AAA hands out diamonds to hotels and restaurants

AAA has added 14 restaurants and hotels to its annual list of Five Diamond establishments, the travel authority’s highest honor.

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Top 7 US Family Travel Destinations for 2015

leveland, Pittsburgh and Detroit will feature prominently as families seek a heavy dose of culture, sports and one-of-a-kind experiences for US Family Travel in 2015.

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Disney Creates Savings Fund for Future Vacations

Having trouble saving money for a big vacation? A cartoon mouse and a brainy pig want to help you get it done. If a Disney vacation is on your wish list, you might want to consider the Disney Vacation Account program, which lets guests budget for an upcoming trip and schedule automatic contributions into an FDIC-insured savings fund.

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The best ski resorts in North America

Last year when announcing the top 50 resorts we began by stating the obvious: there are a lot of great ski resorts out there. While that hasn’t changed, our list of the top 50 certainly has—thanks to our readers.

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Four Family Travel Trends for 2015

Family Vacation Critic, TripAdvisor’s family travel site, has announced the top family travel trends to watch in 2015, based on new programs and amenities focused specifically on families.

“A really promising trend we’re seeing, industry-wide, is an increased focus on families throughout the travel experience,” says Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Vacation Critic. “The entire process – from getting there to exploring and immersing yourselves in the destination – is becoming easier for families. Travel brands are building their products around what matters most to families: convenience, options and memorable experiences.”

The top family travel trends for 2015 include:

  • The rise of the family suite. Leading hotel brands, including Club Med and Karisma Hotels & Resorts, are adding multi-room family suites to their accommodation offerings. The trend also extends to cruise lines; Holland America recently announced that it will be adding family suites — sleeping up to five guests — on its new ship, Koningsdam, scheduled to launch in early 2016.
  • More kid-friendly programs for families to enjoy together on cruise ships. Over the last few years, cruise lines have focused even more on upgrading onboard kids’ clubs and activities, and now they are focusing on creating kid-friendly programming for the entire family to experience together. Carnival has launched Dr. Seuss-themed experiences and Princess has introduced new kids’ programming as part of its partnership with the Discovery Channel – including Animal Planet and Science Channel shore excursions.
  • Immersive travel becomes more inclusive of families. Experiential travel doesn’t have to be limited to kid-free travelers, and resorts and outfitters are creating even more opportunities for families looking for immersive travel options. Families can treasure hunt in the Rocky Mountains as part of Destination Hotels & Resorts’ new  “Destination Family Escapes,” explore Inca ruins in Machu Picchu with G Adventures’ new “Teen Adventures,” or take a local cooking class in Ecuador as part of Adventures by Disney’s 2015 itinerary offerings.
  • Transportation providers make ‘getting there’ easier for families. This year, UberFAMILY was introduced – providing car seats in select Uber vehicles, and RyanAir launched its ‘Family Extra’ program with discounted seating for children, in-flight bottle warming and discounted travel insurance for kids. Thomson Airways has also announced plans to introduce ‘family booths,’ seating four to six in a row, as well as in-flight kids’ clubs as early as next summer.

For more information on planning a family vacation, visit www.familyvacationcritic.com.

Virgin Group Announces Plans to Make Waves in the Cruise Industry

Virgin Group, the Branson family-owned branded investment group, today announced the formation of Virgin Cruises, its new cruise line business, as well as the appointment of a CEO and its lead investment partner, Bain Capital. Financial terms of the transaction are not being disclosed.

Proven industry leader Tom McAlpin will join Virgin Cruises as CEO and will head the management team. Most recently, Tom has been President and CEO of The World, Residences at Sea. Tom also served as President of Disney Cruise Line having joined as part of the founding management team.

Virgin Cruises will be headquartered in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and plans to design and construct two new world class cruise ships. At this time, the company has not disclosed when it will start operating for competitive reasons. As part of one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, Virgin Cruises will offer guests an outstanding experience and service aimed at broadening consumer targets for the cruise market.

Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson said, “We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. They’ll be sailing on the latest ships offering great quality, a real sense of fun, and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service.”

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Cascade Mountain Open Again this Weekend, Open Daily Starting November 28th

Cascade Mountain has been able to make snow around the clock and are off to a strong start this season. They opened last weekend with some terrain park features at Tube Town and they will do that again this weekend. They’ll have two lines of features at Tube Town this weekend, and we will have at least 10 trails open for skiing and riding. There will be no tubing this weekend, but rental equipment and lessons will be available.
They will continue with “Bonus Days” this weekend, meaning any current Cascade season pass will get you on the slopes both days.
Hours: 9am to 4:30 pm Saturday and Sunday (November 22&23)
Cost: $25 for a lift ticket. Kids 12 & under ski free with a paid adult.
         Rental rates: Night prices
Regular Season Opening on Friday, November 28th 
They will be open daily with regular hours and services (including snow tubing) starting the day after Thanksgiving. Check out the webcams to see how things are looking!

The Top 10 Airports to Avoid This Thanksgiving

Traveling during the holidays is a headache, especially if you’re flying through one of these airports.

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