TO LISTEN TO CURRENT OR PAST SHOWS, CHECK OUT THE LET'S TALK TRAVEL PODCAST PAGE! CLICK HERE
Check out Sandy's ongoing Patriot-News special travel features. Go to www.PennLive.com/travel - look for "Fenton's Favorites."
ALL SHOWS ARE SATURDAY 3PM-4PM
SATURDAY, MAY 18TH, 3PM-4PM - "PA TOURISM SUMMIT, Part 2 of 2" Our beautiful Commonwealth of Pennsylvania offers both residents and visitors a wide variety of unique travel opportunities. From world-class entertainment to all-season indoor and outdoor sporting and recreational activities to getaway weekends at cozy B&B's and historic country inns. Pennsylvania has it all! Big city celebrity chef fine-dining or small town mom and pop restaurants specializing in traditional local foods. Pennsylvania offers any escape or adventure imaginable. Tourism is more than a vibrant industry in Pennsylvania...it is critical to the economic well-being of our state...and our lives. Tourism ranks as the second-largest industry in Pennsylvania - accounting for more than 452,300 jobs. In 2011, visitors spent more than $37.2 -billion dollars and generated over $3.8 -billion in state and local taxes. Next Saturday you can discover why 175-million people travel to and within our Commonwealth as "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" features the third annual Pennsylvania Tourism Summit with part two of a two-part series broadcast. Interviews include Kim Schaller, the executive vice president of the Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company ; Mark Preston, Northeast sales manager for Trip-Advisor ; Michael Stershic, President of Discover Lehigh Valley ; Joseph Meade, Director of Government & External Affairs for Philadelphia Museum of Art ; Jim Werner, Partnership Director for Visit Philly and Joe Massaro, General Manager of Hilton Harrisburg. Pennsylvania has spectacular natural scenery, popular cosmopolitan cities , historic towns , rolling farmlands and more award-winning museums, cultural events and seasonal festivals than I can count. We will tell you what to see and do during your next local getaway or statewide family vacation in the Keystone State. www.patravelandtourism.org
SATURDAY, MAY 25TH, 3PM-4PM - "The All-Inclusive Regent Seven Seas Cruise Experience" Having recently returned from extensive Bahamas/Caribbean cruises, travel events and site inspections - I learned that the best value for upcoming summer and fall vacations may be the excellent discounts, particularly in the luxury travel brands. One of the best is the all-inclusive luxury cruise market and one of my favorites, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, continues to offer exceptional values on many worldwide sailings. Regent Seven Seas is an award-winning , all-suite , all-inclusive cruise line with three luxurious mid-sized ships (Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator), carrying 490 or 700 pampered guests, to some of the most glamorous and off-the-beaten-path places on the planet. Some of Regent's all-inclusive experiences include roundtrip air, unlimited shore excursions, pre-paid gratuities, specialty restaurants, unlimited beverages plus open bars, lounges and in-suite mini-bar replenished daily…and so much more. Kate Otto, Regent Seven Seas sales director, will be my in-studio guest next Saturday at 3 p.m. on "Let's Talk Travel with AAA" on WHP-AM580. Before you settle for the "same old - same old" vacation, be sure to tune in and learn why a Regent Seven Seas cruise may be a perfect fit for you.
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Americans choose travel as the ultimate life goal. According to several group polls and surveys, if Americans could only accomplish one goal in their lifetime, 72% would choose a travel goal. (Wakefield Research Poll)
And that's not all. A recent MMGY Global & Harrison group survey claims more leisure travelers traveled with children in 2011 and 2012 than ever before.
And why not?
Studies have shown that despite economic woes, Americans are still unwilling to totally give up their vacations.
We want to give (and receive) lifelong cherished memories and exciting new experiences with the people who matter most to us. The value of a shared, personal experience - such as a family vacation - offer greater value than material buys.
Many of us are searching for ways to buy holiday gifts that won't break, fade in the wash, collect dust , or go out of fashion.
And no matter what our income level is, we all want a good value for our travel dollar.
Whether it's a relaxing close-to-home weekend getaway ; a high-energy city escape ; a one week family cruise to the Caribbean ; or a romantic European river cruise - they are all on sale and would make the perfect gift…I promise!
Here are a few of my favorites for this holiday season :
**For busy couples needing a break -
Right in our own backyard, the beautiful and historic Hotel Hershey offers total relaxation with spa and romance packages. "Chocolate Covered February" is a popular month-long celebration kicking off with the always-delicious "Chocolate-Covered dinner and overnights at both the Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge. Remember, your days are numbered if you want to have dinner 'one more time' in the iconic Circular Dining Room - so make your reservations now. (Dinner at the Hotel Hershey followed by a Broadway show at the Hershey Theatre - what a great stocking stuffer!) www.hotelhershey.com
Down the road from Hershey, in Lancaster County, you'll find one of my favorite hidden gems - "The Inn and Suites at Leola Village". Fine dining at their new restaurant "TE", is an indulgent experience all on its own, but coupled with one of their romance packages is a well-deserved break from reality. www.theinnatleolavillage.com
If you can't get away for an overnight, how about one of the "Winter Wine Makers Dinners" in The Golden Sheaf at Hilton Harrisburg, but if you can extend your stay, the Hilton will offer special wine dinner room rates. www.hiltonharrisburgdining.com
**For crazed wives, stressed-out moms and girlfriend getaways -
Recognized as one of the best resorts in the country, elegant Bedford Springs presents several popular spa and golf packages less than 2-hours from Harrisburg. www.bedfordspringsresort.com
If it's wellness and over-the-top spa treatments you want (and your body is craving), the stunning Lodge at Woodloch (considered one of the top 10 spa destinations in the US) has it all. www.thelodgeatwoodloch.com
Recently renovated, the legendary Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, VA is a winter wonderland where you can take a dip in the steamy waters at the heated, spring-fed outdoor pool surrounded by the glorious mountain landscape...talk about escaping the real world. www.homesteadresort.com
**For everyone -
Do you love the idea of an exciting city break with renown celebrity chef dining; famous historical sites; designer shopping and cultural events? First quarter of the year (January thru March) brings fantastic hotel deals in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC and New York City. Typically, these energetic cities offer the best bang-for-the-buck on the weekends, including Sunday nights.
All popular chain motels and hotels, from the budget-minded and family friendly Hampton Inns to the luxurious and well-heeled Four Seasons - ( and everything in between) - are located in these cities. I recommend calling your hotel of choice directly and inquiring about all winter getaway packages and current promotions. Now is the time to ask about upgrades, free parking, comp meals and sightseeing tickets. Be sure to mention if you have any travel club affiliation, such as AAA, and have your membership number available.
Is skiing, ice-skating or tobogganing something you are looking to do? There are several affordable Pocono Mountains ski and sports getaways at a variety of lodging options. www.800poconos.com. A Fenton family favorite for 23-years is the all-inclusive, traditional and gracious Skytop Lodge. Complete with dog-sledding and a treetop adventure course - your entire family will love exploring this 5,500 pristine acre mountain estate. (mid-week rates offer the best discounts.) www.skytop.com
Of course we can't forget the "Happiest Place on Earth". Yes, that's really how Disney wants to be known. Not sure if I totally agree, but if planned the right way, with a Disney expert, you'll definitely be happier than someone who doesn't have a plan. (My favorite time to visit is the middle to end of January. Better pricing, fewer crowds and no lines.) January is "Disney Month" at AAA and I recommend planning your Disney vacation with an official AAA Disney expert for the best value and experience. www.aaa.com
All cruise lines are on sale with outstanding 2013 promotions, special incentives and value. If you are ready to "bump it up" or want to take the cruise vacation of a lifetime - your overall best value is on an all-inclusive, ultra-luxury cruise ship. Regent Seven Seas (www.rssc.com) , Silversea (www.silversea.com) and Seabourn (www.seabourn.com) are currently running some of the best offers I've ever seen. Particular savings can be found on Asia, South America, European and Caribbean voyages. Sailing onboard these elegant cruise lines is unlike any other experience at sea, but they are not for everyone and every preference. You need to talk with a seasoned cruise expert so you are given true comparisons to the deluxe, premium or contemporary lines. It can be confusing and when you're spending a lot of money for your cruise vacation, you must get expert advice. If you find a luxury cruise deal you want, lock it in now. If you wait, you lose.
The popular multi-generational premium lines of Holland America, Celebrity and Princess are offering excellent values to Alaska, Europe and the Caribbean.
The contemporary non-stop action mega ships of Royal Caribbean and NCL are tops with families and teens. Their homeport year-round cruises to the Bahamas, Florida and the Caribbean are on sale throughout the new year.
Even though European river cruising has exploded in popularity, there are special incentives available for 2013. These cruises sell out faster than you can imagine. Danube sailings are the first to go - so don't wait. When I was onboard Viking's "Prestige" last year, our Danube sailing was sold-out , with a wait list, for several months before our departure date. www.vikingrivercruises.com ; www.uniworld.com
I consider cruising the best family vacation value and easiest way for every family member to relax, enjoy and do what they want - when they want. I know I sound like a broken record, but you must talk to a cruise expert before booking your trip. (Especially if you are a first-time cruiser or want to experience another cruise line.) Ask about all discounts, incentives and special promotions. Getting onboard the right ship - at the right price - for you and your family is priority number one.
In closing , I'm often asked about travel related gifts and gadgets for stocking stuffers and additional gifts. I particularly like www.Magellans.com and www.travelsmith.com for travel gear, clothing and supplies. For travel guidebooks, go to www.workman.com.
EASY HOLIDAY TRAVEL AND FLYING TIPS:
*Make sure your passport is up-to-date. If you don't have one, get one. (www.passport.gov)
*Know what and how to pack. Pack as light as you can. For a guideline, go to www.tsa.gov
*Pack an organized carry on bag. Bring all prescription medicine and an extra pair of eyeglasses.
*Keep all travel documents handy and readily available.
*Bring something to entertain yourself and your kids. Quiet entertainment.
*Be prepared and arrive early. (2-hours domestic , 3-hours international)
*Make all train travel reservations now. (www.amtrak.com)
*If you haven't made your air reservations yet - there may still be availability - maybe. (www.flyhia.com)