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Black Friday Deals Abound for Orlando

Visit Orlando, the official association and travel planning expert for Orlando, offers an additional 10 percent discount on all purchases made at starting on November 20 to celebrate the start of the holiday shopping season.

To access the promotion, visit between November 20 and 29 and use the promotional code, "GIFT."

Shoppers will find exclusive deals and discounts to more than 40 world-famous theme parks, attractions and dinner shows. Most are valid through one year from purchase, so they make great gifts for anniversaries, family vacations, or other special events throughout the year.

The Black Friday 10-percent-off offer is in addition to some notable savings opportunities at popular Orlando-area theme parks, including:

- Walt Disney World Resort:

Savings start at $30 per ticket on Flexible Date Disney tickets.

Guests who purchase a 5-day or longer Flexible Date ticket also receive a free commemorative Toy Story towel with each order while supplies last.

- Universal Orlando Resort:

Guests who purchase a 3-Park, 2 Day Park-To-Park ticket receive an additional two free days of unlimited admission to Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, and Universal's Volcano Bay for a total savings of $65 per ticket.

- SeaWorld Orlando: Guests receive 2 days for the price of 1 with a 2-Day, 2-Park ticket that can be used at SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens Tampa for a savings of $75 per ticket.

- LEGOLAND Florida Resort: Guests receive a second day of free admission with the purchase of a single day admission for a savings of $35 per ticket.

The Orlando area offers more than 450 hotels not only convenient to theme parks and family activities, but also offering a mix of vacation experiences including water parks, entertainment venues, unique and diverse dining experiences, sports, and nightlife, to appeal to all ages and interests.

For more information on how to save money on next year's vacation, or give the perfect gift experience, check out starting November 20.

The Big Appeal of Small City Vacations

The good news is that there are many places outside of major cities for great culture and cuisine, but with a more laid-back feel.

Blue-Roads, a world leader in small group touring, specializes in taking you to these more intimate destinations where you get the best of both worlds. Here are a few ideas for authentic experiences coupled with a relaxed pace that allow you to truly decompress and better enjoy your travels:

Bilbao, Spain. Millions of tourists flock annually to Catalonia's capital, Barcelona, for its world-class art museums, its imposing gothic architecture and Northern Spanish delights such as paella. In Bilbao, you'll find equally appealing character and ambiance. In this rugged coastal city, steep yourself in Basque culture, history and cuisine. It's renowned for its fresh seafood and Basque foodways, its world-class Guggenheim Museum, and it's amazing indoor food market and contemporary architecture. On Blue-Roads' Highlights of Northern Spain tour, you'll explore the iconic Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim and dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant.

Granada, Spain. Madrid may be famous for its great European masterworks and breathtaking architecture, notably the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor, but Granada is a jewel in its own right. You'll marvel at Granada's equally breathtaking Moorish architecture, a distinctive mix of Islamic and Arabic influences. No visit to Granada is complete without seeing the splendor of the Alhambra's palace and gardens from its plateau in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with a sweeping vista overlooking the city. Included in the Iberian Inspiration tour is an exploration of this famed place, considered one of the finest masterpieces in Islamic architecture.

York, England. While few cities can match the lure of London, it is a very crowded destination. About three and a half hours north is York, one of the best-preserved ancient walled cities in the world. It dates back to Roman times. It's also one of the most picturesque places in England. The Heart of Britain tour brings you into the heart of Old Town York. Steps built in the middle ages bring you to the top of the city wall where you can take in dazzling views before sitting down to enjoy a pint or a meal.

Galway, Ireland. Ireland is famous for its rugged coastline, majestic castles and emerald green hills. Be sure not to limit yourself to Dublin or Belfast, though. Don't miss Galway, considered Ireland's cultural heart and designated the European Cultural Capital 2020. Known for its traditional Irish music, Galway is rich in medieval history, street art and is the birthplace of the traditional Claddagh ring. On Blue-Roads' Emerald Isle tour, you'll soak in the vibrant energy of this eclectic city, including a walking tour of the harbor city of Galway, where fisherman have lived and worked for centuries.

Who says you can't have it all? When you visit one of these less-traveled cities featured in Blue-Roads Tours, you'll replace the day-to-day with a getaway to remember.


Your Bucket List Isn’t Complete without These Five Experiences

The best adventures - the ones that stay with us for years - are immersive. They engage all our senses, inspire us to see the world in a new light and introduce new cultures and customs. To get the most from these experiences, you need to uncover hidden treasures and details that that you won't find in a guidebook.

Blue-Roads Touring, a leader in experiential travel, gives you a taste of what it's like to be a local. The company hires only experienced tour leaders, many of whom are former professors, artists and actors, allowing them to dig deeper into the art, history and culture of the region.

Ready to add some new experiences to your bucket list? Try these: 

Soak Up the Italian Countryside 

How do you describe a 12-day tour of Northern Italy? In a word: Indulgence. On a Blue-Roads Italian Indulgence tour, you'll spoil yourself in the region's riches - from sumptuous food and wine to the glamour of the Italian Riviera. Highlights include cooking a classic Tuscan lunch from the comfort of your own villa, wine tasting in the Piedmont region and truffle hunting with a local farmer in Cherasco. 

Burgundy or Loire Valley by Barge 

The only thing that can make exploring the French countryside even better is doing it by riverboat. With just 10 cabins and 20 passengers, your intimate Blue-Roads boutique barge has all the luxuries of a lavish hotel, including French cuisine by a formally trained chef, a sundeck and Jacuzzi. Whether you venture to Burgundy or to the Loire Valley, you'll enjoy serenely traversing the countryside by canal. On land, you can discover charming towns town on foot or bicycle and visit vineyards and farms to sample the best of the local region. 

The Frontlines of World War I 

History is more than what we read in books. Blue-Roads' signature battlefield tours take you to the frontlines of the "war to end all wars," in Ypres and the Somme, and to memorials honoring the fallen. A highlight is that Blue-Roads connects you to relatives who gave their lives in the war so that you may pay your respects graveside. 

British Royalty

Anglophiles, this is what you've been waiting for! This nine-day Royal Tour of Britain brings you to the castles and residences of famous monarchs - past and present. From Balmoral Castle, the Scottish holiday home of the royal family to Buckingham Castle, St. James' Palace and the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, Blue-Roads rolls out the red carpet on this unforgettable journey. 

Croatia: The Crown Jewel of Europe 

Walk in the footsteps of feudal kings and queens in Croatia, which provides the backdrop for many epic scenes in the fantasy series, "Game of Thrones." Scale the Diocletian's Palace. Sip wine at family owned Bibich Winery, where the vineyards are over five hundred years old. Then set sail for Korcula, an enchanting island and the reputed birthplace of Marco Polo. Nature, history , adventure - Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast has something for everyone.

Now that you've got five more extraordinary places and experiences for your bucket list, what are you waiting for?

Safeguard Your Jewelry on Summer Vacation

Unfortunately, the Emblings aren't alone. In fact, Jewelers Mutual conducted a recent survey on travel and jewelry loss or theft and found that the number of jewelry losses, based on survey responses, has doubled compared to their 2015 survey. The most common place to lose jewelry? The beach (27 percent of reported losses).

The survey also revealed that only 1 percent of travelers who lose jewelry report recovering the piece.

"Approximately 40 percent of consumers are devastated or experience a high level of emotional impact from a lost piece of jewelry," said Don Elliott, director of claims at Jewelers Mutual.

Avoid becoming a vacation victim with these six travel tips from Jewelers Mutual's new travel guide:

* Take pictures of items before your trip in case you need to file a police report.

* Avoid posting pictures of your jewelry and location on social media.

* Leave jewelry off while swimming.

* Wear or pack jewelry in a carry-on bag.

* Tuck necklaces and watches under necklines and cuffs when in dangerous areas.

* Keep necklaces safe and untangled in your bag by threading them through a straw; fasten earrings to an extra button to keep them together.

Jewelers Mutual puts travelers' minds at ease. The Wisconsin-based company has been in the business since 1913, and understands the value of jewelry and developing personal relationships with its customers.

While some homeowner's insurance plans cover an extent of personal property, the plans typically won't go as far as to replace a cherished piece that is lost or damaged. For those seeking to replace their lost treasure, Jewelers Mutual works with jewelers to recreate your lost, damaged or stolen jewelry so it can continue to be a prized possession for years to come.

Embling and her fiancé acted fast retracing their steps and discovered the ring in their hotel room, which happens to be the second highest place people lose their jewelry.

Visit for more information about insuring and protecting your most cherished memories.


Serenity Awaits at Calabash Cove Resort & Spa St Lucia

With a secluded beachfront location on the northwest (or Caribbean) side of the coast of the island of St. Lucia, Calabash Cove offers privacy and luxury for adults only.

The Calabash Cove guest list includes singles and couples, some honeymooners, some celebrating an anniversary or other special event, and others looking for a simple but elegant getaway with some personal space and well-prepared meals. Visitors come from the United States, Canada, Europe, and around the world.

The resort and spa is a full-service resort: the optional Unconditional All-Inclusive package covers all food and drinks including room service, daily specials, an in-room bar, lobster when in season, and more than 20 wines by the bottle from the resort's extensive wine list. Tips and Wi-Fi are included as well.

Part of the resort's appeal is its promise of intimacy - only 26 suites, all with a king bed, Jacuzzi, double vanity, rain shower, private balcony or patio, ocean view and cable TV. The resort is built along a sloping hill and was designed to complement and harmonize with the natural surroundings and offer guests full benefit of ocean breezes and sunset views.

The property includes a private beach with nearby coral reef, as well as tropical gardens and groves of trees to set the scene for reflection and relaxation.

Calabash caters to a quieter crowd, says owner Konrad Wagner

"If guests like a large, noisy, and ordinary resort, Calabash Cove Resort & Spa may not be best for them," he explains.

"A crowd for many of them is when three couples decide to charter a boat for the day to visit the Pitons for snorkeling."

Calabash guests "enjoy dinner music every night at a volume suitable for a conversation," he adds.

However, guests looking to sprinkle their serenity with activity can take advantage of a Cybex cardiovascular fitness center, or get out on the water with kayaks, paddle boards, and snorkeling gear, all available at no additional charge.

Calabash Cove is ideally situated five minutes north of Castries and five minutes south of Rodney Bay Village, with approximately 40 bars and restaurants to cater to a range of tastes when guests crave a change of scene.

Visit for more information.


Set the Stage for a Memorable Family Reunion

However, nothing quite replaces the in-person contact with family, and family reunions continue to remain a popular way to connect.

In fact, technology makes organizing a memorable event easier, as family members near and far can collaborate on a date, time, and most importantly, location.

When organizing a family reunion, the first rule of thumb is to start scouting locations that are easy to reach from many locales. Travel hubs such as Dallas, Denver, and St. Louis are always popular. Smart families book spots a year in advance.

Another tip from experienced family reunion planners: find a hotel that specializes in group experiences.

The Magnolia Hotel Collection, for instance, has locations in a range of family-friendly cities, including Dallas, Denver, Houston, Omaha, and St. Louis. And a New Orleans property adjacent to the French Quarter is scheduled to open later in 2019.

The recently renovated Denver and Houston properties are especially convenient for guests who want easy and walkable access to downtown shopping, dining, and nightlife.

Standard features of all Magnolia hotels that make them well-suited to family reunions are:

- Comfort and care. Magnolia guests enjoy amenities, including complimentary internet access, fitness facilities, and transportation to local attractions.

- Professional planning. Magnolia staff are experts in event organizing; their customized services include creating menus for any meal and coordinating onsite or off-site activities and entertainment for a range of ages and interests.

- A place for everyone. In addition to luxurious rooms designed to accommodate guests of all ages, Magnolia hotels feature a variety of common spaces, including lounges and meeting rooms that can be used for larger group gatherings and smaller meet-and-greet events.

"With an inviting spirit and dedication to making guests feel instinctively cared for, you'll discover a genuinely attentive environment with a modern essence," according to the company.

Visit for more information about how the Magnolia family of hotels can make your next family event memorable, and check out the hotels on social media by searching for Magnolia Hotels on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


Fully Escorted Tours Introduce Retirees to Costa Rica

In fact, International Living magazine named Costa Rica number three, ahead of Spain, France, and Mexico, on its 2020 list of top places to retire. Other appealing features include the low cost of living and ease of buying real estate.

One of the reasons for capturing the top spot is that Costa Rica offers a diverse history and culture that make it an enriching location for travel, as well as retirement. Many retirees from the United States who are interested in living abroad have discovered the elements that make Costa Rica unique and special.

Anyone contemplating retirement either sooner or farther down the road can become familiar with Costa Rica through a fully escorted tour. Many time-share organizations will target tourists and can be scams, so it is important to make informed decisions about how to travel and explore. Companies such as Caravan Tours provide immersive experiences that include meals, transportation, and excursions across more than 750 miles of the country.

The Caravan Costa Rica Natural Paradise tour offers nine days of carefully chosen hotels, delicious meals, and entertaining excursions for an all-inclusive price. The relaxed, yet engaging, itinerary is designed to balance single- night and two-night stays for an unhurried pace, and each day includes scenic and rest stops. Comprehensive sightseeing with local guides provides an ideal opportunity for retirees and future retirees to become familiar with the country.

The Natural Paradise tour kicks off in San Jose, where Caravan tours provides easy transportation from the airport to the hotel. Day trips from San Jose include visits to a coffee plantation and an artists' village in the Central Mountain Range.

Other highlights of the tour include the Cano Negro Cruise, which passes through a wildlife refuge that is home to a variety of animals, including whistling ducks, howler monkeys, and water-walking lizards, followed by an evening soak in volcanic hot springs. In addition, travelers have opportunities to hike the suspension bridges of Guanacaste with a naturalist guide, and visit to the Manuel Antonio National Park with its spectacular rain forest and beach cove, as well as enjoy the amenities of a world class beach resort.

Caravan Tours is a member of ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents), NTA (National Tour Association), CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), and an allied member of ACTA (Alliance of Canadian Travel Agencies).

For more information about fully escorted tours to Costa Rica, visit


Must-See Travel Destinations for 2020

1. Hangaroa Eco-Village + Spa, Easter Island, Chile ( Located on the mysterious Easter Island in the South Pacific (home to mythical Moai statues), Hangaroa allows adventure-seeking travelers to get an inside look at the Rapa Nui culture and history. Guides lead guests to centuries-old archeological sites to unravel the mystery of how the giant, hand-carved heads came to be. Must-sees include the Rano Raraku volcanic crater (home to the island's largest statue) and Anakena Beach, where Polynesian culture first came ashore 800 years ago. For those wanting something more adrenaline pumping, opt for an ATV to explore the island.

The hotel stays true to its eco-friendly ethos. The 75 oceanfront rooms feature handmade clay tubs, stone showers and lots of natural light. After a day of exploring, head to the spa to be pampered with ancient rituals. A new added bonus: Full Experience guests can choose to dine at one of two local restaurants, including Kana Hau, which has a traditional Rapa Nui dance show!

2. The Singular Patagonia, Chile ( Situated in the heart of Southern Patagonia, The Singular is indeed a singular experience.

Once a cold storage plant at the epicenter of the sheep farming industry a century ago, the property has been resurrected as a luxury hotel (and a museum)! However, mother nature is the real draw. Just as previous explorers did, guests immediately fall in love with the surrounding awe-inspiring nature, as this bucket list hotel sits on the shores of a Fjord overlooking the snow-capped Andes. Guests feel like pioneers as they explore the area by private boat discovering glaciers and hidden waterfalls. Other once-in-a-lifetime excursions include trekking through Torres del Paine National Park, horseback riding across an "Estancia" with real-life gauchos or kayaking down winding rivers.

Any adventure wouldn't be complete without incredible food. The Singular uses locally sourced ingredients to deliver local favorites with a french flair. Try the hotel's traditional "Asador" (barbecue), set in a former Blacksmith's workshop serving a variety of locally raised meats.

3. Careyes, Pacific Coast ( Careyes is a destination unto itself where the jungle meets the sea, spanning more than 20,000 acres of nature reserve. A vibrant community of international residents and visitors spread across the property's Ocean Castle villas, Casitas and El Careyes Club & Residences along the cliffside, Careyes is more than just a beautiful resort. It is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to commune with nature, explore your sense of spirituality and appreciate the beauty of the earth and sea.

Rest assured, all of the unique accommodations are bucket-list worthy. The Ocean Castle Villas feature infinity pools, lush gardens and luxurious furnishings. The beachfront El Careyes Club features five infinity pools, the La Duna restaurant and spacious one- to four-bedroom suites perfect for families or groups. Careyes is an ideal location for a winter getaway, especially at one of their annual special events, including ArteCareyes Film Festival, Agua Alta Polo Tournament and the Ondalinda Festival.

4. Le Torri di Bagnara, Umbria, Italy ( If life in a sprawling castle sounds appealing, visit this 1,500-acre Italian estate owned by descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte. This restored medieval castle accommodates groups from 15 to 30 people, who enjoy the privacy of a private home coupled with the safety, security and amenities of a luxury hotel.

Le Torri di Bagnara has an official hotel license guaranteeing the highest standards, setting it apart from other Italian villa rentals. The estate boasts an infinity saltwater pool, stone barbeque, and vegetable gardens. Savor locally grown ingredients from the estate's working farm, including extra virgin olive oil, as well as truffles and mushrooms foraged right on the grounds.

Special activities include cooking classes, wine tastings, mountain biking, truffle hunting and photography. For families, a kids' playground keeps the little ones entertained. A must: soar high above the estate and surrounding countryside in a hot air balloon, followed by a gourmet picnic.

5. Costa Rican Vacations, Costa Rica ( Travelers seeking the ultimate in eco-travel, adventure and luxury can find it all through Costa Rican Vacations, which create complete and customized Costa Rican experiences. A popular place to start is Playa Cativo Lodge on the Osa Peninsula, which fronts a mile of pristine beach offering plenty of wildlife. Use the personal binoculars to catch close-ups of birds and sea turtles, plus a can't miss, whale-watching tour. Other must-do activities include a private air tour of the Sirena Ranger Station at Corcovado National Park or a visit to Nayara Springs, where the villas have private terraces with private plunge pools overlooking the Arenal volcano.

For the ultimate luxury experience, check out Costa Rica's Four Seasons in Guanacaste, where visitors can expect the ultimate in amenities and service, with offsite adventures, including zip lining, horseback riding and ATV tours.

6. Manoir Hovey, Quebec, Canada ( Manoir Hovey, a five-star Relais & Châteaux resort in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, was built in 1900 and inspired by George Washington's Mount Vernon estate.

The property is 90 minutes from Montreal and retains its historic charm; most of the 36 luxurious rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces, private balconies, and views of Lake Massawippi.

Foodies will have a field day at Manoir Hovey. Le Hatley, the hotel's fine-dining restaurant, is ranked among the best in the world, and chef Alexandre Vachon presents modern and diverse menus that showcase regional ingredients.

Guests can enjoy the bucolic country scenery and a range of activities year-round, including kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding in the warmer months, as well as guided speedboat tours and fly fishing.

Fall is an excellent time for foliage tours and hiking nearby, while in the winter, guests enjoy ice fishing with a local guide who sets up a sheltered area on the frozen lake, complete with a pizza oven on skis. Complete a bucket- list item with a thrilling dogsledding experience.

Fuel Your Adventures with Great Coffee on The Road

Most away-from-home coffee options have major drawbacks. Hotel room coffee makers are convenient and cheap, but the coffee they brew means a major compromise on taste. Local cafes often offer good coffee, but the cost of all those to-go cups can really add up. Existing travel coffee presses offer a way to brew while on the go, but they typically brew slowly and therefore brew a bitter and very acidic cup.

Travelers benefit from being able to brew delicious coffee quickly and easily wherever they are. Luckily there is a perfect way to do just that. The AeroPress Go travel coffee press brews up to three cups of delicious hot or cold brew coffee that is richer, smoother, and lower in acidity than coffee brewed by other travel presses. Simply add ground coffee and water, stir briskly, press, and enjoy a cup of hot or cold brew coffee in just a minute or two.

The AeroPress Go travels self- contained in its own mug with a lid, making it easy to fit in a suitcase, in a desk, with camping gear, in an RV or in a backpack. It is compact, lightweight, and durable, making it easy to transport. And it cleans up in just a few seconds with a quick rinse.

The AeroPress Go's ability to make cold brew coffee is a big additional advantage because it can be used where there is no access to hot water. Wherever you go, there is almost always a source of water, but often no way to heat it. Use the AeroPress Go to join the hot new trend of drinking coffee that's an amazingly smooth, rich cold brew. With the AeroPress Go, it's easy to brew a cup of cold brew using unheated water in about two minutes.

Visit for more information about how to brew great coffee on the road.


Five-Star Caribbean Resort Caters to Every Taste

The Bay Gardens Resorts properties are ideally situated to take advantage of the best restaurants, activities, and events that the community of St. Lucia has to offer. For example, the month of October featured the Saint Lucia Arts & Heritage Festival, and included music, theater, lectures, art exhibitions, and street parties, all conveniently located in nearby Rodney Bay Village for easy access by Bay Gardens guests who booked its Creole Heritage Special.

The feeling of community at Bay Gardens Resorts is mirrored in the resort's local ownership, which conveys a different vibe than a large, international chain resort.

Throughout its 25-year existence, the award-winning resort chain has been dedicated to sustainably developing its St. Lucian society. Participating in the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association's Virtual Agricultural Clearing House (VACH) and its farm-to- table approach when designing menus have fostered better linkages with local farmers.

As a Green Globe Gold Member, environmental responsibility plays a vital role in business affairs conducted by the brand. Additionally, the company invests in the growth of its local economies as most of the staff and management are local, highly expert and experienced in fielding questions, planning events, and providing customer service for everyone from business travelers to wedding parties to families with small children.

The Bay Gardens Resorts family of properties has something for every taste.

Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa, for instance, offers an all-inclusive experience that caters to those seeking plenty of sand and surf, as well as spa indulgence. Guests staying seven nights or more who opt for this option not only get the best value with access to the Rodney Bay Dine Around Program and an opportunity to dine at affiliated restaurants, but also significantly assist in contributing to the community.

The resort also includes a business center, wedding gazebo, and on-site water park.

By contrast, the Bay Gardens Hotel and Bay Gardens Inn provide luxury and pampering in intimate, boutique-style settings.

"Cherishing a long tradition of unmatched Caribbean hospitality, our hotel in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, has built a reputation on friendly service, stylish accommodations, and unforgettable scenery," according to the website for the Bay Gardens Hotel, and this combination of service, style, and scenery applies to the other properties.

A new addition to the Bay Gardens family is Bay Gardens Marina Haven, a 35-room space located within a botanical garden adjacent to the Rodney Bay Marina.

Want to be right on the water? Consider the Waters Edge Villas, a pair of private villas with luxury amenities and marina views.

Both the Waters Edge and Marina Haven provide complimentary shuttle service to the other Bay Resorts properties, so guests can take full advantage of the larger community of Rodney Bay, with its nightlife, shops, and restaurants.

Visit for more information.

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