Archive | March, 2009

The 2016 Olympic Games… in Ely, Minnesota!

Picture it, more than 1,000,000 visitors packing into Ely (population almost 4,000)? Crews are preparing, draining Miners Lake to create the first in-ground Olympic Stadium and carving seats into the rock. Olympic Village? Yep. Aquatic facility? Absolutely. Rhythmic gymnastics? Badminton? Judo? No problem.

Okay, okay… maybe you’re too quick for this bit of April foolery. Or, perhaps you remember last year when we reported Canada was annexing Ely? It made national news, including USA Today’s roundup of 2008’s best April Fool’s pranks. And was covered on TV stations as far away as Ft. Myers. The folks in Ely heard from people in Japan, Europe, even Antarctica!

It’s that time again. We’re here to let you in on the joke early so you have time to report it the way you’d like.

Ely, Minnesota, is part of one million acres of unspoiled Northern Minnesota wilderness. It’s famed worldwide, yet, many Minnesotans have still never visited. So, we’re getting up in their faces with some new pranks.

Starting April Fool’s Day, the city will be running radio spots announcing Ely has entered a last-minute bid (a couple years late) to the International Olympic Committee for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. There’s also a faux press conference video that will be posted on You Tube and Ely’s website,, and a new microsite, More than just an April Fool’s gag, this campaign is designed to run all summer and will involve the whole town. Everyone in Ely is getting into the act. Continue Reading

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Can a ski town be a summer attraction?

Waterville Valley Resort, New Hampshire, is one of the biggest ski destinations in New England. And, coming off a strong winter that is not a bad thing. Like many “ski towns” Waterville Valley is trying to build a year-round market – but the difference with this town in the White Mountains is that it was a summer destination for a century before anyone started skiing there.

Founded as a summer town in 1839, there was no skiing in Waterville Valley until the 1930s. Then in the 1960s, U.S. Olympic skier Tom Corcoran flew over Waterville Valley and knew he’d found what he was looking for—the perfect place for a planned community free from the urban sprawl of fast-food restaurants and big chain stores; a place where families could come to enjoy the outdoors in a safe, healthy environment.

The beginning of Corcoran’s vision was the Waterville Valley ski area, whose motto (“Altitude without the Attitude”) echoes the fun, family friendly atmosphere of the valley. By 1970 Waterville Valley was THE place to ski in the East, the only planned ski town, and the only one to offer Western-style Resort service east of the Rockies. Continue Reading

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Summer deal to Portugal : New Summer Escapes to the Azores

Azores-Express/SATA has announced its first every summer air and hotels packages to the Azores from Boston. They include 6-night deals in three hotels in Ponta Delgada, the main city on the island of São Miguel. The Azores Express 7-day/6-night air and hotel packages cost $1,179 to $1,220 per person (before tax) for travel from June 17, 2009 through September 14, 2009, depending upon choice of hotel. To book travel call 800-762-9995 or visit for more details.

All packages depart from Boston, include roundtrip air, six nights lodging and breakfast and passengers can upgrade from coach to SATA Plus Business-Class just a few hundred dollars each way. Kids under 6 stay free, and pay only a child’s airfare.

Passengers can pick for one of three hotels in Ponta Delgada:

In the center of Ponta Delgada, the historic Hotel Talisman has 53 rooms and 5 suites, all with air conditioning, satellite television, mini-bar and telephone. The recently renovated hotel has an on-site restaurant, bar and an esplanade. $1,220 per person, plus taxes

The modern VIP Executive Azores is a 4-star hotel, with 229 rooms, including 18 suites. It also has two restaurants, a bar, a disco, health club, solarium and an indoor pool. A cyber café will open this summer. $1,179 per person, plus taxes

The elegant Hotel do Colégio is a 4-star hotel in Ponta Delgada, located in a restored 19th century building. The on-site restaurant, A Colmeia, is considered one of the best in the Azores. $1,199 per person, plus taxes

Azores Express (part of the SATA Group) connects New England with the beautiful islands of the Azores. Year-round flights are available from Boston, with connecting service to Lisbon, Porto and Madeira. In season, Azores Express offers direct flights to Lisbon from Boston. For information call 800-762-9995 or visit

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Stranded whale may halt traffic in Hong Kong harbor

The Hong Kong Marine Department has warned that maritime traffic in Victoria Harbor, in the center of the southern Chinese city, could be halted to prevent harm to a stranded whale, the South China Morning Post said on Friday.

The 10-meter humpbacked whale first surfaced in Hong Kong’s busy shipping lanes on March 16. This is the first time a whale has appeared in the city’s waters and scientists believe it got lost while on its migration north from the tropical waters where it spent the winter. Continue Reading

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Google now offers street view for British destinations

Internet users can see a sample ” street view” of Britain as a result of a new partnership between the country’s national tourism agency, VisitBritain, and the world ‘s most popular search engine, Google.

The two organizations announced on Thursday to launch Google Street View in Britain which features 25 cities and towns from around Britain. Users of Google maps can use Street View to get an idea of some of the sights they can enjoy while visiting Britain with a virtual walking tour of destinations from the nations’ capitals London, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh, as well as major cities including Glasgow, Birmingham, Cambridge, Leeds and Oxford.

Last year, visits from overseas fell by two percent in the face of the global economic downturn and increasing competition from rival destinations. By working with Google Street View, undertaking innovative partnerships and exploring new ways of presenting Britain’s attractions, VisitBritain hopes the country could regain its place in the top five most popular destinations in the world. Continue Reading

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Vietnamese top list of foreign tourist arrival in Cambodia

Vietnamese people have surpassed South Koreans to top the list of foreign tourist arrivals in Cambodia in the past months of 2009, national media said on Friday.

There has been an obvious rise of visitors coming from the neighboring country since the new year started, Chinese-language daily newspaper the Commercial News quoted Tourism Ministry officials as saying.

In January, the kingdom received 22,875 visitors from Vietnam and 22,524 from South Korea.

The rise of Vietnamese tourists could be attributed to the traditional friendship, the convenience of communication and the policy of mutual exemption of visa between the two neighboring countries, they said.

Meanwhile, the number of South Korean tourists fell by some 30 percent in the past months of 2009 over the same period last year, a direct reflection of the deep percussion of the global financial crisis in the country, they added. Continue Reading

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Philippine President to lead groundbreaking of US$ 70-M island resort in Dinaran Island Coron, Palawan

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to lead the groundbreaking ceremony of the US$ 70-million island resort project scheduled on March 25 in Dinaran Island, Coron in northern Palawan.

This was disclosed by Victoria Mendoza, Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Palawan manager.

Board Member and Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL)-Palawan president Jim Gerald Pe, who hails from Coron, also confirmed President Arroyo’s attendance in the groundbreaking of the island resort by the Singaporean firm Banyan Tree Holdings Limited (Banyan Tree) on the said date.

Banyan Tree Group is a leading Singaporean developer, designer and operator of top tier resorts, hotels and spas worldwide.

The group plans to develop two resorts on the island, each of which will retain a secluded and intimate ambiance due to the island’s size and terrain with a total development cost of around 70 million US dollars.

The entire project is targeted for completion in 2010. Continue Reading

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Get Fit And Fabulous This Summer With Sanctuary Spa Holidays

Dark days, cold weather and winter sloth can all take their toll on even the most committed beauty and fitness regimes, which is why Sanctuary Spa Holidays offers tailor-made fitness and spa packages to help boost motivation and blitz the body to ensure that everyone has the best possible chance of feeling fabulous this summer. Packages include:

Spring Clean At LaSource In Grenada

Set in forty acres of tropical grounds next to the beautiful Pink Gin Beach on Grenada’s south west coast, LaSource offers a luxury spa centre with one complimentary treatment each day, plenty of activities and sports facilities and great dining. The award-winning Oasis spa offers a personalized schedule of treatments issued including wraps, massages and facials. In addition, the resort offers a range of holistic activities including yoga, t’ai chi and meditation.

Sanctuary Spa Holidays is offering seven nights on an all-inclusive basis at LaSource in Grenada from £1,499 per person. Valid for departures from 1 May to 30 June, the price includes flights from London Gatwick with Monarch, a selection of complimentary spa treatments, all taxes, surcharges and resort transfers. Continue Reading

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Singapore’s Merlion at Merlion Park started spouting water again

Singapore’s Merlion Re-Opens today around noon. It had been closed for repair work since 28 February to rectify damage on the external façade of the Merlion caused by a lightning strike.

The repair work will however continue on the wave form until the end of March.

The Merlion was first built as an eight-metre tall sculpture in 1972 and located at the mouth of the Singapore River to “welcome all visitors to Singapore”.

Commissioned for approximately Sin$165,000 in 1971 by the Singapore Tourism Board (then known as the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board), it was built by Mr Lim Nang Seng, a local craftsman who had won several prizes in the Singapore Handicraft and Design competition. The Merlion was formally installed on 15 September 1972 by the then Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. On 15 September 2002, the Merlion was moved to its current location at Merlion Park next to One Fullerton, and now overlooks the scenic Marina Bay. It has become one of the most famous icons of this vibrant city-state. Continue Reading

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Padang in West Sumatra boosts tourism with its new Sikuai “honeymoon” island

The scenery of Padang, capital of West Sumatra province, tens of years ago with its Gunung (mount) Padang relating to the legend “Malin Kundang”, but now the condition had drastically changed with more places of tourist interests.

In brief, the Legend of “Malin Kundang” was about an only son (Malin Kundang) coming from a small and poor family lived with his mother in a village not so far from Padang, was actually a very loyal son to his beloved mother as a single parent.

After growing up, however, Malin Kundang went to Padang, to continue his study and several years later he became a rich skipper of a ship, while his poor mother still lived in the village.

After learning that her successful son had returned by a ship which cast anchor at the local seaport, the poor mother in ragged cloths went to the town to meet her son she had not met for a long time. Continue Reading

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La Serena Spa to Open at The Reefs Reefs in Bermuda

The Reefs, widely recognized as Bermuda’s best hotel, announces that Nicolay Kreidler and Vision Design have teamed up to re-create La Serena Spa to open in June. With the latest approach to relaxation, and a design to match, La Serena Spa delivers on its namesake promise.

Spa Expert Nicolay Kreidler of iSpad and Spa College is working his magic to develop a program for La Serena at The Reefs that incorporates the spa experience as an integral aspect of the vacation, similar to how guests view dining. He emphasizes that the spa should be enjoyed not just once but throughout the stay, enhancing the travel experience, maximizing the results of a vacation or business trip and augmenting health, wellness and beauty.

“We are thrilled to have the expertise of Nicolay Kreidler shaping our approach with the new La Serena Spa,” says Managing Director of The Reefs, Ben Tutt. “Mr. Kreidler’s knowledge of mind-body wellness is superior and he understands the intricacies involved in spa dynamics.”

As the new spa menu unfolds, La Serena will include eco-centric treatments using natural indigenous ingredients tapping into the abundant island flora. Kreidler is coaching the on-site spa professionals, all of whom enjoy a dedicated following, to enhance their individual approaches to meet each guest’s needs. “A Manhattanite requires a different approach from a Bermudian or a Brit,” says Kreidler. “At La Serena, we will have a tailored approach to match the style and needs of each of our guests individually.”

As the seasons change, so will the spa options, to complement the weather as well as culturally what’s happening on the island. Committed to sustainability, Kreidler elaborates that plans for La Serena will include using products in a way to minimize the impact on the environment. In sum, Kreidler offers a multi-layered process to ensure the ultimate in healing and renewal for each individual in the context of the environment — culturally, climatically and environmentally. Continue Reading

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Philippine Airlines increases international flights

Philippine Airlines is increasing flights to Canada, the United States and on key domestic routes despite a global crisis that is expected to dampen tourist traffic worldwide.

The flag carrier was quoted by as saying that its service to Vancouver, currently five times a week, will become a daily flight starting on March 23 to address the needs of a “sizeable Filipino migrant community in Canada” and to cater for the business and leisure segments of the market.

The airline said it would also add a flight a week to both Los Angeles and San Francisco over the summer, taking weekly services to 10 and eight respectively for those cities.

PAL suffered a net loss of 176 million USD in the first half of the current fiscal year to March 2009 due to a surge in fuel prices, said the news network.

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