Not overthinking Disneyland

On the road to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (COURTESY PHOTO)

On the road to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Not overthinking Disneyland
BY KATHLEEN JAY

Around 8 a.m. on Thursday, my family decided to go to Disneyland for the weekend. Yeah, let’s go. Sure, it’s 400 miles away; we have no plane tickets, no hotel room, no park tickets — but we’ll just make it work.

So after pancakes, getting my daughter to school, my husband downtown, and me to work — we started planning.

The Happiest Place on Earth doesn’t have to break the bank

Finding a hotel was one factor that didn’t play in our favor — not a surprise, since it is a three-day weekend.

We love staying in the Disneyland Resort, but all three hotels were sold out. The Grand Calfornia Hotel and Spa, Disneyland Hotel, and Disneyland’s Paradise Pier Hotel are so desirable because they offer so much ease. The rooms at all three are basic — but the convenience to Downtown Disney District, Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park is so worth it. Not to mention great pools. But it’s not worth it if it is going to break the bank.

Disneyland gets this, and for this reason, has partnered with what they call Good Neighbor Hotels, which offer lower room rates and shuttle service between the park and the hotels.

For example, the Sheraton Anaheim Hotel — a 489-room hotel located a half mile from the resort entrance — averaged $165 per night. In contrast, Disneyland’s Paradise Pier — only available Sunday night — was around $315; the recently-renovated Disneyland Hotel was about $450 per night; and my personal favorite, the Grand California was around $485 per night. Sure, this is a holiday weekend and prices are inflated. During non-holiday weekends, rooms at the resort hotels run from the low 200s (Paradise Pier) to the low 300s (Grand California).

To put this all in perspective, I also priced out rooms at Harvey’s in South Lake Tahoe — which at last has snow! — and room rates were $459 per night (Rooms here are normally in the low $100s.).

So we booked the Sheraton Anaheim, which required us to pre-pay for two nights. Hotel, done.

No high-five for the I-5

To get there, we had to drive. There was no other choice. Round-trip air between San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX) — without any advance purchase — was $659 per person on all major airlines. Southwest offered round-trip service between SFO and Santa Ana/John Wayne Airtport (SNA) in nearby Orange County for $430, but no flights were available for Friday departure; JetBlue offered round-trip service between SFO and Long Beach for $639.

Hence, we rented a fuel-effecient car from Hertz. I know many of you have a new, fuel-efficient car (good for you!); but as city folk, renting made the most sense savings-wise. Note: Most car insurance companies offer their member discounts; if not, visit the Hertz page on Retailmenot to find a discount code.

Right now, we are about 75 miles away from destination Mickey Mouse. Sure, the I-5 is the most boring interstate in the world — but it is the fastest way to Anaheim from the Bay Area. On the way back, we plan to do an all-day crawl up scenic 101– a couple of hours longer, but well worth it, especially if it is sunny.

Hoppers, what? how much?

We decided on dual-park, two-day hoppers; in translation, we decided to get a two-day resort ticket that would grant us access into both parks, which are open this weekend from 9 a.m. to midnight. The weekend also includes fireworks!

Even though a hopper costs about $30 more than a single-park ticket — it’s well worth it for a bigreason: Fastpass. With a dual-park ticket (“hopper”) you can simultaneously hold FastPasses for each of the parks during the same time windows. Not many ticket holders realize this — but it can be a real time-saver, especially during busy holiday weekends.

For park ticket discounts, check AAA, Costco and professional associations for nominal discounts. Don’t waste time searching for a discount code online — Disney never does this because they don’t need to.

Autograph, please?

If you have been to Disneyland or any Disney property, chances are you have autograph book — don’t forget it when you pack! As well as sunscreen, a re-usable water bottle, your camera — and your camera battery charger and make sure your camera’s memory card is in your camera.

To be continued …

 

 

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I left my heart, I mean my pumpkin, in Half Moon Bay

HMB

Pumpkin season returns to Half Moon Bay, Calif. this month with the 43rd annual Pumpkin and Art Festival set for the weekend of Oct. 19-20, 2013. In this file photo, a kid goes pumpkin picking at Lemos Farm in Half Moon Bay. (Photo: Kathleen Jay)

I left my heart, I mean my pumpkin, in Half Moon Bay

Dreamy coastal town prepares for 43rd annual pumpkin festival

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Pie-eating contests are among one of the many events at the annual Half Moon Bay Arts and Pumpkin Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

Pie-eating contests are among one of the many events at the annual Half Moon Bay Arts and Pumpkin Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

Every year, Half Moon Bay — a completely dreamy coastal town located about 25 miles south of San Francisco — becomes more and more popular each year — in much part due to its annual pumpkin festival.

This year — or should I say this month! — the festival is set for the weekend of Oct. 19 and 20. But really, the entire month of October is all-orange in Half Moon Bay — and in my humble opinion, the best time to enjoy it is when it’s not the festival  — unless you are staying the night — then definitely go for the festival!

Highlights of this year’s festival include:

In two weeks, superstar gourd-growing greats and their hard-to-believe, gasp-inspiring, titanic orange orbs will gather for the 43rd Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off . The grand champion mega-gourd will be on display at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on October 19-20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Main Street in Half Moon Bay, Callif. Pictured here is the 2011 winner, Leonardo Urena of Napa, Calif., with his winning 1,704-pound pumpkin. (COURTESY PHOTO)

In two weeks, superstar gourd-growing greats and their hard-to-believe, gasp-inspiring, titanic orange orbs will gather for the 43rd Annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off .  (COURTESY PHOTO)

>>  The 40th annual Safeway World Championship Weigh-Off  on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013 at 7 a.m. on the IDES Grounds, located on 735 Main Street in Half Moon Bay. Event organizers are offering $25,000 in prize money for a new world record entered at Half Moon Bay. The current world record is 2009-pounds –– the monster pumpkin was grown by Ron Wallace in 2012. The grand champion mega-gourd, along with the top five weigh-off pumpkins, will be displayed at the pumpkin festival when it kicks off Oct. 19.

>> The 43rd annual  Art & Pumpkin Festival will be held on Main Street on Oct. 19-20, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. This year, the festival will feature live entertainment on three stages , and six-time Gold Glove winner and San Francisco Giants  favorite J.T. Snow will serve as this year’s grand marshal.

  • Performing on the IDES Main Stage are The California Cowboys, Big Cat Tolefree, The Robin Campbell Band, Pamela Rose & Her B-3 Party, Extra Large, Caravanserai, The Stan Erhart Band and Jim Stevens & Friends.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Gazebo Stage will feature Wendy DeWitt, Claddagh, South City Blues Band and Rockin’ Down the Hiway.
  • The Family Stage features sensational talent from Radio Disney and “Smashing Pumpkins: Battle of the Bands.
  • Street performers will include Glitterface, HeartStrings Music, Emerson, and Bob Culbertson.

>> For the pumpkin shopper enthusiast, the festival will offer visitors the chance to check out  275 booths featuring original work in glass, ceramics, metals, fiber, leather, wood, jewelry, and fine art.

  • “Made on the Coast,” a dedicated Locals’ Artists Block, returns with an expanded lineup of fine art, crafts, live music, a book and author booth, and a haiku contest (on Sunday only).
  • New this year, artist Peter Hazel’s mosaic pumpkin sculpture — measuring 12-feet long, 11-feet high  and weighing 10,000 pounds — will be on display.

>> Also new this year, thrill-seekers can  visit the Comcast Take 5 Lounge, at which a new zip-line will be installed.

Farmer Mike takes center stage in pumpkin carving at the annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

Farmer Mike takes center stage in pumpkin carving at the annual Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival. (Courtesy Photo)

>> Other popular events will include a  pumpkin pie-eating contest, a Halloween costume contest, pumpkin carving for fun,  a Young Actors Workshop’s bone-chilling haunted house, a Great Pumpkin Parade (on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at noon), a pancake breakfast, and a 5k & 10k Pumpkin Run.

For more on the festival, visit www.miramarevents.com.

 

 Outside the festival, but still in Half Moon Bay

The only thing I don’t love about the festival is the traffic.  Whether you are driving up or down Highway 1, or getting to Half Moon Bay via Highway 280/92 — there is so much traffic for pumpkin festival weekend — you’ll wish you (a) never went and (b) you booked a room for Friday and Saturday nights of the festival.

With that said, there are several other great reasons — from visiting pumpkin patches to taking a pumpkin-inspired cooking class — to visit Half Moon Bay this month.

FALL EVENTS

>> Fourth annual hand-blown art glass pumpkin patch

When:  Oct. 11-14, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Why go:  Half Moon Bay Art Glass will transform the grounds of La Nebbia Winery into a glistening glass pumpkin patch that features the work of artist and glass blower Douglass C. Brown. This artistic installation will feature more than 1,000 one-of-a-kind glass pumpkins available for purchase, each one personally handcrafted by Brown, who works year round to create this spectacular display. Info:  www.hmbartglass.com

>> 11th annual haunted hostel Halloween

When: Oct. 26, 2013

Why go: Spend the evening with ghosts, goblins and ghouls — as well as games, crafts and live entertainment — when Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel hosts the 11th annual haunted hostel Halloween. Info:  Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, 16th Street & Highway 1, Montara, (650) 728-7177.

>> Farmer John Celebrates Pumpkin Season

When:  Currently open; Monday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Why go:  Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm, a family-owned and operated specialty farm that grows more than 60 varieties of pumpkins and squash, is open to the public during the fall. Guests can also visit an authentic Native American Teepee as well as taking a ride on a vintage tractor. Info:  850 North Cabrillo Highway, (650) 726-4980, www.farmerjohnspumpkins.com.

WHERE TO STAY

>> Half Moon Bay Lodge, a Spanish-style hotel, which just recently completed a $1.5 million renovation totaling $1.5 million, offers 80 rooms — each with a deck or terrace overlooking the Arnold Palmer-designed Half Moon Bay Golf Links. Info:  2400 Cabrillo Highway South, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, (650) 726-9000, www.halfmoonbaylodge.com.

>> For the fourth year in a row, Mill Rose Inn has been voted No. 1 bed and breakfast in Half Moon Bay according to Trip Advisor. This boutique inn is known by its lush gardens, comfortable rooms and suites and home-cooked breakfast. Info:  615 Mill Street, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, (650) 726-8750, www.millroseinn.com.

>>  A remodeled Seal Cove Inn — set amongst a meadow of wildflowers and bordered by cypress trees — include updates, such as new landscaping, new hardwood floors, newly painted walls and a face-lift for its fireplace; guest rooms also feature new bedding — as well as the inn’s signature line of bath products with lavender, cypress and eucalyptus scents.  Info:  221 Cypress Avenue, Moss Beach, (800) 995-9987, www.sealcoveinn.com.

>> Through Dec. 15, 2013, the Beach House Hotel  — a  New England-style boutique hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Pillar Point — is offering a mid-week “Coastal Romance Package” which includes a junior suite overlooking Pillar Point Harbor, a complimentary bottle of champagne, and late check out at 2 p.m. on departure day. Info:  4100 N. Cabrillo Highway, (650) 712-0220, www.beach-house.com.

FOODIE REASONS TO VISIT

>> Harley Farms is opening their Victorian hayloft for private autumn and holiday farm dinners. This popular venue boasts locally-sourced candlelit dinners, which include five courses of farm-cooked, local food and an interactive tour of the farm for up to 22 guests. Info:  205 North Street, Pescadero, (650) 879-0480, www.harleyfarms.com.

>> For those craving fish and chips in Half Moon Bay, Fish ‘n’ Frites — a new restaurant in Zaballa Square featuring fresh catch from the area– has recently opened. Info: 328 Main St., Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, (650) 712-1520.

>> Half Moon Bay Brewing Company will host its first-ever Harvest Dinner on Nov. 12. Emphasizing local specialties, such as goat cheese from Harley Farms, Dungeness crab, pumpkins and Markegard meats, the restaurant will pair each course with a seasonal home-brewed beer. Info:  390 Capistrano Rd. Half Moon Bay, CA 94019, (650) 728-2739, www.hmbbrewingco.com.

>> Every Saturday in October, the culinary team at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay will present a seasonal cooking class that highlights creative ways to incorporate pumpkin into a menu. Each class includes a culinary demonstration and a three-course pumpkin lunch at the Chef’s Table at the newly renovated Navio. Cooking classes are available Saturday, October 5, 12, 19 and 26 and are $75 per person. Info:  One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, CA, 94019, (650) 712-7000, www.ritzcarlton.com/hmb.

>> Can’t make it down to Half Moon Bay?  Not a problem. The highly-anticipated online marketplace for fresh, small-farm produce, meat and cheese known as Pescadero Grown Webstand recently launched on GoodEggs.com. Foodies can now sign up to receive a monthly box of freshly prepared farm food from seven Pescadero-based producers — such as Harley Farms –  delivered directly to their doorstep, or to a pick-up point nearby. Info:  www.pescaderogrown.org.

>>  Every Friday through Sunday from 4 – 6 p.m., the ENO Tasting Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay will continue its Vintner Series, during which a wine educator from one of the featured wineries to present and educate guests about the latest wines in its portfolio. The tasting fee ranges from $25 to $35 per person, based upon the vintner.  While you’re there, visit the hotel’s spa, which will offers its popular 90-minute Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Facial that utilizes a pumpkin enzyme mask. Info:  One Miramontes Point Road, Half Moon Bay, CA, 94019, (650) 712-7000, www.ritzcarlton.com/hmb

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Northstar-Tahoe resort to open slope-side eatery this winter

Skiers and riders at Northstar California can enjoy a new mid-mountain, outdoor eatery featuring barbeque at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe resort. Above is a rendering of the new eatery.(Courtesy Image)

Skiers and riders at Northstar California can enjoy a new mid-mountain, outdoor eatery featuring barbeque at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe resort. Above is a rendering of the new eatery.(Courtesy Image)

Northstar-Tahoe resort to open slope-side eatery this winter

Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe to open Backyard Bar & BBQ in time for ski season

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Today, construction for a new on-mountain, outside eatery began at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, located on Lake Tahoe’s north shore at the Northstar California ski resort.

Located on the back patio of the luxury hotel-spa-and ski resort, the new Backyard Bar & BBQ will offer visitors a new year-round casual dining experience with ski-in/ski-out outdoor dining in the winter and poolside convenience — and summer cookouts! –during the summer.

Note:  the Ritz-Carlton is all accessible to non-skiing visitors via a designated lift that anyone can take from the ski village at the base of the mountain.

The restaurant will feature a menu offering traditional barbeque offerings, such as St. Louis-style smoked ribs, brisket and pulled pork platters. Menu items will be cooked with an on-site smoker and will be offered with a selection of house-made BBQ sauces. Other menu items will include wood-fired oven baked pizzas,  burgers, bratwurst, home-style side dishes and desserts.

A seasonal beverage program with saloon-inspired cocktails and local craft beer selections will also be offered.

Designed by Lake Tahoe-based Ward-Young Architecture & Planning, the new eatery is scheduled to open mid-December.

For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/LakeTahoe.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

Posted in Calif., Northstar California, Restaurants, Ritz-Carlton, U.S. Domestic travel | Leave a comment

Ten really fun things to do with kids under 10 in New York City

Central Park in New York City is a great place to spend the day with kids -- young and old -- when visiting the Big Apple. (FILE PHOTO)

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park in New York City is a great place to begin the day with kids — young and old — when visiting the Big Apple. (FILE PHOTO)

Ten really fun things to do in NYC with kids under 10

BY KATHLEEN JAY

New York City is filled with parks and lots of fun things for even the youngest kids to enjoy.  Pictured here is Tecumseh Playground, located at 77th Street and the corner of Amsterdam Avenue on Manhattan's Upper West Side neighborhood. (Photo: KATHLEEN JAY)

New York City is filled with parks and lots of fun things for even the youngest kids to enjoy. Pictured here is Tecumseh Playground, located at 77th Street and the corner of Amsterdam Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood. (Photo: KATHLEEN JAY)

Unlike adults, kids under 10 years old really don’t enjoy the typical New York City experience that their parents do — ambling through beautiful neighborhoods, enjoying the diversity of New York’s restaurant scene and spending hours oohing and ahhing through galleries at fine art museums.  Honestly, kids really don’t. You can get away with some of the above with a non-walking  baby, but even a baby can’t sit still too long at a restaurant.

Walking — unless kids are walking to a destination, such as FAO Schwartz or the subway station that will take them to a Yankees game — can also be challenging. Kids love to run around and play endlessly on a playground — but the act of walking for walking’s sake isn’t on the top of most kids’ favorites list.

No worries. Every kid I know who has been to New York City — loves it. At least mine does. Below is a list of places and things to do — that make for great fun when visiting the Big Apple with kids.

1. Riding the subway 

SubwayThere is always a bit of a thrill riding the New York City subway — the hustle, the bustle, the street musicians — and let’s face it, it’s also the fastest, least-expensive way to get around the city.

Certain stations are stand-outs, such as Grand Central Terminal – located at 89 East 42nd Street and is accessible  4, 5, 6, 7, and S Subway Lines; this historic station — which just celebrated its 100th birthday this year — has 68 shops, 35 eateries and an impressive market — on par with the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace.

As far as train lines, my favorite is the 1, 2 or 3 line, which can take you from the Upper West Side to SoHo.

The fare for a subway — or local bus ride — is $2.50. Up to three children 44 inches tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare-paying adult. Infants (under two years of age) ride express buses free if the child sits on the lap of the accompanying adult.

2. An afternoon at the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo

CMAThe Children’s Museum of the Arts is a hands-on art museum dedicated to engaging young artists ages 10 months to 15 years old. Hosting open workshops lead by a staff of teaching artists, this wonderful museum features a 2,000-square-foot gallery, a media lab and sound booth for budding D.J.s and sound-mixers, a clay bar for young sculptors, a fine art studio — and every little kid’s favorite room — the lofted ball pond (pictured, at left) – a playroom filled to its capacity in yoga-exercise balls for climbing. In addition, the museum offers a quiet room for down time; for the youngest artists, there is a WEE Arts Studio for kids ages one-to-five years old.

Note:  On most Saturdays, the museum holds two-hour drop-off workshops for kids ages eight-to-15 years old.

To get there, take the 1 train downtown to Houston Street. Walk south on Varick Street, turn right on Charlton Street and you’re there. The museum is open daily, but closed on Tuesdays. Admission — for both kids and adults — is $11; infants under one-year old, seniors and members are free. The museum also offers pay-as-you wish hours every Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

3. Going to a drop-in class Chelsea Piers

ChelseaPiersLocated at 23rd Street and the West Side Highway, Chelsea Piers – a spacious sports complex featuring a field house, golf simulator and driving range, a year-round ice-skating rink, and a bowling alley — offers drop-in, recreational classes for kids all year long. Drop-in activities include gymnastics, trampoline, foam pit, rock climbing, dance, soccer and basketball.

A favorite class is called Rock-N-Roll — geared for five-to-16 year old kids — which features 45 minutes of rock climbing and 45 minutes of gymnastics. The 90-minute class is $30 per participant.

4. Visiting Central Park Zoo

CPZ1The 6.5-acre Central Park Zoo is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours as you explore Central Park. Open 365 days a year, the zoo — popularized by the “Madagascar” film series — has two sections — a Main Zoo and the Tisch Children’s Zoo. One ticket is valid  for admission to both areas. Snow leopards, red pandas, sea lions and penguins make this a very fun place to explore.  Admission prices are $18 for adults and $13 for kids; book online and save 10-percent off your tickets.

Alas, in case you didn’t read about this last week, the zoo recently lost one of its most-beloved inhabitants — Gus, the polar bear.

5. Going to a show

There are several shows both on Broadway and Off-Broadway that are kid-friendly. Current shows include: “The Lion King” at Minskoff Theatre, “Wicked” at the Gershwin Theatre, “Newsies” at the Nederlander Theatre, “Stomp” at the Orpheum Theatre, “Peter and the Starcatcher” at New World Stages, “Annie” at the Palace Theatre (Note:  “Annie” is set to close in Jan. 5, 2014), “Blue Man Group” at the Astor Place Theatre, “The Fantasticks” at the Snapple Theater Center/Jerry Orbach Theater, “Gazillion Bubble Show” at New World Stages, “The Berenstain Bears Live!” at Manhattan Movement and Arts Center, and “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” at St. Luke’s Theatre. A couple of things to note:  most shows run more than two hours — so really little kids may not have the patience to sit through it; also, tickets are expensive — but keep in mind, going to a Broadway show is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

AnnieOct. 1 , 2013 update:  Leapin’ Lizards, kids go free to “Annie!” For evening performances through Oct. 31, 2013 ticket buyers will receive one free ticket for a child, with the purchase of any adult regular-priced ticket; note:  there is additional fine print. Kids Go Free tickets to “Annie”  may be purchased online through TicketMaster.com or visiting the Palace Theatre box office (Broadway at 47th Street) and using the code: GPFAM. The show’s final performance is scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014.

BigAppleCircusAnother popular choice is the Big Apple Circus, which is set to return to Lincoln Center with the performance of news show, “LUMINOCITY.” Performances are set to run from Oct. 25, 2013  to Jan. 12, 2014, and tickets are $25.

Lastly, if you’re planning to be in New York City during the holidays, don’t miss the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall — and ice skating across the street at Rockefeller Center. This year, the show will run Nov. 8 to Dec. 30, 2013

6. Walking around Times Square area right after sunset (and visiting a toy store)

TimeSquareAs overwhelming as Times Square can be, kids love the over-the-top display of lights, billboards, and toy stores.

Inside the 110,000-square-foot Toys R Us store, kids can ride a Ferris wheel, check out a life-size T-Rex model, and walk through Barbie’s  “dream house.” At the Disney Store (disneystore.com) located at 1514 Broadway at 44th Street, kids can interact with a life-size interactive Disney princess castle or relax in children’s theater, which screens a constant flow of movies and shorts (And in the city that never sleeps, the Disney Store in Times Square is open daily until midnight.).

7. Ordering room service

roomserviceThere is not a single kid I have ever met who doesn’t enjoy the thrill of ordering room service — or at the very least, delivery.

Below is a list my favorite kid-friendly hotels:

 

>> NYLO New York (Upper West Side)

NYLONYLocated on the Upper West Side at 77th Street and Broadway, we love NYLO New York because its 285 rooms all got recently renovated, and its loft-style suites are amazing (Located on the top three floors, the deluxe rooms and suites even have their own private balconies.). For all guests, there is a terrace on the 14th and 16th floors, at which the hotel holds a complimentary happy hour.  In terms of room service, the hotel is serviced by two restaurants– Serafina, which features northern Italian cuisine and great pizza, and RedFarm, a new restaurant that brings a green market sensibility to modern Chinese food and dim sum. The hotel also offers guests a special rate of $5 for admission to the nearby Children’s Museum of Manhattan – a saving of more than 50 percent off regular ticket prices.

Also, for other take-out options, NYLO New York is nearby two of my favorite markets:  Fairway, located at 2127 Broadway at 74th Street, and Zabar’s, located at 2245 Broadway at 80th Street.

>> Yotel New York City (Times Square)

YotelLocated near Times Square, the hotel offers “cabins” — some which have an upper bunk for a kid. The hotel offers room service as well as a an a la carte breakfast menu and all-day dining menu. It’s restaurant Dojo also offers guests complimentary tea, coffee and muffins from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on weekdays and until 10:30 a.m. on weekends.

>> Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Ave (Chelsea)

HolidayInnManhattan6thAveLocated in the trendy Chelsea neighborhood, the Holiday Inn Manhattan 6th Ave also offers great value and comfort. The hotel — which went through a complete renovation a couple of years ago — is located just  a few blocks from Eataly –Mario Batali’s giant Italian food market, a foodie destination even for kids! — which has seven sit-down restaurants with table and bar seats. The eateries — positioned next to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients — include Le Verdure (produce), La Piazza (fresh mozzarella), Il Pesce (fish), La Pizza & Pasta (bakery), Manzo (butcher) Pranzo (cooking school) and Birreria (rooftop restaurant and brewery).

>> GEMSoho (Soho/Lower East Side)

Gem_SohoIf downtown is your choice, I really like the GEMSoho, located on the Lower East Side one block away from Katz’s Delicatessen.  This boutique hotel has very comfortable rooms, a cheerful staff — and is in easy walking distant to the Village, Nolita, Chinatown, Little Italy and Canal Street.  And if you are staying in the Village, go to my favorite, family-friendly, Italian restaurant: Ill Corallo Tratoria at 176 Prince Street, between Thompson and Sullivan Streets. It has the best Italian restaurant in the city — for both food and price — and is known for its home-made pasta.

>> New York Palace Hotel (Midtown)

New-York-Palace-HotelFor shopping on Fifth Avenue (F.A.O Schwartz, American Girl; see below), I also like the New York Palace Hotel — located behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 455 Madison Avenue. The most beautiful time of the year to stay here is during the holidays — when the museum is festively-decorated.

 

>> Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park (Battery Park)

Ritz_BatteryParkLast, but certainly not least, the Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park is a wonderful, family-friendly hotel — and offers the best room service on this entire list.  For such luxury, the hotel offers outstanding value. The hotel — which serves the Wall Street community — offers some of its best rates on the weekends (Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights); it is also in close proximity to several interesting  attractions, such as the ferry to the Statue of Liberty, Skyscraper Museum, Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, Wall Street, the 9/11 Memorial, the New York City Fire Museum, the Tribute WTC Visitor Center and SoHo.

8. Riding the ferry to the Statue of Liberty

StatueOfLibertyThe Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, designated as a National Monument in 1924 and restored for her centennial on July 4, 1986.

Following Hurricane Sandy, Liberty Island was closed to repair storm damage; Liberty Island has since reopened — including the Statue (Ellis Island remains closed).

To get there, visitors can purchase ferry ticket through Statue Cruises, with limited tickets to the pedestal and crown. From New York City, ferries depart from Battery Park, at the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

I highly recommend buying advanced tickets — otherwise you will either be forced to wait in a very long line, or the ferry will be sold-out — particularly on the weekends.  If you book a “reserve with crown” ticket, you’ll have access to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty, priority entry into the boarding queue, which saves wait time at the departure point, access to the grounds of Liberty Island, and an audio tour of Liberty Island. Tickets are $20 for adults, $12 for kids two-to 12-years old.

Lastly, take note of the security process for visiting Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty:

  • Visitors to the Park are required to submit to airport style security screening before boarding vessels departing from Battery Park and Liberty State Park. Visitors to the Monument undergo additional security screening.
  • All persons and property are subject to search on Liberty Island. All items considered inappropriate or prohibited will be confiscated and retained by the United States Park Police. >> Large bags are not allowed on Liberty Island.
  • There are no locker facilities at the New York and New Jersey embarkation points
  • Backpacks, strollers and large umbrellas are not permitted in the Monument
  • Food (even unopened) and drinks (including water) are not allowed inside the Statue of Liberty
  • All weapons are prohibited, including: Firearms, explosives or flammables, knives or sharp objects (including tools), pepper spray and mace

9. Visiting either American Girl Place New York City and/or Eloise at the Plaza

Perhaps this is more geared toward girls, but both American Girl Place — located at 609 Fifth Avenue at 49th Street — and Eloise at the Plaza — nearby at Fifth Avenue at Central Park South in the Plaza Hotel — are two one-of-a-kind experiences that any little girl will treasure.

AmGirlNYCAmerican Girl Place is about the size of a large department store.  Located on three floors, the store features all of the brand’s characters—from historical favorites to My American Girl dolls to current Girl of the Year—plus Bitty Baby and the Bitty Twins. Visitors can purchase dolls, outfits, accessories and furniture; in addition, there are matching kids-and-doll outfits. The store also has an American Girl Cafe for brunch, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, and parties; a photo studio, where visitors can pose for a picture and take home a souvenir issue of American Girl magazine with her face on the cover.  And lastly, there is a doll hair salon, for which you can treat your doll to have a professionally-trained stylist brush, braid, and twist your doll’s hair to to create a fabulous look. For $14, you can get your doll’s ears pierced with silver stud earrings, or treat her to a spa visit ($12), which includes a facial, nail decals, spa flip-flops and a faux face mask.

ElouiseEloise at the Plaza offers a much gentler experience.  Located on the Plaza Hotel on Central Park South, the literary-inspired store — from the “Eloise” book series — includes a stylish living room, a fashion room, and a tea room where family and friends can come together for tea and birthday parties and other celebrations.

 

10. Explore the parks

NY1New York City has more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities across the five boroughs. Parks properties range from swimming pools to wetlands and from woodlands to skating rinks.

If you are traveling to New York City in the summer, make plans to visit Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park.  This traditional, family-friendly amusement park is specifically geared to kids two-to 12 years old.

The top 10 largest parks are:

  1. Pelham Bay Park, Bronx: 2,765 acres
  2. Greenbelt, Staten Island: 1,778 acres
  3. Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx: 1,146 acres
  4. Flushing Meadows/Corona Park, Queens: 898 acres
  5. Central Park, Manhattan: 843 acres
  6. Marine Park, Brooklyn: 798 acres
  7. Bronx Park, Bronx: 718 acres
  8. Alley Pond Park, Queens: 655 acres
  9. Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk, South and Midland Beaches, Staten Island: 638 acres
  10. Forest Park, Queens: 544 acres

Post-script:  More resources

NYCgo.com — the official travel guide to New York City — just launched a new section of their Web site devoted to traveling with kids, “Explore With Waldo,” the city’s unofficial travel ambassador to kids visiting New York City.  Here, you can find links to recommended parks and cultural institutions — as well as to several of the city’s best attraction passes.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Posted in Hotels, Museums, New York City, Ritz-Carlton, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Deal alert: Virgin America launches two-day sale for travel through Nov. 20

Today, Virgin America launched a two-day sale for fall travel through Nov. 20, 2013; pictured above is a typical fall day in Central Park, New York City.

Today, Virgin America launched a two-day sale for fall travel through Nov. 20, 2013; pictured above is a typical fall day in Central Park, New York City. (COURTESY PHOTO)

 

Today, Virgin America launched a two-day sale for travel this fall between Oct. 1, 2013 to Nov. 20, 2013.

Sample one-way sale fares include:  San Francisco to/from Newark ($149), San Jose (Calif.) to/from Los Angeles ($59), and San Francisco to/from Boston ($159).

Note:  A 14-day advance purchase is required; tickets must be purchased by 11:59pm CT on September 18, 2013; lowest sale fares are available for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

For more information, visit www.virginamerica.com.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013. All rights reserved

 

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Bay Area hotel to host ‘French Wine Week’

Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City will kick-off French Wine Week on Sept. 23, 2013 with a celebration of French Champagne.

Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City will kick-off French Wine Week on Sept. 23, 2013 with a celebration of French Champagne.

Bay Area hotel to host French wine week, Sept. 23-30

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Francophiles, take note:  Sofitel San Francisco Bay in Redwood City will honor the French tradition “vendanges” or “late harvest” by hosting French Wine Week Sept. 23 to Sept. 30, 2013. Each day of French Wine Week, Bay Bar will offer new menu items and wine pairings including Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Languedoc, Loire, and Rhone.

For those who favor French Champagne, a kickoff event — featuring Veuve Clicquot — is set for Monday, Sept. 23, 6 – 8pm.

Feeling tipsy?  Spend the night. Hotel rooms start at $158.40.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

 

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United wins U.S. approval for new San Francisco-Chengdu route

Last week, United Airlines won U.S. approval for for new nonstop flights between San Francisco International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, China. The airline is waiting on approval from the Chinese government for its planned service to being in June 2014.

Last week, United Airlines won U.S. approval for new nonstop flights between San Francisco International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, China. The airline is waiting on approval from the Chinese government for its planned service to being in June 2014.

On Friday,  United Airlines announced that it has won U.S. approval for new nonstop flights between San Francisco International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport in Chengdu, China — one of China’s largest cities and the capital of Sichuan province in the central part of the country.

Upon approval from the Chinese government, the airline would begin serving Chengdu with three flights per week using Boeing’s new 787 jet. The flight schedule is planned for June 2014.

Estimated flight time is 14 hours and 15 minutes from San Francisco to Chengdu, and 13 hours and 50 minutes from Chengdu to San Francisco. This flight would be United’s first nonstop service between the U.S. and interior China.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

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Historic S.F. movie theater to continue Saturday morning matinees

The historic Balboa Theatre in San Francisco is reviving a childhood tradition:  Saturday morning screenings of  kid-friendly features. (COURTESY PHOTO)

The historic Balboa Theatre in San Francisco is reviving a childhood tradition: Saturday morning screenings of kid-friendly features. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Historic S.F. movie theater to continue Saturday morning matinees

BY KATHLEEN JAY

The historic Balboa Theatre — located at 3630 Balboa Street near 38th Avenue in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood — recently announced it will continue to screen Saturday morning matinees geared toward families with younger kids.

The popular “Popcorn Palace” Saturday schedule for youth has been extended through Dec. 21, 2013; each Saturday at 10 a.m. the theater will screen family-friendly features.  Tickets are $10 per person, and the fee includes a box of popcorn and a bottle of juice or water.

The fall 2013 schedule includes:

Opened Feb. 7, 1926, the historic movie theater was designed by renowned architects James and Merritt Reid who designed the Cliff House, Fairmount Hotel, Spreckels Temple of Music in Golden Gate Park and several other movie theaters, such as the Alexandria and Fox Theatre Redwood City.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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Ten really cool things to do in San Francisco this weekend (if you are not going to watch the America’s Cup)

SUP yoga, farmer's markets, the San Francisco Giants and boating on Stow Lake are among many things to do this weekend in San Francisco -- on top of watching the America's Cup. (COURTESY PHOTO)

SUP yoga, farmer’s markets, the San Francisco Giants and boating on Stow Lake are among many things to do this weekend in San Francisco — on top of watching the America’s Cup. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Ten really cool things to do in San Francisco this weekend (if you are not going to watch the America’s Cup)

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Tomorrow will be a big day for America’s Cup.

The “September Showdown” between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand for the 34th America’s Cup is set for tomorrow — with the first, highly-anticipated race starting at 1:15 p.m. I can only imagine that there will be thousands and thousands of spectators lining the race course from the start near the Marina Green to the finish line near America’s Cup Park at Piers 27/29.

For those who want to escape the crowds, below is a list of 10 really cool things to do this weekend, if watching the race isn’t your thing.

1. Farmer’s Markets, galore

Personally, I like the smaller Farmer’s Markets — but there is always a thrill of Saturday mornings at the crowded San Francisco Ferry Building’s farmer’s market, too. All markets listed are located in San Francisco.

SATURDAYS

Alemany Farmers’ Market (Mission/Bernal Heights), 100 Alemany Blvd. Hours: Saturdays: 6 a.m.  to 3 p.m.

Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market (Embarcadero) 1 Ferry Plaza. Hours: Saturdays: 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Fillmore Farmers’ Market (Fillmore) O’Farrell at Fillmore, and Fillmore Center Plaza Hours: Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Noe Valley Farmers’ Market (Noe Valley) 3861 24th St. between Vicksburg and Sanchez Streets. Hours: Saturdays: 8 a.m.  to 1 p.m., live music at 10 a.m.

SUNDAYS

Clement Street Farmers Market (Inner Richmond) 200 Clement St., between 3rd and 4th Avenues. Hours: Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Divisadero Farmers’ Market (Alamo Square) Grove St. at Divisadero.  Hours: Sundays: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Fort Mason Farmers’ Market (Marina) Fort Mason Center, Marina and Buchanan. Hours: Sundays: 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Glen Park Village Farmers’ Market (Glen Park) Glen Park BART Station parking lot at Bosworth and Arlington. Hours: Sundays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Heart of the City Farmers’ Market (Civic Center) United Nations Plaza, Market Street, between Seventh and Eighth Streets. Hours: Sundays: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Inner Sunset Farmers’ Market (Inner Sunset) 8th Ave., between Judah and Irving Streets. Hours: Sundays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Stonestown Farmers’ Market (Sunset) West side parking lot near Macy’s off Buckingham Way. Hours: Sundays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

2. SUP Yoga on the Bay (that would be “Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga”)

101 Surf Sports in San Rafael is offering stand-up paddlers and yoga enthusiasts the best of both worlds:  SUP Yoga. As the only company in the Bay Area to offer tethered Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga, the water sports shop offers SUP yoga every Saturday at 9:30 a.m.; participants should arrive by 9:20 a.m., sharp. Note:  reservations are required and scheduling can be impacted by weather; participants should wear either swimsuit or sports tank and shorts; a rash guard and sunscreen are also highly recommended; cotton fabrics should be avoided. One-hour class is $25.  Namaste!

3. Sunday Streets in the Western Addition

On Sunday (Sept. 8), the Western Addition will be transformed into a space for visitors to play, learn, and get to know the neighborhood. Activities — many of which are free — include screen printing, yoga classes, bike repairs, skateboard lessons, hula hooping, and lots of live music. For a full list of activities and a map of the neighborhood, visit http://www.sundaystreetssf.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/ExAd1.pdf.

4. Boating, no sailing, on Stow Lake

Stow Lake Boat House in Golden Gate Park has gone through a major renovation, in case it’s been a few years since you took a paddle boat around the lake. First, the boathouse is offering visitors the chance to rent  from a fleet of new, American-made boats that includes rowboats, electric boats, and pedal boats that seat from one- to four-boaters. All motorboats, including the support boat, are electric powered and silently glide across the serene waters of Stow Lake. Rental rates are: row boats, $14/hour; pedal boats, $19/hour; and electric boats, $29/hour. Additionally, the boathouse has a new, highly-sustainable café, which features nice treats, such as It’s-It ice cream sandwiches and Three Twins ice cream. The boathouse is open Saturdays and Sundays, year-round, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; boats rentals stop one hour before closing.

5. Party with purpose, for the parks

To support the San Francisco park system, the San Francisco Parks Alliance will host a western-themed, benefit on Saturday, Sept. 7 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. at Bercut Equitation Field — originally a Horseman’s Retreat in the 1940s — located off Chain of Lakes Drive in Golden Gate Park. Tickets start at $250 per person. This benefit will include a cocktail hour, bluegrass music, roping-and-riding events, a tented buffet, live music and dancing. Western Chic attire is appropriate. Last year, proceeds from Party for the Parks provided recycling containers in Golden Gate Park, a new automatic ventilation system in the Golden Gate Park nursery, and supported San Francisco Parks Alliance’s efforts to connect people with parks. Info: http://www.partyfortheparks.org.

6. Anchors, aweigh!

Through Oct. 13, the Legion of Honor — located near Land’s End — is hosting “Impressionists on the Water,” a truly remarkable exhibit of more than 80 paintings and works on paper by Impressionists — such as Claude Monet, Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Camille Pissarro — and Post-Impressionists — such as Maurice Denis and Paul Signac — of nautical life and sailing.  Tickets are $20 for adults; members and children 5 and under are free. The museum is open Saturday and Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.; last exhibition entry at 4:30 p.m.

7. Giants, Niners in town

On Saturday, the San Francisco Giants will be playing the Arizona Diamond Backs at 6:05 p.m. at AT & T Park; note:  Saturday is also “Giants Orange Sombrero” night, for which the first 20,000 fans will receive festive headwear. On Sunday, the Giants will be playing the Diamondbacks at 1:05 p.m. at home. Info: http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com San Francisco 49ers fans, take note: on Sunday (Sept. 8), kickoff will be at 1:25 p.m. at Candlestick Park, where the 49ers will be playing against the Green Bay Packers. Info: http://www.49ers.com/gameday/season-schedule.html.

8. Free Shakespeare in the Presidio

As part of Free Shakespeare in the Park’s 31st season, the theater company will present “Macbeth” on Saturday (Sept. 7) from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Directed by Kenneth Kelleher, the 100-minute play will be performed at the Main Post Parade Ground Lawn, located between Graham Street and Keyes Avenue in the Presidio. No tickets or reservations are required.

9. Head to the beach

With sunny, blue skies predicted for the weekend, pack your beach bag with a towel, a Frisbee and a picnic and head to the beach. My favorite:  Baker Beach (Be sure to stop at Angelina’s for sandwiches and beverages before walking down 25th Avenue to the beach.). You can never go wrong with Baker Beach, China Beach, Ocean Beach or  Fort Funston.

10. Free events and activities for America’s Cup Park

In case you change your mind about the big race tomorrow, America’s Cup Park — a free, public-access park along San Francisco’s Embarcadero — will be offering on Saturday several, free activities, such as a ride in the Flying on Water 4D AC72 simulator, an opportunity to learn about the science of sailing, a chance to meet the athletes at poster signings, playing at the Kids’ Zone, and relaxing in bean bags at PUMA YARD — not to mention a prime location to watch the end of the race. In addition, there will be a Sammy Hagar concert at America’s Cup Park on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at America’s Cup Park; tickets run $52 to $79 per ticket.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

Posted in San Francisco, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A vacation, for those who love to work out

Beth Shaw of Yogafit, above, and other fitness experts will be participating in a new wellness event at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua next month. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Beth Shaw of Yogafit, above, and other fitness experts will be participating in a new wellness event at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua next month. (COURTESY PHOTO)

 

A vacation, for those who love to work out

Kapalua resort to host new wellness event

BY KATHLEEN JAY

The Ritz-Carlton Kapaula – a beautiful, ocean-facing, golf-and-tennis luxury resort on west Maui — just announced it will be hosting a new wellness event: E
Malama Kou Kino (“Care For Your Body”).

With a focus on health and wellness, the resort will host a week of complimentary fitness experiences featuring renowned health and wellness experts — Beth Shaw and her YogaFit team.; Robert Ferguson, ” America’s Diet Free Life Coach”; T’ai Chi Champion, David Dorian Ross; strength-and-conditioning coach, Nick Tumminello; and YogaGlo instructor Felicia Tomasko –  to develop a diverse schedule of workout sessions and interactive seminars for its overnight guests. The five-day event is set for Oct. 31 to Nov. 3, 2013.

As mentioned, the E Malama Kou Kino workout sessions and seminars are complimentary for overnight guests of the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua; however, outside guests and the local community can purchase daily passes by calling the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Kapalua at (808) 665-7079.  For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com/kapalua.

The schedule — provided to me by the resort — is listed below:

Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013

7:30 a.m. – TaijiFit Flow by David Dorian Ross. TaijiFit is a mind/body “exercise” that combines the best of traditional Taiji (Tai Chi) with modern Western fitness. It’s a workout appropriate for any age or fitness level. Workout, 60 minutes

9 a.m. – Yoga Joint Remedy by Felicia Tomasko. If you wake up feeling stiff and tight, this joint mobilizing series can be a great remedy to feel a sense of ease and freedom in the joints in order to feel ready for the golf course, the pool, or the dance floor. Workout, 60 minutes

10:30 a.m. – The Naked Athlete with Nick Tumminello. The Naked Athlete will show you how to develop a world-class Functional Strength and Fat loss workout at a moment’s notice—wherever you are. Workshop, 90 minutes

2 p.m. – Power, Freedom and Flow by David Dorian Ross. Join David-Dorian for the enlightening, interactive lecture designed to identify in your own body and mind what is keeping you stuck and how you can break through and regain your balance using the ancient art of Taiji. Workshop, 90 minutes

3:45 p.m. – Safe, Sound Sleep by Felicia Tomasko. This class will offer a restorative sequence that draws upon the practices and philosophies of yoga and Ayurveda (a traditional Asian system of holistic health) to allow our nervous system to relax, allow our entire bodies to decompress, and to encourage sound, deep sleep. Workshop, 90 minutes

5:30 p.m. – Scary, Skinny Cocktail Happy Hour in Alaloa Lounge Enjoy specially priced Halloween-themed skinny cocktails from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 1, 2013

7:30 a.m. – Taiji to Go by David Dorian Ross. Learn a 10-minute routine you can use anywhere, to get back into the rhythm of healthy thinking and feeling. Workout, 60 minutes

9 a.m. – Yoga for Strong Immunity by Felicia Tomasko. Prepare for a gentle vinyasa class that encourages range of motion throughout the body specific for encouraging circulation through the lymphatic system–our body’s detoxification system. Workout, 60 minutes

10 a.m. – Sense of Place. A Sense of Place begins with the presentation of the award-winning documentary Then There Were None followed by a discussion of the history and subjects discussed in the film. A guided walking tour of the Honokahua Preservation Site explains its significance to ancient Hawaiians and its’ role today.

10:30 a.m. – How Taiji Can Save Your Life by David Dorian Ross. In this lecture you will learn about the oldest wellness model, Taiji, its organizing principles and philosophy provide you with the key elements to change your life and help change the world. Workshop, 90 minutes

11:30 a.m. – Lei Making. Make your own fresh-flower lei while learning its’ importance in the Hawaiian culture as a true sign of Aloha! Meets in the Medicinal Gardens breezeway.

2 p.m. – More Gain, No Knee Pain with Nick Tumminello. Knees issues don’t have to cancel your workout. Discover the top lower-body exercise variations you can use to work around bad knees and still get great results. Workshop, 90 minutes

3:45 p.m. – Take a Deep Breath and Destress by Felicia Tomasko. Breathing practices to reduce stress and encourage balance. Every minute, we take between 10-20 breaths. With the right technique, these activities can be opportunities for us to let go of habitual tension in order to find a sense of ease and comfort in our bodies as well as to experience more clarity and greater mental focus. Workshop, 75 to 90 minutes

5:30 p.m. – Skinny Cocktail Happy Hour in Alaloa Lounge Enjoy specially priced skinny cocktails from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

6 p.m. – Waihua Spa Evening Event Delight the senses with tray-passed healthy pupus, skinny cocktail bar, mini-treatments, trunk show, gift bag, raffle, retail sale and more.

Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013

7:30 a.m. – Chakra Energy YogaFit by Beth Shaw. This movement class will take you from the root chakra all the way up to the crown chakra, with different poses for complete balance of mind, body and spirit. Workout, 60 minutes

9 a.m. – Beyond Pilates by Claudia Micco. This Pilates inspired class combines Pilate’s mat exercise, core fitness training, aromatherapy, yoga asana and easy self-massage techniques. This class is designed to take you beyond Pilates to become strong, stretched and centered. Workout, 60 minutes

10:30 a.m. – YogaLean by Beth Shaw. YogaLean is not a diet, but rather a guide to developing a practice that meets you where you are in life and in your body, it slowly and graciously transforms you from the inside out. Through gentle, ancient and proven practices, this workshop takes you on a journey inward, where true transformation on every level begins. Workshop, 90 minutes

2 p.m. – Wine, Chocolate and Wellness by Robert Ferguson. Robert shares with you the rich history of both wine and chocolate, and the “how to” of enjoying food favorites without the concern of weight gain while optimizing personal wellness. Workshop, 90 minutes

3:45 p.m. – Top 10 Ab Exercises by Nick Tumminello. Join Nick Tumminello – one of the world’s top trainers – as he clarifies the confusion and narrows the field by showing you the top 10, scientifically founded and athlete approved, abdominal exercises. Workshop, 90 minutes

5:30 p.m. – Skinny Cocktail Happy Hour in Alaloa Lounge. Enjoy specially priced skinny cocktails from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013

7:30 a.m. – Labyrinth Meditation. Walk Labyrinths used for meditation are based on patterns that date back thousands of years and have roots in many cultures and traditions. It is both kinesthetic and introspective, a complete mind-body integrative activity. Please wear tennis shoes or walking shoes . Workout, 60 minutes

9 a.m. – Flex and Flow YogaFit with Beth Shaw. Learn to work your body and mind in a unique way. Discover the strength and cardiovascular benefits from this workout. As a strengthening program, YogaFit Flex and Flow provides a comprehensive, time efficient and functional way to strengthen all the muscles of our body, using our own body weight as resistance. Workout, 60 minutes Event schedule is subject to change.

10:30 a.m. – The Eat Anything and Everything Weight Loss Revolution by Robert Ferguson. Robert Ferguson shows how to prepare fat BURNING meals with your favorite foods, customize carbs to your unique metabolism, lose the weight you want and live diet-free for life. Workshop, 90 minutes

2 p.m. – What is Keeping You Stuck by David Dorian Ross. By applying the ancient principles of Taiji, David-Dorian has created a wellness model that helps you find your weakest link, that piece that is keeping you stuck or not allowing you. Learn about the missing link to your own formula for long lasting Health and Happiness. Find where your body and mind are imbalanced, learn how to fix them with interactive with quizzes and Assessments. Workshop, 90 minutes

3:45 p.m. – Mediation in Motion by Beth Shaw. Lose yourself in flow and grace as we wind down our conference weekend with the ultimate chill out and be present class. Set to a slow flow, we will follow our breath and see where our journey takes us. A true meditation in motion, based on kriya yoga practices and traditional yoga poses and stretches. Workout, 60 minutes

5:30 p.m. – Skinny Cocktail Happy Hour in Alaloa Lounge Enjoy specially priced skinny cocktails from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

 

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Tahoe Food and Wine Festival set for this weekend

This weekend, the Village at Northstar on the north shore of Lake Tahoe will host the 28th annual Tahoe Food and Wine Festival. (Photo: Kathleen Jay)

This weekend, the Village at Northstar on the north shore of Lake Tahoe will host the 28th annual Tahoe Food and Wine Festival. (Photo: Kathleen Jay)

 

Tahoe Food and Wine Festival set for this weekend

It’s not too late to head to the Village at Northstar for the 28th annual Tahoe Food and Wine Festival

BY KATHLEEN JAY

One of my favorite food festivals — the Tahoe Food and Wine Festival – is set to take place this weekend (Sept. 6-8, 2013) at Village at Northstar, located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe near Truckee, Calif.

First, are there any rooms still available?  Well, I checked the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, which living up to its name is the most high-end resort you will find on the North shore — and a short gondola ride to the festival (read:  no driving required). Room rates this weekend are high — starting at $589 per night — but during non-festival nights, you can book a room here to enjoy Tahoe’s fall foliage starting at $239 per night.

What’s going on at the festival? Traditionally, the festival kicks off Friday afternoon with its annual grape stomp — a very entertaining event for both observers and participants. This year the grape stop will be help at 5 p.m. on Friday in Tahoe City.

Wine tastings, cooking demos, and Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair are the mainstays of this festival — many of which are free.  Among the free events Saturday are: chef Jason Gronlund of Florida’ Smokeybones Bar and Fish Grill will give a demonstration of his pulled pork at noon; chef Lara Richie will teach 25 attendees how to make their own fresh mozzarella; first-come, first-seated (1:15-2:15 p.m.; if you miss out, there’s another chance at 3:15 p.m.); and TV chef Nathan Lyon (“Good Food America,” “Growing a Greener World”) will prepare a summer’s-end dish (2:15 p.m.).

Also on Saturday will be the popular “Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off.” This year’s competition will feature last year’s winner, Elsa Corrigan of Mamasake in the Village at Squaw, facing mark Estee of Reno’s Campo. Each chef will prepare four courses in an hour-long battle with a required ingredient revealed at the start. This event is $15, and will run 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Another interesting and new event this year is “Pedal and Pinots.” To be held on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., this event invites participants to take a tasting room tour via bicycle. the tour starts at the Village and winds through Historic Truckee for a delightful tasting of Pinots at The Pour House and Uncorked Wine Bar. The tour backtracks to Truckee River Winery for your final tastings, light appetizers, bocce and relaxation. Tickets are $55.

For list of all events and venue information, visit www.TahoeFoodandWine.com.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted in Calif., Lake Tahoe, Ritz-Carlton | Leave a comment

UAL to add Indianapolis-San Francisco route, IMA to host Matisse exhibit

 

This fall, the Indiana Museum of Art will host "Matisse, Life in Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art," an exhibit featuring more than 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by the French painter.

This fall, the Indiana Museum of Art will host “Matisse, Life in Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art,” an exhibit featuring more than 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by the French painter.

 

UAL to add Indianapolis-San Francisco route, IMA to host Matisse exhibit

This week, United Airlines announced new daily nonstop service from Indianapolis to its hub at San Francisco International Airport. The new service — which will begin Jan. 7, 2014 — will operate using Airbus A319 aircraft, with eight United First seats, 40 United Economy Plus seats and 72 United Economy seats.

United flight 500 will depart Indianapolis International Airport (IND) at 8 a.m., arriving at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) at 10 a.m. The return flight, United 317, will depart San Francisco at 1:35 p.m., arriving in Indianapolis at 8:51 p.m.

While in Indianapolis, visit one of my favorite museums:  the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

With an encyclopedic collection of more than 54,000 works spanning 5,000 years, the museum — founded in 1883 — is among the 10 largest and oldest general art museums in the U.S.

This fall, the museum will be hosting “Matisse, Life in Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art Exhibition.” The show — which will run Oct. 13 to Jan. 12, 2014 — features more than 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints by Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), arguable one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved

 

Posted in Airlines, Museums, San Francisco International Airport, United Airlies | Leave a comment

Hawaiian Airlines to replace current portable entertainment systems with iPad minis on Sept. 1

On Sept. 1, Hawiian Airlines will offer travelers use of an iPad mini for its in-flight entertainment. (COURTESY PHOTO)

On Sept. 1, Hawaiian Airlines will offer travelers use of an iPad mini for its in-flight entertainment. (COURTESY PHOTO)

 

Hawaiian Airlines to replace current portable entertainment systems with iPad minis on Sept. 1

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Today, Hawaiian Airlines announced it will replace all current portable entertainment systems on all of its Boeing 767-300 routes with iPad minis starting Sept. 1.  The airline is set to deploy 1,500 iPad minis on 14 aircraft serving 14 routes between Hawai’i and the U.S. Mainland, Asia and South Pacific.

With the iPad mini, Hawaiian Airlines travelers can enjoy more than 100 hours of the latest Hollywood releases, television shows as well as interactive games.

The iPad minis will be complimentary in business-class seats; the devices will be available for rent in economy-class seats for $15 if reserved at the departure gate prior to boarding (Otherwise, the fee will be $17 in-flight.).

The airline — the only carrier flying between the U.S. Mainland and Hawai’i to offer complimentary meals in economy-class seats — serves San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose in the Bay Area.

For more information, visit www.hawiianairlines.com.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

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Two-for-one B’way tickets available Sept. 2 to 15

As part of Broadway Week 2013, two-for-one tickets will be available for the highly-anticipated productions of Big Fish, which will be headlined by Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz ("Dead Accounts") and Tony nominee Kate Baldwin ("Finian's Rainbow") as well as Bobby Steggert ("110 in the Shade"), Krystal Joy Brown ("Leap Of Faith"), Anthony Pierini ("Mary Poppins") and Zachary Unger ("Chaplin").

As part of Broadway Week 2013, two-for-one tickets will be available for the highly-anticipated productions of Big Fish, which will be headlined by Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz (“Dead Accounts”) and Tony nominee Kate Baldwin (“Finian’s Rainbow”) as well as Bobby Steggert (“110 in the Shade”), Krystal Joy Brown (“Leap Of Faith”), Anthony Pierini (“Mary Poppins”) and Zachary Unger (“Chaplin”). (COURTESY PHOTO)

Big Apple Theater-lover alert: Two-for-one B’way tickets available Sept. 2 to 15
BY KATHLEEN JAY

Get them while their hot!

NYC & Company — New York City’s official tourism and partnership organization — announced this morning that Broadway Week Fall 2013 will offer theatergoers two-for-one tickets to 19 popular Broadway shows from Sept. 2 to Sept. 15, 2013.

Tickets for Broadway Week Fall 2013 will go on sale Aug. 19, 2013 at nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

Shows participating in Broadway Week Fall 2013:

• Annie
• Big Fish
• Chicago
• First Date
• Forever Tango
• The Glass Menagerie
• Jersey Boys
• Let It Be
• The Lion King
• Mamma Mia!
• Newsies
• Once
• The Phantom of the Opera
• Rock of Ages
• Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella
• Soul Doctor
• Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark
• The Trip to Bountiful
• Wicked

Note: Tickets are subject to availability, and blackout dates may apply.
For more information, visit nycgo.com/broadwayweek.

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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Delta to kickoff hourly SFO-LAX shuttle next month

Begining Sept. 3, 2013,,Delta Airlines will kick off hourly, non-stop shuttle service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). (COURTESY PHOTO)

Beginning Sept. 3, 2013,,Delta Airlines will kick off hourly, non-stop shuttle service between San Francisco  and Los Angeles. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Delta to kickoff hourly SFO-LAX shuttle next month

New service to offer shorter check-in windows, new on-board perks
BY KATHLEEN JAY

Begining Sept. 3, 2013, Delta Airlines will kick off hourly, non-stop shuttle service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Geared toward business travelers, the new service will offer 14 daily flights, which will hourly beginning at 7 a.m., Monday through Friday. The shuttle service will be operated by Delta Connection partner, Compass Airlines using E-175 aircraft to accommodate 12 first-class passengers, 12 economy-comfort passengers and 52 economy passengers.

Additional perks for this new service include:
• Check-in as close as 30 minutes prior to departure
• Dedicated check-in counters exclusively for Shuttle customers
• Gates located near security
• Complimentary newspapers for all customers including Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Financial Times
• Assigned seating
• Complimentary, healthy onboard snacks provided by LYFE Kitchen, a California-based lifestyle food brand
• In all classes of service, passengers can enjoy complimentary in-flight beverages, including Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. craft beer, Starbucks coffee and wine from Wente Vineyards
• Cocktails available for purchase in economy seats
• Access to in-flight Wi-Fi on all shuttle flights

For more information, visit www.delta.com.

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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San Francisco: de Young to host Hockney exhibit this fall

Starting oct. 26, 2013, the de Young Museum in San Francisco will host a new David Hockney exhibit, that has been assembled by the artist specifically for the museum.  Pictured here is: David Hockney, Yosemite I, October 16th 2011. iPad drawing printed on paper (6 sheets), mounted on Dibond (6 sheets). Each: 71 3/4 x 42 3/4 in. (182.3 x 108.6 cm); overall: 143 1/2 x 128 1/4 in. (364.5 x 325.8 cm) © David Hockney, 2013. (COURTESY IMAGE)

Starting oct. 26, 2013, the de Young Museum in San Francisco will host a new David Hockney exhibit, that has been assembled by the artist specifically for the museum. Pictured here is: David Hockney, Yosemite I, October 16th 2011. iPad drawing printed on paper (6 sheets), mounted on Dibond (6 sheets). Each: 71 3/4 x 42 3/4 in. (182.3 x 108.6 cm); overall: 143 1/2 x 128 1/4 in. (364.5 x 325.8 cm) © David Hockney, 2013. (COURTESY IMAGE)

de Young set to host Hockney exhibit this fall

Exhibit to include artist’s large-scale works

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Beginning Oct. 26, 2013, the de Young Museum — located in San Francisco Golden Gate Park — is set to host “David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition.” The exhibit — which has been assembled by Hockney exclusively for the de Young — will run through Jan. 20, 2014.

Covering Hockney’s work since 2002 — one of the most prolific periods of the artist’s career — the exhibit will feature more than 300 works will be shown in 18,000 square feet of gallery space — the largest exhibition to date in the history of the museum.

The exhibit will include some of Hockney’s grandest works both in terms of size and concept, such as “The Bigger Message,” his 30-canvas re-working of Claude Lorrain’s “The Sermon on the Mount.” Other more intimate works included are portraits depicting friends, colleagues, and family members.

Also worth noting is the exhibition’s “Cubist movies,” which are made using as many as 18 separate digital cameras, mounted on a grid and recording the action simultaneously, resulting in a movie with as many as 18 perspectives.

Tickets are $25 for adults and include general admission; discounts are available for seniors, students, and youths. Members and children under 5-years old are free.

For more information, visit www.deyoungmuseum.org.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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San Francisco: Grace Cathedral to host first-ever yogathon

Grace Cathedral -- located atop Nob Hill in San Francisco -- is set to host its first-ever yogathon on Sept. 7, 2013. The event will raise funds for its community pre-school. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Grace Cathedral — located atop Nob Hill in San Francisco — is set to host its first-ever yogathon on Sept. 7, 2013. The event will raise funds for its community pre-school. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Grace Cathedral to host first-ever yogathon

Register Now for Yoga for Change on Sept. 7

BY KATHLEEN JAY

San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral announced today it will host a benefit to support its community preschool with the community’s first-ever yogathon.

Open to the public, the event, which is called “Yoga for Change,” will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013.

Hosted by renowned yoga teacher Darren Main, the first-ever yogathon for yogis of all levels will raise scholarship funds for low-income students from the Tenderloin and other at-risk city neighborhoods.

Registration starts at $20 per participant.

A couple of things worth noting:

- Check-in is at 8 a.m.

- Gentle Hatha yoga practice begins at 9 a.m.

- A reception following the practice will be held at 11 a.m.

- Grace asks that participants to bring your own yoga mat and any optional props that you wish to use.

- Due to construction on the Great Stairs, access to the cathedral may be limited to the California Street doors and both sets of doors leading from the plaza.

For more information, visit  http://gracecathedralsf.givezooks.com/events/2013-yogathon

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 203 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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Deal: Amtrak to offer 25-percent off on travel to Oakland A’s home games

OaklandAthletics

Amtrak is Oakland Athletics fans discounted rail fares on the days of home games through Nov. 1, 2013. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Deal: Amtrak to offer 25-percent off on travel to Oakland A’s home games

BY KATHLEEN JAY

Through Nov. 1, 2013, Amtrak is offering riders 25-percent off fares to Oakland A’s home games at Oakland Coliseum via the Capitol Corridor train line, which stops right outside the stadium. Additionally, kids ride at half the regular adult rail fare. Note, the following blackout dates — as well as other restrictions — apply: Aug. 30, Sept. 2 and Oct. 11.

When I tested it for a round-trip fare between Sacramento and Oakland Coliseum-Airport on Saturday, July 27, when the As play the Angels at home, the discount popped up. The regular $58 fare was reduced to $43.50.

For more information, visit www.amtrak.com.

– Kathleen Jay ### Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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Lake Tahoe: Eco-Conscious Heavenly to launch new summer programs

 

Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe (Calif.) recently made a proposal for 12 new eco-conscious expansions, including a  Forest Flyer -- an all-weather toboggan that rides securely on raised steel tracks down the mountain via gravity through a forested setting. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe (Calif.) recently made a proposal for 12 new eco-conscious expansions, including a Forest Flyer — an all-weather toboggan that rides securely on raised steel tracks down the mountain via gravity through a forested setting. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Eco-Conscious Heavenly to launch new summer programs

Year-round resort makes plans to offer ropes courses, ziplines and bike park for summer visitors

BY KATHLEEN JAY

As if I need a reason to visit Lake Tahoe in the summer — now Heavenly Mountain Resort is offering 12 more.

This week, the largest all-season mountain resort in South Lake Tahoe (Calif.) submitted a proposal to the USDA Forest Service and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for approval on new, on-mountain summer activities, such as ziplines, ropes courses, Forest Flyers, a mountain bike park and trails, additional hiking trails and mountain excursion tours — all with extensive, integrated environmental and interpretive programming.

On an eco-conscious note, the resort will work with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and the Nature Conservancy to bring scientific content to the eco-discovery experiences. Heavenly will also contribute one percent of all summer lift ticket and activity revenue to The Nature Conservancy for forest and watershed restoration projects.

With approval on the first phase of its summer expansion, the resort — which straddles land in both California and Nevada — is currently building two ropes courses, a canopy tour and a four-line zipline center. According to Heavenly, the new offerings are anticipated to be available by the end of summer — or in the very least, in time for the 2013-2014 winter season.

Highlights of Heavenly’s new program includes:

• Mid-station zipline canopy tour: This interpretive zipline canopy tour, which will incorporate the use of ziplines and aerial walkway bridges, will begin at the top of the Gondola and finish at the Mid-Station Observation Deck.

• East Peak zipline canopy tour: This multi-stage guided zipline canopy tour will begin near the top of Big Easy chairlift and end with a zip over East Peak Lake, near the base of Dipper Express chairlift.

• Sky Meadows zipline canopy tour: This tour will begin near the top of Tamarack Express chairlift and end near the base of Sky Express chairlift.

• Sky Cycle canopy tour: Located in the area between the Gondola top station and the Mid-Station Observation Deck, this tour will allow visitors to traverse the area by pedaling individual bicycle-like devices that are suspended from a cable in the air.

• Sky Meadows ropes course: A self-guided ropes course consisting of a series of platforms and rope walkway/bridges will be located between Sky Deck and the base of Sky Express chairlift.

• Forest Flyer: The Forest Flyer allows guests on individual sleds to descend on a raised track through the forest and natural rock formations. Located north and west of the existing tubing hill, the Forest Flyer will utilize gravity for the descent while giving riders full control of their speed.

• East Peak Lake water activities: Water-oriented activities on and around the existing East Peak reservoir will include kayaking, canoeing and fishing.

• Hiking trails: New hiking trails will connect the top of Tamarack Express chairlift to the top of the Gondola and Tamarack Lodge, continuing down to East Peak Lodge, approximately three miles in length.

• Ridge Run Lookout tower and observation deck: A new observation tower will be developed near the existing Ridge Run Overlook. Resembling a historic Forest Service Fire Lookout Tower, it will offer views of High Meadows and Freel Peak, as well as Lake Tahoe. The existing picnic deck adjacent to the top of Sky Express chairlift will be rebuilt.

• Mountain bike park: Dipper Express, Comet Express and Tamarack Express will serve as access points to the Mountain Bike Park in the East Peak Basin area, offering eight to 10 total miles of trails ranging in difficulty from beginner through expert.

• Mountain excursion tour: This tour will connect all three activity centers via motorized 4×4 vehicles, at the top of the Gondola, East Peak Lodge, and Sky Meadows, and will offer guided tours to various locations around the upper mountain.

• Interpretive learning: Interpretive Discovery Zones will be integrated throughout the experience, sharing the area’s rich natural environment and cultural history with guests using fun and informative learning techniques.

For more information, visit www.skiheavenly.com.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

 

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Arizona: W Scottsdale gets cool V.I.P. Suites

The W Scottsdale in downtown Scottsdale (Ariz.) recently opened six V.I.P suites, which start at $1,000 per night.  In addition, the luxury hotel is offering deeply-discounted rates for summer visitors, who just need to know when to stay out of the heat to enjoy this beautiful city. (COURTESY PHOTO)

The W Scottsdale in downtown Scottsdale (Ariz.) recently opened six V.I.P suites, which start at $1,000 per night. In addition, the luxury hotel is offering deeply-discounted rates for summer visitors, who just need to know when to stay out of the heat to enjoy this beautiful city. (COURTESY PHOTO)

W Scottsdale gets cool V.I.P. Suites

Downtown hotel also offers great summer deals

BY KATHLEEN JAY

I always think — why would you go to Las Vegas — aside from the gambling — when beautiful Scottsdale (Ariz.) is so much cooler.

The urban, desert destination — with more spa, golf, galleries, restaurants and shopping that anyone can enjoy — has a new reason to visit:  the W Scottsdale is rolling out the red carpet to visitors looking for a decadent weekend with new V.I.P. suites.

To kick the luxury up a notch (think L.A.), the hotel recently opened six V.I.P. suites designed by Theresa Fatino, whose design work includes SLS Hotels, The Bazaar by Jose Andres, St. Regis and W Hotels & Residences Worldwide.

Located in private wing of the hotel’s sixth floor, the V.I.P. area includes a one-bedroom suite, four two-bedroom suites and a 2,200-square-foot corner suite that boasts sweeping views of the Sonoran Desert as well as the hotel’s pool deck.

In terms of layout, each suite features a separate living room, high-tech kitchen and en-suite laundry unit, as well as hardwood floors, sliding glass doors, large balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows. Ahh, the perfect home away from home.

Rates for the one- and two-bedroom suites start from $1,000 per night; the corner suite starts at $4,500 per night.

>> Great summer rates

For the frugal traveler who loves luxury, summer is the best time to visit Scottsdale. The key is to get up early or begin your day to avoid the desert sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — a great time to check out the city’s beautiful art galleries, hit the shopping areas (read: Fashion Square), or enjoy a decadent lunch at one of the city’s many amazing, air-conditioned restaurants.

For bargain hunters,  the W Scottsdale is offering a couple of deeply-discounted deals for summer visitors.

• “Summer Sale” rate: Visitors who book rooms before July 26 can enjoy savings up to 30-percent off through Labor Day; discounted rates start at$169 per night and include a daily $25 hotel credit.

• “Pay Your Birth Year” rate: Valid through Dec. 30, book two nights, and the hotel will offer the second night at the rate equal to your birth year. For example, if you’re born in 1968, then you pay $68 for the second night. Note:  the first night starts at $199.

One final note for those who enjoy the nightlife:  With some of the country’s strictest D.U.I. laws, the hotel is perfectly situated downtown — and is literally in pedestrian distance from most of the tony Arizona city’s nightlife.

For more information, visit www.wscottsdalehotel.com.

– Kathleen Jay

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Copyright 2013 by Kathleen Jay. All rights reserved.

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