Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More Skiing Vacation Bargains for Your Winter Vacation

We all love the word free, especially when used in connection with travel. Here's how to save green this ski season with these great vacation package deals from top resorts --

Crested Butte, Colorado is famous for its early season packages that give away free lift tickets. Ski for free. The freebie is good from opening day Nov. 26 -- that's the day before Thanksgiving -- throuugh Dec. 15, 2008. Find a choice of "Stay and Ski Free" packages starting at $63 per night, on the Crested Butte website. One choice is Elk Mountain Lodge in downtown Crested Butte, a great old-fashioned Western town. You'll get a room with king bed, full bath, mountain view, breakfast and lift tickets for two for $125 plus tax per night. Room, breakfast and lift ticket for less than the price of a lift ticket alone. Now that's a great green travel deal! And you get to ski one of the best mountains in Colorado. Some of my favorite runs are off the Paradise chairlift. I've said more than once I want to ski another day in Paradise.

Waterville Valley, New Hampshire offers a $30 gas voucher for guests staying three nights or longer. And packages start at $77 per person per night, though Dec. 21. Add a semi-private ski lesson for just $35 per person. Waterville Valley is about two-hours drive from Boston, six from New York City, in the scenic White Mountains. It also boasts one of the most diverse -- and picturesque -- cross-country ski trail systems in the Northeast.

Are you currently on active duty or a retiree? Diamond Peak in North Lake Tahoe is giving away free lift tickets for people with an active military ID. The offer is good Mondays through Fridays in non-holiday periods, such as Xmas-New Year's week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Best Early Season Ski Deals

Hard to believe, but the green leaves are turning autumn colors -- and the snow is falling already on some mountaintops. Time to start planning your winter ski trip. Where to travel this season?

The question really is when to go skiing to get the best deals. And the answer to that is easy -- early season offers some of the best bargains, and, the slopes, restaurants and hotels are not yet over-flowing with holiday crowds. Here are some great deals that will save you green dollars --

Winter Park, Colorado -- Save 25% on stays of four nights or longer if you book by October 12, 2008. Packages start at $143 per person per night, including a lift ticket. There's an enormous variety of terrain here for any level of skier --novices and others who like long cruising runs will be happy on Vasquez Ridge. I, for one, like to challenge my knees and my self-confidence on the black diamond runs of Mary Jane mountain, where I skied myself into more than one embarrassing splat last season.

Beaver Creek, Colorado -- Technique Weeks are an intensive improvement program, with lots of personalized instruction. The program includes four days of lift tickets interchangeable for Vail and Beaver Creek, the ability to demo 2009 skis and boots, lots of meals and cocktail parties, four days of instruction and a DVD that shows how much you improved and how much fun you had. If you book by Nov. 15, 2008, you also get an Epic Season Pass -- this would cost you $579 if you bought it. The pass gives you an epic choice (okay, pardon the pun) of unlimited skiing at five memorable mountains -- Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge in Colorado and Heavenly in Lake Tahoe. Technique Week reservations can be made through the Hyatt Beaver Creek.

Lake Tahoe -- No more excuses. If you've ever wanted to learn to ski or snowboard, or wanted your significant other or best buddy to join you on the slopes, head for North Lake Tahoe the weekend of December 13 and 14 for the 9th Annual Learn to Ski and Board Weekend. For just $25, you get an all-day beginner lift ticket, group lesson and gear rental. Just $25. That's about what it would cost to stay home and do nothing except a movie with popcorn and soda. And you can choose any of nine resorts to learn at -- including Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak, Granlibakken, Homewood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA and Sugar Bowl. Reservations are not required, but plan to show up early. Buy tickets at the resort you choose to spend the day playing in the snow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Top Cities to Run or Watch a Marathon

One of the best ways to enjoy visiting a city is on foot -- and it's a great green way to travel, too -- an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. Some of us, though, prefer to run. And others of us like to watch the runners. For both of you, welcome to Marathon Season.

The days are cooler, the summer tourist crowds have gone home, and the streets are being taken over by both elite athletes and us mere mortals who want to keep in shape or challenge their personal best. Here's a list of some upcoming marathons:

October -- The Bank of America Chicago Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 12, 2008, with runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries will set out to accomplish a personal dream. It's known for its fast, flat course, that is a scenic tour of 29 diverse Chicago neighborhoods and dozens of local and historic landmarks.

November -- The ING New York City Marathon is arguably one of the world's great road races, drawing more than 100,000 applicants and some two million cheering spectators, more if you add in the 300-plus million people around the world who watch the race on television. This year's race is Sunday, November 2, 2008. The NYC Marathon also is one of the richest in the marathon circuit, with more than $600,000 in prize money. No wonder it attracts so many world-class professional athletes -- including this year Olympian Kara Goucher, pictured here crossing the tape at the Beijing Olympics. More than 700,000 runners have participated in this grand tour of New York City's five boroughs since the first race. That was in 1970. There were 127 runners.

December -- The Las Vegas Marathon will take place on Sunday Dec. 7, 2008, with runners leaving from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino at 6 a.m. Remember, this is Las Vegas, so an ordinary starter's pistol isn't theatrical enough. Fireworks start the race, as 20,000 runners sprint or jog down the legendary Las Vegas Strip, including an "only in Vegas" opportunity to run thru the famous Wedding Chapel.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Air France Earns Top Envirornmental Certification

It's called ISO 14001, and it's the world's toughest green standard to meet. In the world of travel, just a handful of hotels have earned this top international environmental award, and no airlines that I know of -- except Air France, which has just been granted the right to call itself a green travel airline for its environmental efforts.

Congratulations, Air France. Or, as they say in Paris, Mervielleux! So, even though your logo is red, white and blue, you are really and truly GREEN.

This ISO 14001 certification applies for all Air France activities all over the world, not just within France. And it covers such things as gas emissions from aircraft and water and energy consumption on the ground, and every one of the 63,000 employees of Air France is involved.

So here's my official challenge to all the other airlines of the world -- if Air France can do it, why can't you?

And my invitation to you supporters of Green Travels -- if you are going to a destination served by Air France, get on board and support their award-winning effort to lessen their impact on the environment.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Travel Deals for Fall and Winter

If you are a traveller -- and you wouldn't be reading this if you aren't -- then you welcome Labor Day not as the end of the summer but as the beginning of the travel bargain season. This is the time of year to save green.

Labor Day is the day rates drop for hotel rooms and airplane seats. The travel industry calls it 'shoulder season', but don't ask me why or how it got that name. It's low season through mid-November, when prices rise again for the high-priced holidays.

So, here are some great travel deals to take advangtage of -- quick -- before they disappear:

Delta Air Lines has put Hawaii on sale. If you book before Sept. 18th, you can fly for as low as $299 each way between the Mainland and either Honolulu or Kona.

Virgin Atlantic has put London on sale. You can hop across the pond before Oct. 18th for as liittle as $696 round trip from NYC or Boston, $806 from Miami and Orlando, and $950 from Los Angeles. The price is even lower for travel after zoct. 18th.

African Travel, Inc., which specializes in luxury African safaris, is offering free round trip air fare to Africa -- worth more than $1,500 -- from October through December. Choose from a 12-day trip to South Africa and Victoria Falls, or 13 days in Northern Tanzania. Accommodations are in luxury camps, and you'll get the chance to see the Big Five, which incudes elephants, lions and rhinos. It's an amazing experience.

Or, head for the Caribbean in January, when it's warm and sunny and the holiday crowds have left and you have the beach to yourself. Reserve any time this month to save 25% at The Reef Resort in the Grand Cayman islands.

You don't need a US Passport to visit the US Virgin Islands. where most of the top resorts are offering five nights for the price of four between January 1 and March 31, 2009. Just make your reservation before Oct 31, and this travel bargain also includes $300 in travelers checks, and a coupon book with savings on activities and attractions.

Here are just some of the USVI luxury resorts on the islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas joining in this offer this fifth-night-free deal --

  • The Palms at Pelican Cove, Chenay Bay Beach Resort,
  • Carambola Beach Resort & Spa,
  • Divi Carina Bay Resort,
  • Hibiscus Beach Resort,
  • Sand Castle on the Beach,
  • The Buccaneer,
  • Best Western Emerald Beach,
  • The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas,
  • Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort,
  • Sapphire Beach Resort and Sapphire Village,
  • Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on St. Thomas.

Travel green and save green during shoulder season.