HinesSight 20/20: Curated Travel and Hotel News for People who like to Travel (Volume 1)

I've said I've wanted to do these types of travel news posts for a long time, but with kids and life's craziness, the timing was never right or so I said.  I have a new working schedule this year, and I'm committed to being the best travel journalist I can be from my desktop. My personal travels are very curated due to my kid's schedules so I'm in Raleigh a lot. Despite my not traveling, I still get a lot of travel news.

I get about 100 press releases a day promoting travel-related topics. I glance at every single one, but I read the ones that interest me.  I usually save them then I forget about them and the post never develops.

Y'all, I had three thousand emails in my inbox until two days ago.  For these monthly posts,  I'll pick out up to 20 travel stories or news that peaked my interest in the month. You'll start seeing travel news that will help you plan future travels. Like in this post, we talk about Christmas and 2018.  This is a very curated segment of news from my perspective so it is unique to my own blog because it appealed to me. Who knows. I may have weird taste. Some may think what I pick to feature is just plain odd because you will find a lot of hotel news here.  I am choosing up 20 news snippets to highlight because isn't hindsight, twenty-twenty? Eventually, I needed to do something to play on those words and my last name.

Travel News for Volume One: September 22, 2017 

1. JW Marriott partnered with The Joffrey Ballet to produce "Behind the Barre" a series of workout videos available on demand for travelers staying in the brand's guestrooms around the world.  It's now available at the JW Marriott Essex House and will roll out across select JW Marriott hotels this fall. The series features customized barre class videos that can be tailored to any fitness level, inspired by three key wellness states – calm, balance and invigorate.  I don't have a list of the hotels that will have this perk, but it's good news for people who like barre exercise. 

The new Norwegian Bliss will sail to Alaska
Photo from Norwegian. The new Norwegian Bliss will sail to Alaska

2.  Norwegian Cruise Line will have a new ship to set sail in June 2018. This will be its sixteenth ship and will travel to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June 2018. The ship, which will be christened as the Norwegian Bliss will boast many firsts at sea for the global market including a two-level electric-car race track and an open-air laser tag course. The ship's exciting new features will join the brand's signature elements of freedom and flexibility that Norwegian is known for across the globe including a myriad of dining options and a vibrant onboard atmosphere fueled by dynamic intimate spaces and a multitude of bars and lounges, award-winning youth programs and more. In its inaugural summer season, it will depart from Seattle for a seven-day cruise to Alaska.  Go to the Norweigan Bliss site for more information.  Inside prices start at around $1,400 per person and ranges up  to $6,000 for the Haven, which is a 1300 square-feet butler suite. 

3.. Put this excursion on your calendar for the Williamsburg area for summer 2018. A  jet ski excursion in Williamsburg, Virginia, takes you on a thrilling 28-mile tour of the James River to Jamestown Island, James Fort and one of the only ghost fleets left in the U.S.  Kingsmill Resort, the only AAA Four Diamond Condominium Resort in Williamsburg,  offers a 90-minute jet ski excursions that will take you back in time. While cruising along the James River at 35mph, go back 410 years to see Jamestown Island the way one of the earliest English settlers saw it in the early 1600s. Discover the recently found James Fort, the first permanent English settlement in the Americas, from an angle only you can get to from the water and see the historic ships at Jamestown – the Susan Constant, Discovery and, when it’s there, The Godspeed. Excursions run Memorial to Labor Day, dependent on weather, and cost $199 per jet ski for 1-2 people. You must have a valid driver’s license to drive. 

HOlidays in Orlando Theme Parks

4.. Holidays at Orlando's Theme Parks
Orlando celebrates the most magical time of year with balmy weather, special events and spirited live entertainment, creating an unforgettable and festive setting for a winter getaway that trades snow for sunshine.
  • Walt Disney World Resort offers an array of holiday fun (Nov. 9 – Dec. 22), including the transformation of Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party; the Candlelight Processional at Epcot features an exciting line-up of new celebrity narrators including Neil Patrick HarrisPat Sajak, CCH Pounder and Trace Adkins; and a free-entry holiday wonderland at Disney Springs showcases carolers, performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa.
  • Universal Orlando Resort invites guests (Nov. 18 – Jan. 6) to the Macy's Holiday Parade at Universal Studios, where the streets are filled every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy's famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Meanwhile, at Universal's Islands of Adventure, families will light up with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. New to this year, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be transformed with wondrous, holiday spirit.  
  • Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration (Nov. 24 – Dec. 31). In a wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, a glittering sea of lit Christmas trees and beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.
  • LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers families one-of-a-kind photo opportunities with a life-sized LEGO Model Santa Claus and 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree during Christmas Bricktacular, taking place select dates in December.

Great kids programs for  kids at Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
Neat Kids Program in Rome by Waldorf. Photo by Waldorf 

5.  Children can roam in Rome with Waldorf Hotels.  At Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort children can take private gladiator classes where combat instructors from Rome’s Gladiator School come to the hotel to train in the gardens. The training also includes a visit to the Coliseum, where kids can gain their first-tier qualification, ‘Tiro’. Additionally, the property houses its IT Club, the ideal place to lure kids away from parents to something far more fun. The IT Club team can arrange exclusive experiences for their young guests, both in the hotel or around Rome. With or without parents, the IT Club will take children on trips throughout Rome, such as the myths and heroes tour, pizza making and treasure hunts in Villa Borghese. With three pools and a park, Rome Cavalieri makes up the most family-friendly hotels in Rome. All essentials for children are available in the hotel including mini bathrobes, small hangers, kettles, cribs, night lights, high chairs, strollers, baby wipes and diapers. Get this. The hotel has a Nutella bar and Vespa rides in the kid's club.  Oh, to be a kid again with parents who like nice hotels. Must be nice. 

6..  What a sweet treat.  The  Museum of Ice Cream has opened a third location in San Francisco. It has locations in Los Angeles and New York City already, but NYC is closed for the season. Interactive elements include a magical candy garden, psychedelic rainbow unicorns, a push pop installation, a cherry on top sky, the renowned Sprinkle Pool and new tastings, including an original Museum of Ice Cream flavor. I have to admit this place sounds intriguing.  Tickets are $38 per person and the website is mysterious. 

7.  Slinky® Dog Dash will be among the toy-riffic experiences found in the all-new 11 acre Toy Story Land that opens next summer at Walt Disney World.  It's all part of a multi-year transformation of Disney's Hollywood Studios.  Toy Story Land will invite guests to step into the whimsical world of Pixar Animation Studios' blockbuster films where playtime stretches longer than a Slinky® Dog. Guests will feel like they've shrunk to the size of a toy as they play in Andy's backyard with their favorite Toy Story pals. Inspired by the playful dachshund spinoff of Slinky®, the classic American toy, Slinky® Dog Dash will send riders dipping, dodging and dashing around turns and drops that Andy has created to stretch Slinky® and his coils to the max. 

8. . Seabourn, the ultra-luxury cruise line, will mark 30 years of delivering unparalleled guest experiences in 2018 with a 30th Anniversary Celebration. Seabourn Ovation, will debut in Spring 2018. To kick-off the celebration, the line is offering a 30th Anniversary Event promotion, featuring a range of exceptional savings and value-added enticements. Savings will be available on select voyages departing through March 31, 2019 for bookings made by November 14, 2017.

Dale Chihuly's work to be at Biltmore in December 2018.
©Chihuly Studio

9.  Chihuly at Biltmore, a new exhibition opening in 2018, will feature multi-media artist Dale Chihuly's monumental glass sculptures set throughout areas of Biltmore House, gardens, and grounds. The exhibition runs May 17, 2018, through Oct. 7, 2018.  Chihuly's sculptures will reside in the Winter Garden of Biltmore House, and throughout the estate, including the Italian Garden and Walled Garden. As part of the exhibition, Biltmore will host an evening experience in the gardens that will offer views of the sculptures after dark. Chihuly Nights at Biltmore will take place each Thursday through Sunday night during the exhibition.  I have several travel posts on Asheville, the Biltmore, and my most recent stay at its family-friendly Village hotel 

10.. The Hulk in Fayetteville, N.C. The third annual Fayetteville Comic Con(FCC), will be October 21-22. Planners expect 15,000 people to attend the family-friendly con this year.  In addition to Lou Ferrigno, an actor famous for his role as the Original Hulk and Hercules, the FCC will host veteran comic book artist Pat Broderick. Pat has drawn an impressive list of titles, including Batman, Fury of Firestorm, Green Lantern, Micronauts and more. Learn more on Fayetteville's Visitor Site. 

11. Fall Leaves. Marriott International has mapped 14 locations across the U.S. and Canada which are home to some of nature's most riveting Autumn attractions.  It's neat to see how the states progress with color. You can book any Marriott hotel directly from Marriott with the lowest guaranteed rates right from my blog. 

Fall Foliage Tour Curated by Marriott

13. Calling all tea lovers. You can have your cup of tea and throw some tea into the Boston Harbor, too for the 244th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party on Dec. 16. Taking place at Boston's Old South Meeting House and the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, the 244thBoston Tea Party Anniversary & Annual Reenactment offers the public to experience one of America's most iconic public protests at one of the largest moving historical reenactments in the U.S. More than 100 reenactors tell the story of The Boston Tea Party and theatrically recreate the evening of December 16, 1773 which sparked the American Revolution. It begins with a fiery tea tax debate at Old South Meeting House, the historic hall where the colonists gathered 244 years ago. Then, the public joins a procession led by fife & drummers to the waterfront and witnesses the Sons of Liberty destroy actual loose [expired] tea from London's East India Company!  And get this. you can send tea, too and if you do it by December 1 then you'll get a certificate of participation. 

Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum
Photo from Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum

Send dried loose leaf tea (NO used tea bags) to: Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, ATTN: 'Toss That Tea', 306 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210. Include name, address, e-mail & phone number. An official certificate of participation will be sent to each partaker sending tea. Deadline to send tea: December 1, 2017.

Throughout December, area hotels and restaurants will offer tea-inspired specials and cocktails. It looks like a fun time in Boston, especially when they are serving up one of my favorite beverages. Learn more at https://www.bostonteapartyship.com/

14. Sesame Place®, the nation's only theme park based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street®, announced that its first wooden-steel hybrid coaster - Oscar's Wacky Taxi™ - will debut in  Spring 2018. The new coaster is one of the largest new attractions in the park's 37-year history and will feature a bright yellow, taxi cab-inspired train with everyone's favorite grouch at the helm.

The new coaster, combining both wood and steel elements to create a smooth ride, will give pint-sized thrill-seekers and their families the opportunity to experience another exciting first at Sesame Place. Oscar's Wacky Taxi™ will send riders soaring down an exhilarating first drop of 40 feet, traveling over 1,200 feet of track with exciting twists, turns, and plenty of airtime hills -- sure to delight even the grouchiest of riders. A 40" rider height requirement (with a supervising companion) or 46" height requirement for single riders will make this the perfect first coaster for many park guests.  I think my kids have aged out of Sesame Place, but I know many of you have new generations with your grandchildren. Find hotels in Philadelphia near Sesame Place on my Book your Hotel Tab. 

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Ice Cream is not just for Summer: Andia's Homemade Ice Cream in Cary, N.C. Serves Seasonal Delights Year Round

It may be turning fall, but we eat ice cream year round here in the South.  We just trade in the Jack Rogers and wear boots, instead. Liza and I recently went to the media preview of Andia's Homemade Ice Cream at 10120 Green Level Church Road in West Cary.

Great ice cream at Andia's Homemade Ice Cream

I have just one complaint. This place is not close to my Raleigh home at all and that disappoints me greatly because Andia serves up some of the best sorbet I've ever tasted in my life. It's that good. It's all-natural, mom-approved ingredients.

I've eaten sorbet in some fancy dancy places through my years, and Andia's sorbet ranks at the top of the list. It is worth the drive if you don't live close.

Liza ranked her ice cream and her Blue Raz-Beary Sorbet pretty high, too.  When you have a 5 p.m media preview then ice cream is just dinner. She also got the kids garbage can sundae. This is made with rock candy, gummy worms and cookie and cream ice cream. She chose a pink garbage can.  No doubt, this will be a kid favorite.

Andia, has been in the ice cream catering business in the Triangle, for many years, but this is the family's first retail location. I'm hoping they will do well. It's also reasonably priced and as a parent, I appreciate that. I think these yogurt places that you weigh at the counter....get over the top expensive for what it is. I appreciate the labor of love that went into preparing this ice cream. You will come out cheaper at Andia's than any weighed yogurt place.

I'm already lobbying for a location in downtown Raleigh.

As fall rolls around, you will find flavors with pumpkin and apples.

This seasonal "Blooming Apple" sundae with apples, cinnamon sugar ice cream caramel and walnuts makes me want to take a road trip there now.

Andia located her new shop in a bustling area of Cary that is primarily residential with suburb type shopping and entertainment villages nearby. This part of Cary is very close to the Research Triangle Park so it's quite convenient for those who have business in the park to visit this side of town. Andia's  is just 15 minutes away from the Research Triangle Park. If you want to stay in Cary or Morrisville when visiting my area, find your hotel via my Book Your Hotel tab.

Andia's ice cream can be found in several restaurants and other locations in the Triangle.  Whatever you do, don't visit Andia's on a Monday. You'll be disappointed. It's the only day of the week the retail shop is closed.

Garbage Can Sundae at Andia's Homemade Ice Cream in Cary, NC

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