all natural organic treatments featured in the Skaná Spa.

The Showroom and Event Center is the destination for popular mainstream, international and multicultural events.  Well-known artists in rock, pop, country and time-honored music, along with comedy acts, have preformed. The resort has attracted an Asian American and international Asian following to events such as the Vietnamese variety show, The Vietnamese Show: The Best From Paris by Night, which was performed over Thanksgiving weekend in the Event Center. Paris by Night tells the story of Vietnamese citizens escaping to Paris in the late 1970s and incorporates traditional songs and dances, hits during the days of the Republic of South Vietnam, and more contemporary sounds.  According to Steve Mahler, Director of Marketing for Turning Stone, “We aim to have 6-10 pan-Asian events each year that draw from our primary regional market (150 miles) arriving via group bus tour and individual vehicle. There is significant diversity in this region, and we find that our regional audience has a high interest level in any overseas artist or dance groups we can present. In order to complete the cultural immersion for these guests, we have employees who speak most Asian dialects, and our website has translated content. In addition, when presenting these types of events we re-fit our restaurant mix to support authentic cuisine in the culture of the expected guests.”  This New Year’s Eve, Turning Stone will host a Vietnamese Dance Show with the Canadian band, Khieu Vu Non-Stop, headlining in the Showroom, along with a traditional Hollywood Dance Party in the Event Center.

During Multicultural Travel News’ (MTN) September 2011 visit, Loretta Taylor, Director of Spa Operations, explained that at the Skaná Spa and Salon, “modern treatments combine with Native American healing principles to create peace and harmony within.” Opened in 2003 and with architecture greatly influenced by American Indian design, Skaná offers 12 treatment rooms, a full- service salon, sauna, steam rooms, a whirlpool and therapeutic mineral pool in their 33,000 square foot facilities. The spa aptly lives up to its title which is the Oneida word for “peace” and was named among the best spas in the world by Spa Magazine. Skaná’s treatments and spa ingredients are representative of the Oneida’s belief in the balance of good health, harmony with nature and tranquility within and all have a special, cultural significance.  Treatments are organic, indigenous to the area with seasonal additions. During the interview with MTN, Lorretta Taylor referred to the warm maple syrup added to creams in the spring, the celebration of strawberries and blueberries in treatments in the summer, and the exfoliating enzymes in pumpkins used in the fall.  All treatments are meant to bring nature indoors and show appreciation to the offerings of Mother Earth.  There is also a day spa named Ahsi located adjacent to the casino.

While the spa offers its participants a relaxing and pleasurable way to experience the Oneida Indian Nation way of life, there are other ways for employees as well as guest visitors to be exposed to the unique culture. According to Loretta Taylor, all employees receive a special orientation to learn about the Oneida way of life. There are nine dedicated teachers who instruct Oneida language classes. The Shako:wi Cultural Center displays the traditional clothes, crafts, and photographs as well as presents the long and rich history of the nation to its guests.  Located on the property, Oneida Sky is a retail gallery displaying Native American art, jewelry, crafts and other collectibles.

The resort draws a wide range of visitors with diverse interests.  Located about two hours from Rochester and Albany, it welcomes local spa-goers, concert-goers, golfers, parents visiting their children at a local university’s parent’s weekend, and business conventions as well as large number of guests from New York City. Turning Stone features five lodging locations with 709 guest rooms and suites,  five golf courses, twenty-one dining venues with a wide range of cuisines, two spas, two fitness centers, a casino, indoor Sportsplex, night-club, concert venue and convention center.

For more information about Turning Stone Resort and Casino, visit their website, http://www.turningstone.com.  For information about upcoming shows or to buy tickets, visit http://www.turningstone.com/entertain/index.php.

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2011


Multicultural Jamaica

With its diverse history and celebrated arts, Jamaica offers a great multicultural experience for visitors.  The capital and largest city, Kingston, is home to the Bob Marley Museum, African Heritage Museum, the National Gallery and Institute of Jamaica.  The city also has tours of many authentic Reggae studios where well-known hits were created.

At the 21st Annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) convention, Multicultural Travel News interviewed Marc Melville of Chukka Caribbean Adventures who noted that many of their tours are designed to showcase the area’s heritage and history.  He made specific mention of the “House and Carriage Tour” at Good Hope Estate.  This tour brings visitors to eight buildings of historical significance in the hour and a half tour. Another tour he mentioned was the Taste of Jamaica Tour which allows its participants to experience the spices and tasty food of the island.

There are many cultural events year-round and throughout the island that display the drama, folk forms, culinary arts, gospel, dance, speech, music and arts of Jamaica.  Here are a few:

  • Air Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival: Held at various locations for a week every January, the international and local performers at this festival demonstrate the great influence of age-old tradition of jazz and blues.
  • Port Royal Annual Festival: Port Royal, once home to pirates and buccaneers, used to be  known as the “wickedest city in the world.”  Today, the fishing village remembers each March its long, infamous past with delicious seafood, kid-friendly attractions, competitions and performances.
  • Carnival: During Easter Week, the well-known Caribbean event celebrates with many parties, musical entertainment and parades.
  •  Reggae Sumfest:  Jamaica’s largest concert festival and the world’s premiere reggae event is held every July in Montego Bay.  It features both local musicians as well as international artists.
  • Heritage Fest: This annual October festival in Kingston draws on food, dance and music to celebrate the diversity of Jamaica’s history. From Indian curry to Lebanese dancing to Chinese fortune telling, the three day Heritage Fest pays homage to all of the diverse ethnicities found in Jamaica.
  • Oktoberfest:  The Jamaica German Society celebrates this festival every October in Kingston with beer drinking and traditional German food.

For more information about Chukka Caribbean Adventures, visit http://www.chukkacaribbean.com or for more information about Jamaican tourism, see http://www.visitjamaica.com.

By: Lisa Skriloff and Colleen Ring

Monday, Oct 31, 2011


Feature Article: Multicultural Jamaica in 2012: An Interview with John Lynch, Director of Tourism for Jamaican Tourist Board

In 2012, the world’s attention will be on Jamaica with the concurrence of three significant happenings: the country will celebrate its 50th anniversary of independence; its athletes, some the world’s fastest runners, will be showcased in the upcoming Summer Olympics and Jamaica tourism will reach out to the Jamaican diaspora inviting them to “come home” to visit. Recently, Multicultural Travel News attended the 21st Annual Jamaica Product Exchange (JAPEX) convention and had the opportunity to interview the Jamaican Tourist Board’s (JTB) Director of Tourism, John Lynch, to learn more about these upcoming events and initiatives.

As a result of the Jamaican Diaspora, there is currently a large population of Jamaicans living in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.  According to John Lynch, 50% of Jamaicans live in Jamaica while the other 50% are living elsewhere in the world. With third and fourth generation Jamaicans living abroad who have never visited the place of their heritage, JTB will be reaching out to Jamaicans abroad and inviting them to “come home for a visit” in 2012. “Heritage” themed vacation suggestions that focus on learning and experiencing Jamaican tradition and culture already exist through JTB.

In addition to its cultural contributions, Jamaica boasts a proud athletic legacy. Since the island first began competing in the Olympic Games in 1948, their athletes have won 53 medals.  John Lynch stated that in the upcoming Summer 2012 Olympics, Jamaica will be sending nine people running in under ten seconds in the 100 meter race, bringing further attention to Jamaica.

Jamaica will celebrate fifty years of independence in 2012.  Describing the nation as a “confluence of cultures,” John Lynch shared the island’s apt motto, “out of many, one people.”  He pointed to visitjamaica.com where there is a comprehensive list of all festivals and a further description of the people of Jamaica’s ancestry which can be traced back to Spain, England, Africa, Asia, India, the Middle East and those indigenous to the island.  These diverse cultural influences can be seen in its unique music, dance, art, architecture and food. Mr. Lynch mentioned two of Jamaica’s iconic festivals, the Reggae Sumfest in July and the Jazz and Blues Festival every January, as exemplifying the unique culture the country offers.

With so much to celebrate in the upcoming 2012, the JTB encourages its fellow Jamaicans to come home. For more information, visit the Jamaican Tourist Board’s website, visitjamaica.com

By: Lisa Skriloff and Colleen Ring

Monday, Oct 31, 2011


Feature Article: Visit and Learn: The Booker T. Washington National Monument Hardy, VA

The first African American family has been living in the White House for a couple of years now. So it may be a bit hard to believe that there’s been a 107-year gap between the time the Obamas took up residence in the White House and the year – 1901– when the first African American was formally invited (by then-president Theodore Roosevelt) to simply visit the place. That guest was Booker T. Washington – born a slave, fathered by a white man he never knew, a child who hungered for knowledge more than he hungered for anything else in life. His drive to become educated, and to foster education for other African Americans, led to his founding the Tuskegee Institute in 1881 in Alabama, which he built into an internationally-respected center of learning. The author of Up from Slavery went on to advise three US presidents, win an honorary degree from Harvard and become recognized as the country’s foremost black educator.

Washington’s inspirational story is on full display at the Booker T. Washington National Monument in the historic Blue Ridge region, a 45-minute drive from Roanoke. The memorial is situated within a lush national park, and there you can see a recreation of the life young Booker lived with his mother and siblings. The family slept on rags on the wooden floor of a one-room house, and Booker said they were used to always being hungry. (Ironically, their mother served as the plantation’s cook.)

Take a self-guided tour through the Plantation Trail, which winds through many acres of the original property owned by tobacco farmer James Burroughs. There you can get an idea of what the life on the plantation – with its tobacco barn, smokehouse, corn crib, barns for pigs, sheep, rosters and other animals on full display – was like for Booker, who lived there till age 9, when emancipation was declared and he and his family moved on to West Virginia.

The memorial includes a brief but moving film, where we learn that Booker’s childhood was nothing but work and in fact “there was no period of my life devoted to play.” And yet above all he dreamed of the day he could go to school: “I had the feeling that to get into a schoolhouse and study would be about the same as getting into paradise.” (No doubt you’ve heard your children utter similar sentiments.)

In a lovely setting in rural Virginia, the Booker T. Washington National Monument provides a window into the life of a boy who grew up to become one of the world’s most inspiring men.

By Linda Konner

The Booker T. Washington National Monument is located on VA 122 (Booker T. Washington Highway), 22 miles southeast of Roanoke. 540-721-2094, www.nps.gov/bowa.

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2011


Feature Article: Multicultural Travel News, March 2011 – Learning Spanish in Guatemala

If you work in Hispanic marketing, either your job depends on your ability to speak Spanish or you don’t really need to speak Spanish to do your job.

If you’re the one that works in corporate advertising overseeing your company’s Hispanic market ad campaigns you don’t necessarily need to speak Spanish. You’ll have a trusted internal or external Hispanic market team or ad agency responsible for all account management and creative elements of producing Spanish language campaigns.

Yet, wouldn’t it be nice to join the bilingual club or at least achieve a passing familiarity with the language?

Your college days may be long behind you but here’s a way to combine your family vacation with a mini Spanish language course. Consider a one week crash course (or longer if you can spare the time) in La Antigua, Guatemala where more than 80 language schools offer instruction and sightseeing in one package.

Last October, during an 8-day trip to Guatemala I had the opportunity to tour three schools, meet with their managers to learn about their offerings, view their classrooms and housing accommodations plus enjoy a series of excursions, each easy day trips from La Antigua.

While Spanish courses abroad are most often associated with home stays with local families as the housing accommodations of choice (as was my experience when I studied in Mexico during two college summers,) today an executive can choose to stay in a five star hotel and have a luxury family vacation with some hours of Spanish instruction incorporated into the day.

In college, the family home stay with weekend camping trips was the way to go. For today’s advertising professional, I would have a different “housing” recommendation: the Porta Hotel Antigua, where I stayed, or at any or these other luxury properties that I visited, dined at and coveted during my days in La Antigua: the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, for the ultimate in luxury accommodations; Posada de Don Sancho on picturesque Arch St.; Hotel Meson de Maria, the closest to the Maximo Nivel school located just around the corner, or Hotel Palacio de Doña Leonor, a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of colonial Antigua.

The Porta Hotel Antigua is in walking distance from the schools I visited (if you’re like me, a New Yorker who likes to walk) and a lovely morning walk it was. The concierge’s directions included this delightful instruction: “walk one block to the left out the hotel main door, then go right when you reach the ruins.” Your family can stay behind and enjoy the pool, the playground and the lush interior courtyard with its resident parrots and macaws, following their breakfast buffet (your family’s not the bird’s) in the hotel (for about $25 a person.)

Or your family can join you as you walk to the main square (the Plaza Mayor) to breakfast in the small outdoor courtyard of the famous Café Condesa  where an omelette, home baked carrot muffin  and coffee is yours for under $4 (or $5 if you take milk with your coffee.)

After breakfast you head off to class and the family can start their sightseeing right in the main square itself. Surrounding the square are shops, City Hall, the present day Cathedral and the church ruins. The main square itself is beautiful with its central fountain, local musicians, and pony rides. Apparently the square is also wifi wired so while you’re in school your spouse can quickly check their email before taking the kids on a carriage ride around Antigua.

Visits can be made in town to the La Merced Church and Convent, Arch Street, the handicrafts market and the Museums promenade in the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo, which includes the Archeology Museum, Museum of Pre Columbian Art and Modern Glass and Pharmacy Museums.

The three schools that I visited all featured daily Spanish language instruction with private teachers or group classes, daily and weekly group activities like salsa classes and movie night as well as excursions. Each school has its own unique orientation: Maximo Nivel stands out as an Executive Language Center; Probigua, billing itself as “The Spanish Language school with a purpose,” donates its proceeds to support local women and libraries;  PLFM, the oldest Spanish language school in Antigua, holds classes in a lovely garden location set among ruins and teaches Mayan languages as well as Spanish.

At Maximo Nivel (Maximum Level) Executive Language Center I met with Brittany Cardona, Assistant General Manager. Originally from Indiana, Brittany immediately understood how a U.S. advertising professional working in the Hispanic market could benefit not only from a basic understanding of the Spanish language but from first hand local, in-country experiences that would give context to the cultural cues used in ads.The majority of students here (both University students and private students or professionals) are from the US, Japan, Canada and Israel. Here, 4 hours of instruction a day is the norm (at $120 by the week) but Maximo Nivel can tailor a program to meet an individual’s needs for Business or Medical Spanish in a 5-day crash-course or extended program, from Basic/High Basic through Advanced I & II. There’s a Salsa class on Monday and the school offers volunteer opportunities for participants to help at orphanages, schools or medical clinics. Housing options include a traditional family stay, The “Family House Bed and Breakfast,” a private or a shared apartment, a hostel or a hotel.

In a follow up interview with Brittany by email she informs Multicultural News that “Máximo Nivel was founded in Cusco, Peru in 2003, after which we opened our Costa Rica office in 2006 and our Guatemala office in 2009.  Today, Máximo Nivel offers its TEFL/TESOL Certification, Native Spanish Program, International Volunteer Program, and Native English Program in all three countries – Peru, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

Maximo Nivel Executive Language Center is dedicated to providing a comprehensive immersion experience to our clients from university students to professionals.  Maximo Nivel can tailor a program for the Marketing professional in order to provide the most intense customized program to achieve the goals set by the student.  Our courses are designed to encourage language learning through communication and interaction, not just studying grammar out of a book.  The marketing professional would also learn by studying real life examples of Spanish-language media, providing a better understanding of the target audience.

While the student is enjoying Spanish class at our first-class facilities, Maximo Nivel can assist in arranging tours for the family that accompanies the student.  Some family activities might include a visit to a zoo or children’s museum in Guatemala City, Florencia Park about 15 minutes outside of Antigua for a cookout and hiking trails, horseback riding or canopy zip-lining at a local coffee plantation, or simply going to the cinema!

Máximo Nivel’s success is based on our commitment to quality and the highest level of client service possible. We continuously invest in professional staff and first-class facilities to ensure your overall experience with us is nothing short of excellent.”

Learn more at www.maximonivel.com, call (US) 877-433-4141 or email info@maximonivel.com or reach Brittany Cardona at Brittany@maximonivel.com.

At Academia de Español PROBIGUA (Proyecto Bibliotecas Guatemala) students can choose between one-on-one instruction for 4 to 7 hours per day or group classes with three to four students. Trips and activities are part of the school program and housing can be with a local family or hotel. A special program is designed for doctors, nurses and social workers which includes visits to local hospitals and lectures on subjects such as traditional medicine.

PROBIGUA (Guatemala Libraries Project) is a not-for-profit organization that donates the school’s profits to establish and maintain libraries in the rural villages of Guatemala. Support for the women and children of Guatemala is a top priority in a country where 46% of the population cannot read and “educational opportunities are severely limited by a lack of access to books and other written material. Most towns and villages do not have libraries; neither do the public schools, which also do not supply any textbooks. Parents, many of whom earn the minimum wage of only $18 per week, simply cannot afford to buy books for their children.” The school employs women who are university trained teachers; it has established 26 libraries and 19 information technology centers; it runs two library busses to bring books to towns and villages around Guatemala; they have granted scholarships for students from poor backgrounds and have refurbished schools. For their “efforts to contribute to a better education for the children and youth of Guatemala” PROBIGUA was awarded the “Access to Learning 2001” prize from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  The Spanish language course fee is $125 per week for 4 hours of daily classes. I met with Tomas Ixcamey during my visit. Dr Rigoberto Zamora is the director. Contact info@probigua.org, or visit www.probigua.org. Tel (502) 7832-2998.

PLFM (Fundacion Proyecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquin) was established in 1969 with two purposes: to teach the Spanish language and to teach and preserve Mayan languages and culture. It is run by native Mayan professionals. Courses begin every Monday and students can begin study on any Monday throughout the year. Elma Contreras showed me around and I had a chance to see many one-on-one classes in progress in the cubicles set in the outside garden amongst the ruins.

She explained that most students stay with host families but bed and breakfasts or hotels can be arranged. Here students can study Spanish or Mayan languages such as K’iche, Q’eqchi and Mam among others. Participants also have their Salsa class and visits are made to the Chichicastenanago market. This school has worked with students from the US Embassy, Harvard, Virginia Commonwealth and the World Bank. Student fees at PLFM go to support Mayan people and their continuation of their culture and language. The half day schedule rate is $125 a week ($90 for the afternoon session.) Learn more andregister directly with the school at www.spanishschoolplfm.com (in English) or www.plfm.org(in Spanish) or email info@spanishschoolplfm.com. Students who prefer to make arrangements with the school’s US representative (for an additional $75 registration fee) can do so via Language Link at langlink.com or 800-522-2051.

Did I mention how breathtakingly beautiful La Antigua is? This one mile square, completely cobblestoned city, with its baroque colonial architecture, was once the capital of Central America (New Spain.) Actually most visitors see quaint streets. (I see sprained ankle waiting to happen.)

All three schools plan excursions for their students but my group used the services of an excellent local guide Catarina (Cathy) Moreira. She was friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. (Reach her at kuktours@gmail.com or Cattymor@hotmail.com or 502-5365-1090 or visit Kuktours.com.)

I particularly enjoyed the excursions selected for us from Antigua. We visited the local markets at Tecpan and the biggest and most well known market of Chichicastenango which is held on Thursdays and Sundays.

At Chichicastenango we shopped for handicrafts, and made visits to the church, a mask and costume workshop, and to the colorful cemetery where visitors invariably encounter a shaman performing Mayan rituals. (For overnight stays, the Hotel Santo Tomas is beautiful as is the Hotel Maya Inc.)

We also visited Lake Atitlan, formed in a volcanic crater (just one of 33 volcanoes in Guatemala) and it’s possible to take a small boat from one side to the other for a day trip or lunch.

Our group was warned that we had to make the return trip by 3:45 pm or passage would be impossible due to the winds called Xocomil. We also visited the archaeological sites of Iximche and Mixco where we saw a Mayan Ceremony performed.

Day trips by plane to the Tikal ruins are also popular with visitors as are hikes to toast marshmallows in a volcano.

Arch Street

Café Condesa Restaurant

Courtyard of Café Condesa

Plaza Mayor

WiFi available in Plaza Mayor

La Merced Church

Horse drawn carriages at the Plaza Mayor

PLFM Outdoor classrooms by ruins

Row of classroom cubicles at PLFM

Learning Cubicles

Cathy Moreira and artist at his studio across Lake Atitlan

Vegetable Market at Chichicastenango

Interior Courtyard of Hotel Santo Tomas

Boats Rides offered across Lake Atitlan

Volcano by Lake Atitlan

Mayan Ceremony

Article and Photos By Lisa Skriloff

Thursday, Mar 31, 2011


The Mohonk Mountain House Ballroom Dance Weekend December 2010

If you’ve packed your bag for the weekend with ballroom dance shoes, a tuxedo, a ball gown, and a blaze orange hunter’s safety vest, you’re probably on your way to Mohonk Mountain House’s Ballroom Dance Weekend, held every December.  I’ve been wanting to go for years and finally this past December John and I were able to get there for their 21st annual dance weekend.

The weekend includes a Saturday night black-tie optional dance, (this year to the live music of George Gee and his Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra), so we were prepared with the clothes for that (and I wish I had thought to bring elbow-length long gloves like those I spotted on the dance floor.) When we checked in we were handed a Ballroom Dancing Weekend schedule of classes as well as dances to live music. And, along with that itinerary, since Mohonk Mountain House is adjacent to Mohonk Preserve, in the New Paltz, NY area, and other landowners’ property where hunting is permitted, we were also given a memo advising us that hunting season was open and to request a safety vest if we planned to hike beyond the Mohonk Mountain House grounds.

Hike? You mean, outside? That was not going to be an issue for us since, once we handed over the car to the valet attendant upon arrival Friday afternoon, we didn’t leave the property until Sunday. Baby, it was cold outside and there was a full slate of dance classes and dancing to do, plus cozy fireplaces to sit in front of in the lounges, not to mention the one in our room. (In fact, Housekeeping comes around and knocks on the door to see if you need more firewood. PS We had a balcony too.)

The weekend featured a Gala Friday night dance, the Saturday night dance and a Sunday farewell dance at 11 am, all with live music. There also were ten classes to choose from, starting with a basic ballroom class for beginners held Friday from 830 to 9 pm, just before the evening dance began.

Who goes to this Mohonk weekend? We met couples from White Plains, Rockland County and Long Island, New York and from the Philadelphia area and beyond. Many were back for their 3rd time. Age-wise, a few couples were in their 20’s and 30’s, many in their 40’s, most in their 50’s and 60’s, and some 70’s, maybe 80’s.

And I say “couples” because this was no “singles” weekend. You’d better come with a partner or you won’t be dancing. This is not like those dance weekends where you can go by yourself and there will be people to dance with in class and during the dances. Nope. This is a romantic weekend for couples who enjoy dancing and each other.

And they are serious about dancing, which I concluded from the fact that about 70 or 80 percent were wearing ballroom dance shoes.

Upon checking in we got into the dance mood right away as we were escorted to room number 567 (and 8, as we called it.) The all inclusive cost covers not only meals and all lessons and dances but tips for the valet, housekeeper and bell boys as well.

We arrived just barely in time Friday for the 4PM daily afternoon tea and cookies, so I raced down there to the Lake Lounge and to explore the property. There was no TV in the room but I spotted one or two TVs in the various lounges. No matter; dancers want to be dancing. The staff told us that about 50% of the guests were there for the ballroom dance weekend. Other theme weekends at Mohonk, with dates selected every month of the year to maximize occupancy during slower periods, involve chocolate, yoga, crosswords, mystery, birding, photography, triathlon training, dieting and family fun.

We had made 7:30 pm dinner reservations for both Friday and Saturday night, so we’d be ready to dance when the band started at 9 pm. (All other meals are buffet style so reservations are only needed for dinners.) On my self- guided tour that afternoon, I had peeked into the main dining room and saw the decorated Christmas tree, the stage for the band and the dance floor at the front of the room. So, when we arrived for dinner, I protested when they tried to seat us downstairs in the overflow room. They caved easily, but once seated upstairs I came to see that it was the downstairs dining room that is the kids-free zone but by then it was too late to change again. So, our first meal was accompanied by the sounds of a Thomas the Tank Engine video on a child size DVD player at the next table. Lunch and dinner the next day were eaten in the downstairs dining room.

Meals were delicious and the wine list was notable. Dinners are a four-course affair and ours included Local Hudson River Valley Artisan Cheese Plate, Grilled New York Strip Steak with Yukon Gold Duchess Potatoes and Natural Jus, Pan-Seared Sea Bass with Butternut-Squash Purée and Creamed Leeks and mint chocolate chip ice cream. We enjoyed the wine so much we even made a note to remember it: a Joseph Carr Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.

While we were waiting for dessert I excused myself to go peek into the Parlor Room to see who was taking the basic class. There were about 20 couples learning a basic swing and salsa and one could see they were beginners. I mention this because people always ask “Do I need to already know how to dance to go to a dance weekend?” But no. There were many newbies at Mohonk and so this is a lovely weekend whether you are an experienced dancer or not.

The Friday night band, Andy Moss and The Night Owls, a Hudson Valley orchestra, was scheduled to start at 9 pm and before the clock struck 9:01 the music was playing. (Punctuality was the watchword for the weekend as I also discovered the next morning when I was looking for breakfast. The breakfast buffet had ended at 9:30 but Continental Breakfast was promised in the Carriage Lounge Bar until 10:30. At 10:31 they were clearing it away.)

The first dance of the evening was “Our Love is Here to Stay” but no one was on the dance floor! Such a lovely song that we couldn’t resist being the first couple out there and by the time the song was over the floor was filled. The next song was a rumba but John said, “Port Now, Rumba later” so we went downstairs to The Carriage Lounge for a quick after-dinner drink. Sitting at the bar, with some other guests, we could hear the dancers loudly above us. The phrase “a herd of elephants” was mentioned but doesn’t seem apt given how really good the dancers were.

Back upstairs on the dance floor, we did a tango, merengue and that rumba, a fox trot to “Isn’t it Romantic” and a waltz to “Someday My Prince Will Come” but Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” was a quick step so we sat that one out. By the end of the second set the crowd had thinned by half, and by the third set, which started at 11:10,  it was  down by half again. It’s dangerous for a band to take a break at 10 minutes to 11 pm on a Friday after everyone’s drive up to the country.

On Saturday there was a choice of two classes at 9:30 AM: Beginning Salsa/Mambo & Cha-Cha or Intermediate Fox trot and two at 10:45 AM :Advanced Swing or Beginning Swing. These morning classes were the most popular, with 25 to 35 couples in each. The afternoon classes were smaller. We chose Advanced Salsa/Mambo over Intermediate Tango at 1:30 pm and then Intermediate Rumba/Merengue over Advanced Waltz. While it was called “Advanced” Salsa, I would characterize us as simply more advanced than the beginners. When the instructor Laurie Shayler polled us at the start of the class whether we wanted to work on “turns” or on “shines” she was met with silence until someone finally admitted “I don’t think we know what ‘shines’ are.”

At 4:15 pm a fifth hour of instruction was offered, a Beginning Fox trot and Waltz class. I was debating between Stretch & Tone in the Gym or Afternoon Tea. You can guess which won. I would have liked to have gone to the spa too. Note to Mohonk: Why not include that 50-minute “Real Relief for Calves and Feet” massage spa treatment in the next dance weekend package?

What were people wearing? If you care about being under or over dressed, or care if you are the only one wearing (or not wearing) a swing outfit, you always want to know this answer. For Friday night, here’s what the women were wearing, statistically: 25% LBD (little black dress); 25%  other dresses; 25% nice pants; 25% leggings/other casual pants. Saturday night was the black tie optional dance and John wore his tux. (You don’t have to ask him twice. Or even once, really. He owns 3.) Probably 30% of the men were in tuxes and the rest in suits but some of those jackets came off. We ate in the downstairs dining room Saturday night, mingling with the non-ballroom guests, and he was the only one eating dinner in a tux there.  Finally, ladies, here’s your chance to wear your elbow length gloves in a non-ironic,  non-Halloween way!

Saturday night was our favorite:  George Gee and his Make-Believe Ballroom Orchestra, whom we’d follow anywhere. We’d danced to his music in New York City at Lincoln Center’s summer outdoor dancing series, “Midsummers Night Swing”; in Chinatown at the Grand Harmony Palace Restaurant’s Sweet and Sour Swing dances; on Restaurant Row at Swing 46, and at the World Financial Center.  John also danced to their music in San Francisco at the Velvet Lounge some years back. We waltzed to their “Apple Blossom Time” and did plenty of chachas and swing dances plus a tango or two and tried out our newly learned Mambo routine with a shine (Or was it a rumba? I don’t know; you’ll have to ask John what we were dancing.) George Gee has a Bossa Nova in his repertoire, which John said he “blamed” as the reason to sit that one out and get a drink at the bar. This second night, they had the good idea to set up a bar at the edge of the dance floor so we didn’t have to run up and downstairs to the Carriage Lounge.

The last dance of the evening was “Take the A Train,” so George sent us off with a fast swing. (We know for sure it’s going to be the last dance when we hear a band play Bob Hope’s anthem, “Thanks for the Memories.”) The evening was over, but, wait!, there’s more! Sunday AM. This is a crowd that chooses dancing over dining. One last practice session at 10 am and then a Farewell Dance at 11 that conflicted with the start of the gourmet brunch buffet spread, going on at the same time.

The Night Owls were back and mixed it up so we did a fox trot to “Dancing Cheek to Cheek,” plenty  of swing and then they played “It Was Just One of Those Things” as a quickstep so we had to sit that out. The Quickstep is one of the few dances we both want to sit out. When they played “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” John said it was too early for Viennese Waltz. John won’t hustle either but that didn’t come up this weekend. (I see it will be featured in March as one of the dances “Mohonk Thinks You Can Dance” and will be taught by our other Ballroom Weekend teachers, Candace Woodward-Clough and Jeni Breen.)

After 7.5 hours of dancing over the entire weekend we earned our brunch buffet. Check out time was at the unheard of 2 pm so we had time for a leisurely brunch and we indulged.

Then we went for a little hike on Sunday for 30 minutes just so we could say we did. (Actually 15 of those minutes was spent standing in front of the stone fireplace at the back of the outdoor skating rink.) Just steps out the back door of Mohonk Mountain House there is a choice of a high road or low road. We took the high road, which the sign warned would be steep and it brought us along the rocky edge, overlooking the Shawangunk boulders way up above the lake, and I heard John muttering something about the armless guy in “127 Hours.” Soon we reached a switch back and we could see ahead that the path went straight up, away from the edge of the cliff but also away from the view of the lake.
John said, “Yeah, we’re not going any further,” so we turned around.

One last thing we both agreed to sit out.

Next year’s Ballroom Dance Weekend will be December 2 – 4, 2011 but you don’t need to wait until the end of the year to dance. The “Mohonk Thinks You Can Dance” Weekend, which many of our December Ballroom friends had been to, will be Mar 18-21, 2011.  Also scheduled, a Winter Harvest Weekend, a Cousin Brucie’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend and a Couple’s Romantic Weekend, which all include dancing. Mohonk Mountain House is located about 90 minutes from New York City.

For more information and reservations call 800-772-6646 or visit www.mohonk.com

By Lisa Skriloff
www.dancetravelnews.com
lisa@multicultural.com

Dancing Couple
Dancing Couple
Dancing Couple
Dance Hold
Fireplace in the Lake Lounge
Bringing firewood to guestrooms
Ice Skating at Mohonk
View of Mohonk from Trail
 
Tuesday, Mar 03, 2011
 

Feature Article: Mount Airy Casino Resort Begins Outreach to Asian Americans

Along with the completely brand new hotel, Mount Airy Casino Resort, which was built on the grounds of the Mount Airy Lodge, that quintessential Pocono Mountain hotel known from its heyday in the 50s and 60s, comes a 21st century marketing outlook: targeting Asian Americans.

Mention Mount Airy to any boomer-aged New Yorker and you might get a spontaneous rendition of their ubiquitous TV commercial jingle, “All you need to bring, is your love of everything. Come to beautiful Mount Airy Lodge.”

Come this summer, a Mount Airy ad is more likely to have a message in Chinese, beckoning visitors to the Casino, where, pending final regulatory approval, table games will be available, including Pai Gow poker, a table game favored by Chinese casino-goers.

The Poconos, long known as a family ski destination and for its honeymoon hotels famous for their heart shaped bathtubs, will now see a pioneering initiative undertaken by Mount Airy as the Casino Resort begins outreach to Asian Americans.

Download the full article: Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Feature Article: Multicultural Arizona

Discovering what’s multicultural about Arizona is a relaxing, delicious and educational experience. First stop, the Spa at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix for an 80 minute Native American inspired Deam Catcher aromatherapy massage. The dream catcher, a small hoop with a net, feathers and beads, used by the Woodland Indians, is placed in the room, “to catch the guest’s stresses or any negative energy,” explained Laura Geis, spa sales manager.

Then warm basalt stones from Arizona river beds, used by Native Americans as a healing art, she said, are placed on your back. “The energy from the full moon recharges the stones and we incorporate them into the massage, placing them along the spine,” Laura said. Then, essential oils are dripped along the spine. Thus, “Raindrop” therapy, she explained, brings energy from the sun, and this La-Kota practice is incorporated into the massage. The eight Chakra oils used include lavendar for self empowerment, bergamot for vision, patchouli for wealth eucalyptus for communication and lotus for wholeness. Can a centuries old practice work on modern day stresses? By the end of the massage, my blackberry weary fingers felt better, and at the same time that I was completely relaxed, I had also thought up a great idea for my company’s Multicultural Speakers Showcase. Download the full article: Multicultural Arizona

Friday, November 20, 2009


Feature Article: Promoting Puerto Rico As a Meetings and Conventions Destination – Newly Renovated Convention Center is Focus of Campaign

The First Annual Puerto Rico Tourism Investment Conference
In December, over 350 delegates were in attendance at the newly renovated Puerto Rico Convention Center for the First Annual Puerto Rico Tourism Investment Conference, hosted by The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce. The Convention Center, a $415 million endeavor, is the newest, largest and most technologically advanced meeting facility in the Caribbean.

According to Terestella Gonzalez Denton, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), “The conference was produced with the dual purpose of promoting our Island as a place for tourism investment and development, while provoking and enriching exchange of ideas between local and international industry personalities.”

Download the full article: Puerto Rico Convention Center.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Feature Article: Rediscovering Croatia (Heritage Travel)

Heritage travel is gaining in popularity and Croatia is part of the surge. Second and third generation Croatian Americans are visiting this historic country to reconnect with their roots.

According to the Croatian National Tourist Office (CNTO), a significant number of informational calls come in regarding tourism from people of Croatian heritage, mainly those born in the U.S. who have never visited their homeland. These individuals hardly speak Croatian, but are very interested in their heritage and would like to learn more about the country their parents and grandparents grew up in, a spokesperson said.

Download the full article: Rediscovering Croatia (Heritage Travel)

Friday, May 18, 2007


Feature Article: The National Black Tourism Network: Little Known Missouri

Missouri has a rich heritage of African American history and tourists to the state are being encouraged to explore it along with the state’s more well known attractions. In an effort to attract African Americans, campaigns from the Missouri Division of Tourism and the efforts of experts like Angela daSilva of the National Black Tourism Network (a full service travel company that specializes in tours of the African Diaspora) highlight the history and rich heritage of African Americans in Missouri.

A 5-day van tour called, “Forgotten Missouri: What the Books Don’t Tell” organized by the National Black Tourism Network (NBTN) highlights and celebrates 250 years of African American history and culture. The tour takes visitors from Kansas City to St. Louis with stops in between. A resource binder compiled by Angela daSilva includes excellent information for travelers. The tour will be repeated in 2006 in the Spring and Fall.

Download the Full Article: The National Black Tourism Network: Little Known Missouri

Tuesday, November 29, 2005