October Leisure Group Travel Magazine

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From Culinary to Adventure, October's Leisure Group Travel brings you the latest in group travel.


OCTOBER 2009Return your Reader Service Card by November 15PRSRT STDU.S. PostagePAIDLebanon Junction, KYPermit No. 414A Premier Tourism Marketing publication www.leisuregrouptravel.comPO Box 609, Palos Heights, IL 60463 CHANGE SERVICE REQUESTEDREGISTER TO WIN $500 SHOPPING SPREE AT ANY ONE OF AMERICAS PREMIER SHOPPING PLACES16-24 PassengersBRANDS YOUCAN TRUST:since 1918 7 Continents. 125 Tours.Learning VacationsCST# 2006766-20 UBN# 601220855 Nevada Seller of Travel Registration No. 2003-0279Collettes No Worries Travel Protectionwaiver promises you a FULL CASH REFUND ifyou cancel right up to the day prior to departure.Whether it be a cruise along Sydney Harbour, a visit toFlorences Academy Gallery to stand before MichelangelosStatue of David, or being whisked past glorious CanadianRockies scenery by train...THIS IS YOUR WORLD.Where will your map take you?When you book an escorted tour with Collette Vacations, thevalue is unbeatable. Included on every tour: A Tour Manager takes care of every detail on tour for you Key sightseeing Unique accommodations Many meals Cultural entertainment Even baggage handlingFor more information call yourDistrict Sales Manager or 800.852.5655of MOMENTS7 continentsThe Oberammergau Passion Play, a tradition dating back nearly 400 years, is performedonce every decade in the village of Oberammergau, Germany, where it will be runningfromMay to September 2010. Come celebrate this historic event with Collette Vacations! Hundreds of guaranteed dates Choose from 8 European vacationsfrom Italy to Croatiathat includeOberammergaus Passion Play Weve been taking travelers to the Passion Play since 1984an anniversary yearbut we also visit Oberammergau all nine years in between! Check out our Oberammergau video atwww.collettevacations.com/oberammergau.cfmWe have your ticket to the event of the decade!Photo: Oberammergau TourismusFEATURES12 Student Travel Planning Guide21 Europe Outlook 2010 by randy mink & jeff gaydukNORTHEAST26 Sampling Vermont by randy minkSOUTH31 Taste of Louisiana by randy minkMIDWEST40 Amish Country Fixins by colleen kitkaWEST46 Western Adventures by elana andersencon ten t s16ONTHECOVER:AwhaleofatimeinQuebec.Photo courtesy of Tourisme Qubec Vol.19, No. 5 October 2009COLUMNS6 On My Mindby jeff gayduk8 On Culinary Travelby holly hughes10 On Cruisesby cindy bertram50 On Technologyby john kammCOVER STORYReturn your Reader Service Card by November 15 and be eligible. See inside back cover for details!COVER STORYADVENTURE TRAVEL16 Consumer Trends BodeWell For Adventure Travel Niche by jim forberg18 Adventure Travel SummitREGISTER TO WIN$500 SHOPPING SPREE AT ANY ONE OF AMERICAS PREMIER SHOPPING PLACES31LOUISIANANew Orleans Metropolitan CVB/Sarah EssexMoab Area Travel CouncilTodays groups want something to write home aboutVol.19, No. 5 October 2009Editorial & Advertising Office621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406Willowbrook, IL 60527P 630.794.0696 F 630.794.0652info@ptmgroups.comPublisher Jeffrey Gaydukjeff@ptmgroups.comManaging Editor Randy Minkrandy@ptmgroups.comSenior Editor John Klosterjohn@ptmgroups.comSenior Editor Elana Andersenelana@ptmgroups.comDirector, Design & Production Robert Wyszkowskirob@ptmgroups.comRegional Sales ManagersInternational Richard HaymakerP 630.794.0696 F 630.794.0652richard@ptmgroups.comIllinois Jim McCurdyP 630.794.0696 F 630.794.0652jim@ptmgroups.comEastern Midwest/Canada Amy JanssensP 630.294.0318 F 630.794.0652amy@ptmgroups.comNortheast Ellen KlestaP 630.794.0696 F 630.794.0652ellen@ptmgroups.comSoutheast Hutson LambertP 228.452.9683 F 228.452.6370 hutson@ptmgroups.comSouthern Dolores RidoutP/F 281.762.9546dolores@ptmgroups.comFlorida & Caribbean Prof Inc. P 813.286.8299 F 813.287.0651 proftampa@aol.comWest John GibbsP 415.929.7619 F 415.358.5550johng@ptmgroups.comWestern Midwest/Online Sales Theresa ORourkeP 630.794.0696 F 630.794.0652theresa@ptmgroups.comThe publisher accepts unsolicited editorial matter, as well as advertising, but assumes noresponsi bility for statements made by advertisers or contributors. Every effort is made toensure the accuracy of the information published, but the publisher makes no warrantythat listings are free of error. The publisher is not responsible for the return of unsolicitedphotos, slides or manuscripts.Leisure Group Travel (ISSN-1531-1406) is publishedbi-monthly by Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc. 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406,Willowbrook, IL 60527. The magazine is distributed free of charge to qualified tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, bank travel clubs and other travel organizations. Other travel-related suppliers may sub scribe at thereduced rate of $12.00 per year. The regular sub scrip tion price for all others is$18.00 per year. Single copies are $4.95 each.Send Address Change to: Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc.P.O. Box 609, Palos Heights, IL 60463All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in anyform without written permission of the publisher.A publicationStop by the Group University bookstorefor a full line-up of educational seminarsand books on developing and managing yourgroup travel business. Titles include Marty deSoutos How to Plan, Operate,& Lead Successful GroupTrips (132 pages), seminars in print on starting and managinga group travel program, organizing group cruises, pricingstrategies and negotiation tactics. Order directly online andsave visit www.GroupUniversity.com today!Online ExclusivesBack To SchoolOur latest e-magazine targets the fast growing religious travel marketplace, withdestination ideas, packages and inspiration onfaith-based group travel. InSite on ReligiousTravel is both a website and e-magazine, withthe best of the best content and directory resourcesgathered each month and delivered via email to your inbox.Visit http://insite.re-ligioustraveldirectory.com to subscribe.NEWS AS IT HAPPENS PERSPECTIVE TOOLSInSite On Religious TravelGREAT DESTINATION ARTICLES DONT STOP WITH THE PRINT EDITION -LeisureGroupTravel.com features online-only destination features,breaking news and commentary from four travel blogs. Check out our OnlineExclusives for the inside track on hot group travel destinations. Articles areavailable in new digital page flip and pdf formats for easy downloading and storage! From the home page of LeisureGroupTravel.com scroll down the leftmargin to the Online Exclusives section.on my mind jeff gaydukFEW WOULD ARGUE THATniche and affinity group travel is thefuture of our industry. Traditional groupplanners need not look further thantheir current client base to recognizethat their core group of seniors are exit-ing their prime travel years. Weve allhad a dose of truth serum over the lastdecade as the younger generation oftravelers just doesnt hop on the nextbus to Branson.Riding on the see-saw as we balancethe needs of conventional grouptravelers while ushering in new wavesof travelers with unique wants anddesires, we have been diligent aboutcreating niche market coverage inLeisure Group Travel and on Leisure-GroupTravel.com. Each issue of themagazine contains fresh ideas on howto diversify your business to reachsome of these fast growing markets.August, for example, had an expansivesection on Religious Travel, and thisedition covers both Adventure andStudent Travel.Its long been my philosophy thatdestination knowledge is worthless ifyou dont know how to fill up a coach,so weve taken a leadership role inproviding this sort of education in hopesof bringing these niche markets to life,and help you determine where yourbest opportunity lies.CARVING UP NICHE MARKETSIn a bold move during the worstrecession our nation has experiencedin the last 70 years, we are developinga cutting-edge series of print andonline publications and resources forselect niche group markets. We haveselected four core market segments Sports, Students, Reunions andReligious Travel all very powerfulsegments of the group travel industry,all growth-oriented markets. Our staffis hard at work establishing our seriesof planning guides, e-magazines anddirectories for these niche travel markets.The planning guides provide vision with advice, checklists and how-toideas that explore the mechanics ofdeveloping and executing niche mar-ket events and trips. The e-magazinesprovide a timely dose of inspirationon new destinations, packages andbest practices, and the directories pro-vide a backbone of destination infor-mation with key contact informationon CVBs, attractions, tour/receptiveoperators and hotels to facilitate plan-ning. Of course, were linking allthese together to provide a uniquecombination of how to, where to andwhy to resources, each of which arecustom-designed for their respectivemarket segment.So which niche market do you fancy?Is religious group travel in your future?Are you keen on marketing your serv-ices to student/youth groups? Does thegrowing reunion market interest you?Or are sports events your bag? Our ob-jective is to help you develop your niche& affinity group business with thesecomponents as a core resource.Other ideas and niche markets willsurely grow over time, as this is just thebeginning of the process. In the mean-time, go to LeisureGroupTravel.comand click on the Niche Group Travellink under Online Exclusives to learnmore about these products.Happy Traveling,Jeff Gayduk, PublisherThe Riches are in the NichesJeff was lured into the advertising worldby hundreds of See Ruby Falls billboardshe encountered on family trips from Illinoisto Florida.6 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comOur objective is to help you develop yourniche & affinity group businessIN MEMORY OF JOHN GAYDUKOctobers LeisureGroup Travel is dedicated to my father, John Gayduk, who left this world onAug. 26 at the age of 89. My dadwould give you the shirt off his backif he thought you could use it morethan he, and had an innate abilityto make the best of any circumstance.Our cross-country family trips spurredme to explore my passion for travel.He will be missed.on culinary travel holly hughesTWENTY YEARS AGO, WHEN Iwas editing travel guides from a desk inNew York, it was a radical move to hirelocal food writers to provide restaurantreviews. Publishing wisdom decreedthat the same writer who trampedthrough museums and thumped motelmattresses could also throw together alist of eateries, mixing tried-and-truewhite-tablecloth standards with an up-scale diner or two for budget travelers.Zagat only published one slim guide, toManhattan; Michelins red guides onlycovered Europe. I never imagined thatsomeday thered be a market for myinternational travel guide, 500 Placesfor Food &Wine Lovers.Oh, how things have changed.I blame Peter Mayles 1991 bestsellerA Year In Provence. Once it was enoughsimply to drive through the South ofFrance, admiring its scenery and sam-pling local cafes. Now, every visitor toProvence or Tuscany has to lug home asuitcase weighed down with bottles ofolive oil, jars of preserves and obscureitems of cookware.The change took us all by surprise. By1998, when the term culinary tourismwas first coined, it labeled a trend thatwas already in full swing. Now thereseven an International Culinary TourismAssociation (www.culinarytourism.org),founded in 2003 as a clearinghouse fortravel professionals interested in bookingthe best dine-arounds, winery tours,farm visits and spa dining.There was a time when cookingclasses and chef demos were only forspouse programs nowadays, bothhalves of the couple show up, spatulasin hand (all those aspiring Rachael Raysand Anthony Bourdains!). And its notenough just to labor over a hot stove most cooking schools also usher theirstudents into local markets, onto thefishing docks to see (and smell!) thedays catch hauled off the boats, or intothe very fields, orchards and gardenswhere their ingredients grow.Even Anthony Bourdain nowadaysappears more often on the Travel Chan-nel than the Food Network. As MichaelPollan (author of the bestseller The Om-nivores Dilemma) noted recently in theNew York Times Magazine, while theTravel Channel offers more culinarytravel shows, the Food Network itselffeatures fewer how-to cooking showsand more eating travelogues.The new culinary tourism is dis-tinct from gourmet tourism. It used tobe that travelers bragged about scoringa hard-to-get reservation at a five-starrestaurant when they came home fromvacation. The new trophy restaurants?No-name backstreet finds that arentlisted in any standard travel guide mom-and-pop diners, seafood shacks,ethnic storefronts, the dives only localsknow. Authenticity is the name ofthe game.A NEWWORDIn 2008, the New Oxford AmericanDictionary declared locavore the NewWord of the Year a sure sign that foodand place are ever more inextricablylinked in peoples minds. At first, beinga locavore referred to how daily eatinghabits relate to ones home community,supporting sustainable agriculture andlocal farmers. But it didnt take long fortravelers to jump on the locavore band-wagon too. Learning about local foodshas become an essential part of pre-tripresearch, from identifying native crops(blueberries andlobster in Maine,oysters and okrain Louisiana) tomaking a checklistof regional dishes to sample. Whet-ting your appetite before a trip is halfthe fun. Bird-watchers keep their ownlife lists why shouldnt a barbecue-lover work on a life list of famousshacks, from North Carolina to Texas?Its a moving target, though. Restau-rants close, chefs move, menus change.The same goes for wineries, microbrew-eries and farm tours new stars riseevery season. I expect that my next edi-tion of 500 Places For Food &WineLovers will feature a raft of must-see culi-nary destinations that dont even existtoday. Staying ahead of the curve is achallenge but the research sure is fun.Catching the Wave of Culinary Tourism8 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comHolly Hughes is the author of Frommers 500Places for Food & Wine Lovers (Wiley Publishing,Inc., 471 pages, $19.99).Learning about local foods has become an essential part of pre-trip research We serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday; lunch and dinner all week.* *Breakfast served at participating locations. Free meals for your driver and group leader Ample free motor coach parking All-inclusive nationwide pricing for groups of 20 or more Food thats ready for a quick, hassle-free stop A wide variety of foods to accommodate specifi c diet choices 2009 Buffets, Inc.Incredible variety for your group. Amazing value for you.LOOKS LIKE EVERYONES HUNGRY FOR THE SAME PLACE.Its easy to make reservations. Visit www.buffet.com/leisuregroupemail: groupsales@buffetsinc.com or call 866-840-6654on cruises cindy bertramWHAT BEGANWITHTWOseatings in the main dining room, sim-ple lunches and no alternatives beyondroom service has changed dramatically.Dining onboard today is about flexibil-ity and choices, from casual fare to high-end cuisine, as new ships debut andcruise lines offer more options. A newgeneration of dining awaits your groups.Norwegian Cruise Lines FreestyleDining, launched in 2000, andPrincess Cruises Anytime Diningreally pioneered dining flexibility. Nowother cruise lines have incorporated sim-ilar programs, and theyre available togroups. Royal Caribbean International,for instance, has My Time Dining andMy Family Time Dining. HollandAmerica Lines As YouWish dining al-lows guests to choose traditional pre-setseating and dining times or a completelyflexible schedule. With flexible dining,passengers can make reservations aheadof time or simply walk in. Finally, afterdoing a pilot program in 2008, CarnivalCruise Lines just launched YourChoice Dining in April as a third din-ing choice with a Your Time openseating. Its currently being rolled outfleetwide and will be featured on allCarnival ships by summer 2010.Specialty restaurants are now thenorm and usually involve an additionalper-person surcharge. Exclusive toHolland America Lines Eurodam isTamarind, a Pan-Asian restaurant witha capacity for 144 guests. MSC CruisesMSC Orchestra has Shanghai ChineseRestaurant, the only dedicated Chineserestaurant at sea. On Royal CaribbeanInternationals much anticipated Oasisof the Seas debuting in December, Keri-ann Von Raesfeld, an internationallyacclaimed chef, will be heading up 150Central Park, the ships signature restau-rant in the Central Park area. And whenNCLs Norwegian Epic debuts in 2010,she will offer 17 different dining options,including the largest teppanyaki restau-rant at sea. Celebrity Cruises has intro-duced some new restaurants as well,including the Silk Harvest Restaurant,showcasing the exotic tastes of Asia onits Solstice-class ships. An extremelypopular experience that debuted onPrincess Cruises Emerald Princess in2008 is the Chef s Table, a private, be-hind-the-scenes dinner. Available to 10diners per night with a surcharge of $75per person, it is being rolled out acrossthe Princess fleet with a few exceptions.GROUP RESERVATIONSDining for your group can still berequested in advance that really hasntchanged. MSC Cruises ships continueto offer just main and late dining, butwith more lines offering three diningoptions (main, late and a flexible diningtime), its important to find out whatyour group members prefer. Do theywant to dine together all the time, orbreak it up and dine in smaller groups atsome of the alternative restaurants?Policies vary from cruise line to cruiseline, but most do have an option forgroups to reserve dining at a specialtyrestaurant. A critical factor involvesgroup size larger groups might have tosplit up and dine at different times.With Princess Cruises, each group isassigned to a group onboard service co-ordinator who sends information out(to the booking agent) covering on-board venue options about four monthsprior to the sailing date. The coordina-tor then handles any special onboardrequests for the group, includingpre-arranging reservations for any of therestaurants. Holland America groups,depending on the size, can set up andmake advance reservations at an alterna-tive restaurant. Group reservations forMSC Cruises specialty restaurants arehandled through the operations man-ager. Carnival Cruise Lines will takeadvance reservations for groups at thesupper clubs, but there are waves ofguests, spaced 15 minutes apart. Soyour group members would have to beassigned this way.With all the options now available,your group can enjoy the latest waves inthe evolution of shipboard dining.A New Generation of Shipboard DiningMore choices in dining styles and timesgives cruise groups an ocean of optionsCindy Bertram has 15+ years of cruise expertisein sales, marketing and training, with an MBA fromLoyola University Chicago. She can be contactedat cindy@ptmgroups.com10 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comwww.ustours.biz 888-393-8687Come plan a Wild and Wonderful Summer. Enjoy our green forests crossedby whitewater and steam locomotives, enjoy evenings filled with cool musicand simple pleasures.Save $25 per person on any 3 or 4 day West Virginia Summer Tour scheduled between July 5 and Aug. 27, 2010. Thats a cool $1,000 if youhave a group of 40, and order by Dec. 1, 2009.CCCCOOOOOOOOLLLL SSSSUUUUMMMMMMMMEEEERRRR SSSSAAAALLLLEEEESSSSAAAAVVVVEEEE AAAA TTTTHHHHOOOOUUUUSSSSAAAANNNNDDDD BBBBUUUUCCCCKKKKSSSSOONN AA VVERYERY COOL TCOOL TOUROUR!!Life is old here, Life is old here, older than the treesolder than the treesYounger than the mountains, Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breezeblowing like a breezeCountry Roads...Country Roads...Get Your Tickets NOW!on student travel This December, PremierTourism marketing (parent companyof Leisure Group Travel magazine)launches Student Travel PlanningGuide, a comprehensive how-to re-source for planning student/youthtrips. The Planning Guide assists buy-ers in a variety of facets related to plan-ning and executing a successful youthtrip. chapters include: First Decisions developing a purpose& objective of your trip creating a Timeline - what needs tohappen when (pre-trip) choosing Destinations and Travel Date setting budgets & Fundraising efforts how to Work with student Tour& receptive Operators Working with hotels meals & entertainment Transportation solutions student cruises Negotiating with Vendors etiquette and Discipline while traveling chaperones developing guidelinesand a sense of cooperation Travel insurance + safety & security rules of the road Post-trip evaluation/Next TripPlanningTeachers, tour operators, travel agentsand other readers will find the guide tobe a gold mine of practical tips. The fol-lowing preview touches on just a few ofthe subjects covered.WOrKiNG WiThTOUr PrOViDersThe section on working with stu-dent tour providers stresses that regularcommunication with the tour operatorby telephone or email, at least bi-weekly, is important because it willdiffuse potential problems and clarifyquestions. Teacher group leaders,according to the student PlanningGuide, should let the provider knowtheir most important considerationsafter contracting with the tour provider.examples include: specific flight patterns (longer orshorter layovers) Location of hotels (within the citiesor outside of urban areas) meal upgrades (may increase theper-person price of the tour) Participants traveling from gatewaysother than the groupmatters on paperwork requestedby the tour provider revolve around keep-ing up with deadlines, which include: Any liability contracts or agree-ments to act as a group leader Gathering of student informationsuch as passport data creation of an emergency calling tree reminding participants and parentsof payment schedules enrolling participants on optionaltour excursions matching passport names withnames on the trip rosterThe final point is highly critical, theguide explains, because there can be nodifference between the name on theproviders roster and the name in thepassport. correcting this in the daysbefore departure can cost hundredsof dollars.TOUr hOTeLsThe student Travel PlanningGuides section on tour hotels suggeststhat quality and price can vary consid-erably and will be in line with theoverall cost of the student tour. stu-dents are generally lodged three orfour to a room; adults are placed twoto a room. most hotels on studenttours will be two or three stars, but itis not uncommon for groups to belodged in a more expensive hotel.Group leaders with specific requestsshould make those known to tourproviders months in advance.Questions regarding hotels shouldinclude: is the hotel in the city if not, how far from the inner city isthe hotel has this particular hotel been usedby the tour provider before if breakfast is included, is it conti-nental, buffet, or a full, hot breakfast if in the city, is the neighborhoodsafe is there internet access Does the hotel maintain independ-ent security Are the guest rooms furnished withmini-barsGroups with alcohol policies mustNew Guide Will Aid Student Travel Planners12 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comGroup leaders need to do their homeworkand keep up with pre-trip deadlinesadvise the tour provider and on-sitetour directors to avoid student use ofmini-bars. even if no alcoholic bever-ages are in these refrigerators, the priceson everything from sparkling water tocoke are highly inflated. some mini-bars can be locked by hotel staff. Thosethat cannot be locked must be manuallydivested of alcohol, but this may entailan additional charge for the room.Among the planning guides tips onchecking in to a hotel: Prepare rooming lists ahead of arrival Give each student a hotel businesscard in the event they get lost while inthe city Look over the neighborhood beforeallowing students to leave the hotel dur-ing free time Let students know where breakfastwill be served The on-site tour director will postthe daily itinerary in the hotel lobby;students should know where this is. hold a brief meeting that reempha-sizes hotel behavior Advise against using in-room tele-phone servicereaders also are advised about themost common hotel problems involvingstudent groups. They include: students congregating in the hotelhalls and disturbing other guests slamming of room doors excessive noise from student roomsafter curfew students missing breakfast andwanting to eat on the coach Taking food from the breakfastroom to use for lunch Leaving rooms in disarray and fail-ing to dispose of garbage properlyTeachers can get a good overview ofassigned hotels by looking over the hotelweb page and reading reviews of thehotel by other patrons. it is also helpfulto ask the tour provider to provide theCall 866 868-7774 (866 Tours SI) or visit www.si.edu/group_tours &AXs%MAILGROUPSALES SIEDU/URGROUPSALESTEAMcan help plan your next 3MITHSONIANADVENTUREs $ISCOUNTSON)-!8AND %INSTEIN0LANETARIUMTICKETSs $ININGPACKAGESATSEVERAL 3MITHSONIANRESTAURANTSs %DUCATOR'UIDESAND3/,S AVAILABLEFORMOSTFILMSs #OMEEARLYANDAVOID THECROWDSWITHOURSPECIAL )-!8ON$EMAND SCREENINGS%XCLUSIVELYFORGROUPSOFORMORE on Demand!9OUPICKTHEFILMFORTHESESPECIALMORNINGSCREENINGSLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 13names of other group leaders who stayedin that particular hotel.chOOsiNG chAPerONeschoice of adult chaperones is anotherkey to a successful student trip. moststudent tour providers offer free spotsthat are based on the number of payingparticipants. This ratio is usually 1-6 butcan vary depending on the tourprovider. While chaperoning a studenttour is an attractive proposition, chap-erones should realize that this is not afree vacation.All chaperones should have some ex-perience with students either as teachers,school administrators, or some other ed-ucational, professional venue. initial re-cruiting should include the following: Ability to attend all meetings beforethe tour Assist with documentation such asobtaining passports and visas Prepared to spend money on itemsnot covered in the free spot such aslunches or beverages Ability to chaperone small groups of students on flights if the departureand/or return flights are splitThe student Planning Guide pointsout that it is best to avoid chaperoneswho are family members of the teachergroup-leader, parents of student partic-ipants, spouses of chaperones and olderstudents who may be school alumni.Any adults involved in leading orchaperoning a student tour must be pre-pared to be on call at any hour. if thereare a number of chaperones, it is helpfulto divide responsibilities and give eachchaperone at least one night off duringthe tour. Duties on tour will include: responsibility for small studentgroups throughout the tour Assisting with student discipline helping to facilitate curfews androom-checks at night staying behind if a student is too illto participate in the activities on anyparticular day Accompanying a student home ifsevere illness or disciplinary problemswarrant such last resort actions monitoring students during theirfree time Willingness to accompany studentson free day excursionson student travel 14 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comONLiNe resOUrcesAlongside the Planning Guide, Premier is also relaunching two com-plementary products for the market.StudentTravelDirectory.com containsthe most comprehensive directory resource for the student travel markettoday. With listings and links to thou-sands of student/youth friendly desti-nations and businesses, its designedto be the premier research tool for the market. Additionally, InSite onStudent Travel is a monthly e-maga-zine, debuting in January 2010. insitetakes its cue from the firms popular insite on Leisure Group Travel e-maga-zine for the group tour & travel market,with a regular dose of ideas, inspiration,best practices and new destinations. For more information, visitwww.studentTravelDirectory.com. BMP / PHOTO BY JAMES PORTOCREATIVITY INSPIRESBlue Man Group will engage and motivate your students through an unforgettable stage event that combines theatre, music, art, science and technology. This unique theatrical experience is a form of entertainment like nothing else, guaranteed to be an outing that your student group will never forget. Visit BLUEMAN.COM/EDUCATION for more information.Group & FIT Priority Ticketing s Expert Sales Consultants s Educational Materials1.800.BLUEMAN | BLUEMAN.COMNEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO LAS VEGAS ORLANDO on adventure travel jim forbergTHE DAYS WHENTHE phrase ad-venture travel brought to mind imagesof rock climbers hanging from a ledgeby their fingertips are long gone. Today,more travelers of all ages are adding ac-tive and experiential elements to theirvacations and becoming adventurers. Infact, adventure travel has become thefastest-growing segment of travel andtourism globally.From scuba diving in the Caribbeanto riding a zipline through the treetopsin Costa Rica to rediscovering onesroots on a heritage-based journey, ad-venture travelers want experiences thatare memorable. With time seen as thenew luxury, adventure travelers are look-ing for a vacation of a lifetime everytime. Adventurers seek travel optionsthat challenge them physically, spiritu-ally or intellectually and allow them achance to reassess and reflect on theirlives at a time when most are beingasked to do more with less.A walking tour through Irelandmight be one persons adventure whileexploring the rainforest in Belize mightbe anothers. For me, it was a 10-daybike tour through Tuscany with a rep-utable tour operator. My adventure wasa perfect blend of biking through thebeautiful hills on the coast, visits to his-toric sites and unmatched local cuisine.With four-star accommodations, cook-ing classes and time for relaxing by thepool, I believed it couldnt get any bet-ter. Well, little did I expect to be in Italyat the very time the country claimed aWorld Cup victory. Standing side byside with the locals in their celebration isindescribable and a memory that willstay with me forever.ENRICHING EXPERIENCESThe common thread among adven-ture travelers is their desire to immersethemselves in an experience that allowsthem to connect with their inner being,explore their interests and enrich theirlives. Whats more they look to sharetheir travel experiences much likeothers might display their possessions.The term ego-tourism has recentlysurfaced, with the best travel experi-ences at the center of the discussion.Its no surprise that even with thecurrent economic downturn, adventuretravel has been among one of thefew travel segments that has held upremarkably well. Adventure travelersvalue travel as part of their lives to sucha degree that they are willing to sacrificeother things before cutting out a vaca-tion. That being said, current economicconditions will affect how and wherethese travelers will take their vacations.In a recent survey conducted byAdventures in Travel Expo, 76 percentof respondents indicated that theywere more likely to take less expensivevacations, with 64 percent lookingfor better travel deals to help financetheir vacations. With long-haul inter-national travel now value-priced likenever before, there is a chance formany consumers to visit places thatwere not within their reach just a fewyears ago.Consumer trends continue to bodewell for adventure travel according toa survey completed by the AdventureTravel Trade Association (ATTA). As anexample, there is a trend towards an in-crease in family adventures, women-onlytrips and theme travel (e.g. culinary,wine, archaeological, sport). Adventuretravelers have shortened the time be-Consumer Trends Bode Wellfor Adventure Travel NicheEven in this economic downturn, theadventure travel outlook appears bright16 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comEuropeAustralia/New Zealand/South PacificCaribbeanAfricaU.S. Alaska/HawaiiAsia/Southeast AsiaSouth AmericaU.S. MainlandCentral AmericaMexicoTop destinations identified by active and adventuretravelers include: Source: Unicomm, 2009Jim Forberg is the COO of Unicomm, organizers ofAdventures in Travel Expo and Los Angeles TimesTravel & Adventure Show the nations largest series of travel events. He led the team that cre-ated the Green Travel Summit, which successfullylaunched this past March to focus on the busi-ness of responsible travel with co-sponsor NBTA.Contact Jim at 203-878-2577, adventureexpo.com.tween booking and actual travel and arecutting the lengths of their trips slightlyto realize cost savings. Clearly, the affluent and adventuretravel segment appears well positionedfor continued growth, especially in the35-65-years-of-age demographic.Whether you are a bird-watcher orboogie-boarder, go find your next greatvacation and make it memorable. In the words of author Henry DavidThoreau: We should come home fromadventures, and perils, and discoveriesevery day with new experience andcharacter.LeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 1718 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comUNPRECEDENTED SOCIETAL,economic, climatological and geopoliti-cal shifts, paired with higher threats ofpandemics and other crises, have con-tributed to equally impressive changes intraveler preferences, seeminglyovernight. For leisure group travel ex-perts operators and travel agents inparticular altering perspectives toadapt to the new operating environmentand morphing consumer interests takeson new meaning. Its not just an option,but a necessity to survive and thrive.Adventure travel has emerged as oneof the more vibrant sectors, one thatmainstream leisure travel is monitoringto better serve the maturing preferencesof more enlightened travelers. Adventuretravel is one niche that for decades hasserved the unique traveler and weath-ered and rebounded well from scores ofvolatile periods. Its an innovative sectorthat has spearheaded global conservationefforts, pioneered sustainable tourism,helped to alleviate poverty in rural areasworldwide, enhanced cultural immer-sion and understanding, and has createdexperiences for travelers that led to thepopular distinction between touristsand travelers.The global Adventure Travel TradeAssociation (ATTA) will host its 2009Adventure Travel World Summit fromOct. 19-22 at the Fairmont Le ManoirRichelieu in Charlevoix, Quebec. Leisuregroup travel experts interested in engag-ing more directly in the adventure travelsector will have the opportunity to con-nect with industry veterans who willconvene by the hundreds to address theimpact of issues that are influencingchanges in tourism.ATTAs Summit is considered bymany to be the event of the year forthe global adventure travel market. Itsannual conference attracts the whos whoof the industry. The emphasis is on net-working, business and professional devel-opment, and education and itsorganizers strive for intensive delegate in-volvement. Topics range from sustain-ability and social media collaboration tostandards and best practices and collabo-ration between travel agents and adven-ture travel operators. Sitting quietly inthe audience is seldom an option as ses-sions encourage delegate interaction.Adventure Travel Summit in Quebec toOffer Insights on Leisure Group Sector on adventure travel Four-wheeling enthusiasts enjoy the Hells Revenge Trail during Moab,Utahs annual Easter Jeep Safari.Moab Area Travel CouncilLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 19ATTA draws not only upon travel indus-try experts for the event but introducesinsights from non-endemic sources,lending perspectives from an array offields that allow a steady stream of newthought to permeate the market.Seattle-based ATTA (adventure-travel.biz) is a global membership organ-ization dedicated to unifying,networking, professionalizing, promot-ing and responsibly growing the adven-ture travel market. Its members includetour operators, destination marketingorganizations, tourism boards, specialtytravel agents, guides, accommodations,media and service providers. And whileleisure group travel has not been empha-sized in the association, ATTA graduallyhas begun to receive overtures fromthose interested in exploring more directengagement in the adventure travel sec-tor. Its Summit is the perfect venue toinitiate such discussions.Despite economic realities, theresbeen a surge of momentum in supportfor the fall 2009 Summit. In fact, the as-sociation has fielded an increasing num-ber of adjacency meetings and eventsrequests from groups that want to tapinto the energy generated by the Sum-mit. New special guests, sponsorshipsand activities are helping to drive thesurge. Meetings and events that will co-incide with this years Summit include: TIES The International Eco-tourism Society will co-lead this yearssustainability topics alongside theATTA, bringing with them conservationexperts from the ecotourism sector. ISO Adventure Tourism WorkingGroup (ISO TC 228) The first meet-ing of this newly formed (Aug. 22,2009) standards organization will fea-ture leadership and risk management ex-perts from around the world. VAST Virtuoso Active & SpecialtyTravel, which is bringing some of theindustrys top specialty travel agents tothe Summit Association Partners ATTA part-ner associations such as Brazils ABETA,Mexicos AMTAVE and other adven-ture and ecotourism associations willparticipate. Trusted Adventures This alliance ofhighly respected, smaller, owner-in-volved companies will be in full force atthe Summit.The list of dignitaries, featured speak-ers, special guests and influencers isgrowing. Heres just a glimpse of thenew voices youll hear: Daniel Gauthier One of the worldstop minds in the world of entertainment,he is the co-founder of Cirque de Soleil. Hubert Reeves Famed astrophysicistwho brings cosmology (and conserva-tion) to the masses David OConnor President, Aid to Artisans, 30+-year innovator of ef-forts to preserve handmade traditionsworldwide Hitesh Mehta Eco-architect andsustainable tourism pioneer and one ofthe 25 Most Powerful People in Adven-ture Michael Brown Acclaimed, EmmyAward-winning filmmaker and pioneerin adventure filmmaking Jeff Dossett Top 50 digital executiveleading new media thought Dr. Wallace J. Nichols Leadingocean conservationistFor the leisure group travel market,ATTAs 2009 Adventure Travel WorldSummit offers those new to adventuretravel an intensive, four-day immersionthat will leave delegates transformed.Additional background on the Summitagenda, special activities, a list of pre-registered delegates, attending press, andinformation about the growing list ofSummit contributors is available at ad-venturetravelworldsummit.com.on europe: randy mink and jeff gaydukLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 21The forecast for American travelto Europe next year is not exactlyrosy in some quarters of the in-dustry, but tour operators and nationaltourism office representatives are cau-tiously optimistic about a rebound andbelieve the worst may be over.Michael Gigl, director of the Aus-trian National Tourist Office, NorthAmerica, said, I dont expect things toimprove rapidly, but I think weve seenthe bottom.Citing a downturn of 10 to 15 per-cent in the first part of 2009, he said thedrop in American tourists to Austriahas been gradually leveling off, withnumbers down only three percent inJuly. Gigl said hes hoping 2010 willbring a double-digit increase over 2009.Mike Schields, director of groupsales and emerging markets for GlobusFamily of Brands, views 2010 with op-timism, noting that booking volume isup 30-40 percent over 2009 levels.Deposits are up 100 percent, whichindicates buyers are more serious andhave sat on the sidelines long enough.They have sacrificed their vacations in2009 and are jumping back into themarket.Schields said Europe in 2010 will begenerally less expensive than in 2009 be-cause of the dollars improving strengthagainst the pound and euro, and a softtravel environment accounts for more fa-vorable rates from suppliers.Because ofthe fixed cost of cruising,GlobusAvalonWaterways river cruise division is lead-ing the recovery. France, Spain andOberammergau also are selling well.Tommy Ryder, head of the groupsdepartment at Travel Bound, said,Industry pros share their views on how transatlantic travel is shaping up as the global economy continues to struggle2 0 1 0 EUROPE OUTLOOK Medieval towns like Quedlinburg, Germany, captivate American tourists in search of storybook charm.Michael GiglGerman National Tourist Board/Keute, Jochenon europe 22 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comBookings for 2010 are already higherthan those for 2009. Europe is still our#1 destination, and there the strongseller is Oberammergau, which startedslowly but is gaining momentum.Ryder said group travel to Italy is re-bounding for 2010, and we are alsoseeing much more interest in Spainthan previously. France and the UKcontinue to be popular destinations forgroup travel, he added, and bookingsfor Greece are on the rise, particularlypre-/post-cruise.SPAIN SNAPSHOTPatricia Wood Winn, public rela-tions manager of the Tourist Office ofSpain in Chicago, said supplier feed-back indicates an upturn in Americanvisitors for 2010, with group cruisesinto Barcelona a big seller.Spurring travel to Spain, she said,will be Holy Year celebrations in Santi-ago de Compostela, an important reli-gious pilgrimage destination.The citysornate cathedral is home to the reputedrelics of St. James the Greater and at-tracts an annual average of 2.5 millionvisitors, a figure expected to quadruplein 2010, decreed by the Pope to be a Ju-bilee Year because the feast day of St.James falls on a Sunday ( July 25).Thanks to a dip in hotel pricescaused by a rash of new hotels thatneed to be filled, Spain is doing well incomparison to other destinations, saidMorris Stroz, president of Travel Pri-orities in Skokie, Ill. Spain is still a bar-gain. The hotel rates in Barcelona arethe lowest Ive ever seen.Besides Spain, Travel Priorities sellstrips to Eastern Europe, Italy, Englandand France. Stroz said lower hotel ratesin Italy and a better exchange rateagainst the British pound are promisingsigns. Travel Priorities handles many re-peat groups and maintains a diversifiedclient base, from medical to student, butgroup sizes are smaller in 2009 thanthey were last year, Stroz said. Its hardto predict what 2010 will bring, he said,because theres a lot of last-minutestuffpeople dont think ahead of time.It just doesnt work like that anymore.Nigel Osborne, president of VirginVacations USA, also reports late com-mitments as people are keeping moneyclose to the vest. He said enquiries areup 30 percent over last year, but a lot ofthese are shoppers. Trips are slightlyshorter, averaging 10 days instead of 12or 14. With tour prices in some caseslower than a decade ago, now is thetime to travel, Osborne said. He notedthat Virgins 2009 six-night LondonFling is only $669, compared to $939for its six-night London Jaunt in1998. Good deals are also available inFrance, Ireland, Central Europe, Spainand Greece, Osborne said.BRITAIN BOUNDPaul McDonagh, business develop-ment executive at VisitBritain in NewYork, is optimistic about a rebound forAmerican travel to Britain in 2010 andsees things picking up. I hope theworst is behind us.McDonagh said VisitBritain worksclosely with group operators and men-tioned religious travel as a new areaweve been developing since last year.He said attending the first World Reli-gious Travel Expo in Orlando last yearwith such partners as Visit Scotland,Canterbury Cathedral and St. PaulsCathedral (celebrating its 300th an-niversary in 2010) was good for us.McDonagh looks forward to evenmore networking opportunities thisNovember in Reno when the secondreligious expo is held in conjunctionwith the NTA convention.Britain is also going after the adulteducational market, targeting universityalumni groups and organizations likeSmithsonian and Elderhostel. McDon-agh said the annual Travelearning.orgconference, set for February in Provi-dence, R.I., will provide a platform forsuppliers to meet with tour planners. The outlook for U.S. traffic to theisland of Cyprus next year lookspromising, according to Tasoula Ma-naridis, director of the Cyprus TourismOrganization in New York. In 2010we will be celebrating the 50th an-niversary of Cyprus independence.Paul McDonaghMike SchieldsMany important events, such as concerts,exhibitions, theater performances andfestivals, will take place all over the islandthe whole year.Manaridis said more tour operatorsare including Cyprus in their programs,noting that Central Holidays andGroup IST, a major religious tour oper-ator, have recently printed brochuresdedicated to Cyprus.Dan Sullivan,president of Collette Va-cations, said, We have seen a surge for2010. With booking incentives in place,we are up over 57 percent in group reser-vations across the board.The economy willbe better, but not robust, at least throughthe first quarter of 2010.Sullivan said Collettes new Dis-cover Tuscany in February is doingwell, as is Explorations by Collette, thesmall-group division (16-24 passen-gers). He also is bullish on the bankmarket and the religious sector, particu-larly to Oberammergau.PASSION PLAYSCENARIOSGermany, Austria, Switzerland andother Central European countries ex-pect a significant tourism boost fromthe once-a-decade Passion Play in theBavarian village of Oberammergau.Themonumental event will be staged fromMay 15 to Oct. 3.Ricarda Lindner, regional manager ofthe Americas for the German NationalTourist Office, said, The Passion Playwill be a huge part of the overall groupscoming to Germany in 2010. The play isa great opportunity to showcase Ger-many.Therefore, we have incorporatedit in all our activities and communicationchannels in 2009.Lindner said she is optimistic about anincrease in U.S. tourists in 2010 and pointsout two other major eventsthe 200thanniversary of Oktoberfest in Munich andEuropean Capital of Culture festivities inthe Ruhr region of Western Germany. Mirko Capodanno, Central USA &Canada manager of the Swiss NationalTourist Office, said, Of course, Oberam-mergau is important for us, noting thatSwitzerland is only twohours away. Capodannosaid Switzerland has re-cently seen an increase inU.S. travelers after a de-cline since fall of 2008. Ihave seen that peopletend to book more all-in-clusive packages, wherethey can better foreseetravel expenses. Thisclearly speaks well forgroup travel.From bargains inSpain to special eventsin Germany, opportuni-ties abound for grouptravel planners with Eu-rope on their radar in2010. Slowly improvingeconomic conditions,combined with pent-updemand for a Europeanvacation, may well giveus something to cheerabout. LGTFirst faith-basedincoming agency in GermanyBiblical Tours Stuttgart GermanyFon 0049 711/61925-27 Fax -827E-Mail: incoming@biblische-reisen.dewww.biblical-tours.com OberammergauAre you looking for a reliable partnerfor your trip to Germany and Europe? We are specialised in: Martin Luther and Reformation Passion Play Oberammergau Art & Literary study tours Choir & Music toursWe are related to the Catholic andProtestant Church.Tasoula ManaridisLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 23advertorialA s one of the most affordabledestinations in Europe, Ger-many offers outstanding valuefor the dollar. Luxury hotels in Ger-manys buzzing cities, sleek spas,Michelin-starred restaurants, local hotspots, and even overnights in castlehotels can be booked for less than$100. From the wide variety of ac-commodations to the multitude of freeand/or low cost attractions and sight-seeing to affordable dining, Germanyoffers something to suit every tasteand budget.Year-round, Germanys event calendar is brimming with high-qual-ity concerts, art exhibitions, festivals,and fairs. In 2009 we are celebratingtwo major anniversaries: The 20-year celebration of the Fall of theBerlin Wall and the 90th anniver-sary of Bauhaus in Weimar. In2010, the Passion Play in Ober-ammergau will command centerstage followed by the celebrationof Essen and the Ruhr area as theEuropean Capital of Culture, the200th anniversary of Oktoberfest,300 years of Meissen porcelainand Schumanns 200th anniver-sary, to name a few.The Passion Playproduction in Oberam-mergau dates back to1633 when a plagueepidemic raged in thelittle town in upperBavaria during theThirty Years War. Inorder to spare them-selves from the devas-tation of the plague, thesurviving population ofOberammergau beggedfor mercy from Godand solemnly swore to perform thePassion Play depicting the life anddeath of Jesus Christ every ten years.In 2010, the play takes place for the41st time; in the Passion Play The-ater with a capacity of 4,800 guests.The event is a huge community effort:To take part in the production, youmust have been born in Ober-ammergau or have lived therefor at least 20 years. The Pas-sion Play will be performedevery Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday from May15 Oct. 3, with the first partbeginning in the afternoon andthe second part in the eveninghours. Oberammergau is alsofamous for its traditional art ofwoodcarving, with religious figures and Nativity scenes on display from many centuries.About 120 wood sculptors workin Oberammergau, selling carv-ings which range from religiousfigurines to household goods.The towns Lftlmalerei, or wall paintings, have also contributed to its popularity.For more information on accommodations, events,transportation and travel tips in Germany, please visitwww.cometogermany.com.Destination Germany. Great deals. Easy booking.24 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comScene from the Passion Play 2000 in OberammergauDresden: view of the city Community of Oberammergau, Passion Play Office DZT/Jochen KeuteBerlin: Potsdamer Platz DZT/Gianluca SantoniA group vacation to Germany with the Globus family of brands always ends in a collective smile. From Berlin to Munich and from Oberammergau to Oktoberfest, we have enriching journeys that will immerse your group in German culture. Whether sightseeing is on the agenda or bonding together takes precedence, your groups can have it all at a price they can a ord. To arrange a group vacation with us call 866.821.2752. GLOBUSGERMANY HIGHLIGHTSPLUS OBERAMMERGAU10 Days, $2,838 land only*Frankfurt, Cologne, Berlin,Nuremberg, Munich,Oberammergau, Black Forest MONOGRAMSMUNICH & BERLIN7 Days, $1,664 land only*COSMOSHIGHLIGHTS OF GERMANY12 Days, $1,459 land only*Frankfurt, Cologne, Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Munich, Black Forest AreaAVALON WATERWAYSROMANTIC RHINE8 days, $2,099 land/cruise only*Seven-night Rhine cruise with included excursion to Heidelberg, Germany888(-0#64'".*-:(30614$0.*All prices quoted are per person, land only, double occupancy. Air-inclusive pricing is available. Additional restrictions may apply.YldYf]YbWYgYldYf]YbWYgYldYf]YbWYgVimVimVimaYgaYf]n]b[aYgaYf]n]b[aYgaYf]n]b[]bVi`_"]bVi`_"]bVi`_"on location: northeast randy mink26 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comFor travelers seeking simple pleas-ures and hometown comforts,Ver-mont is as inviting as a stack of warmfluffy pancakes drenched in maplesyrup, the real stuff found in every giftshop and general store in the GreenMountain State. Pure maple is the onlykind I buy and always brings back sweetmemories of this delicious slice of NewEngland.With tour operators from aroundthe country, I recently sampled a smor-gasbord of attractions on awhirlwind fam sponsored byVermont Tourism Network.Our favorite stops werefood stores that double astourist attractions. Groups likenothing better than eating andshopping, so such places asVermont Country Store, ColdHollow Cider Mill, Ben &Jerrys, Morse Farm MapleSugarworks and CabotCreamery are smart choices foritinerary planners.Many storesoffer abundant free samples in hopes ofselling their Vermont-made goodies tothe nibblers and noshers who comethrough their doors.Most have demon-strations, videos, tours or exhibits thatshow how the foods are made.Filling up on free cheese, crackers,cookies and candy,however,means thatoverzealous grazers may not be hungryat meal times, so tour members shouldbe advised to pace themselves.Famous for cows, red barns, whitechurch steeples and glorious fall foliage,Vermont has the image of being old-fashioned and out of the mainstream, arural backwater with quaint villages andMain Street charm. Thats fine withme. I bought a Vermont T-shirt thatsays What happens here, stays here.But nothing ever really happens.Crowd-pleasing attractions satisfy the appetites and curiosity of groupstouring the statescozy villages andrural hamletsSamplingFlaming fall foliage dapples the postcard-perfect Vermont countryside.Harvest-season visitors to Billings Farm &Museum examine a display of apple varieties. VermontState of Vermont/Dennis CurranYet the growth in niche farming en-terprises and artisan products has putVermont on the cutting edge of culinarytrends. And the state is at the forefrontof social thought, green technology andcivilized living in general.Roadside bill-boards have been banned since 1969.In Burlington,Vermonts largest city(pop.39,000),our groupmade a beelineto the Lake Champlain Chocolatesfactory store.We had just eaten break-fast, but that didnt stop us from sam-pling the freshly made, all-natural,preservative-free truffles produced formore than two decades and sold na-tionwide by this artisan chocolatier.Fla-vors range from the signature maplecrunch and evergreen mint to the moreunusual mol, lemon ginger and rasp-berry pink peppercorn. Tour memberscan watch the gourmet confectionsmade before their eyes, view the frombean to chocolate to youvideo and saveon factory seconds. The company alsohas a store at Church Street Market-place, a lively pedestrian mall in down-town Burlington.Four cruise operators in Burlingtonoffer excursions on Lake Champlain,the nations sixth largest lake (after thefive Great Lakes). The Spirit of EthanAllen III, the largest tour boat, hassightseeing, lunch and dinner cruises. Groups with culinary interests maywant to consider cooking classes at TheEssex, Vermonts Culinary Resort &Spa. Formerly known as The Inn atEssex, the Burlington-area resort hostsclasses in partnership with the NewEngland Culinary Institute. South of Burlington is an attractionthat merits a half day. Shelburne Mu-seum, spread across 45 bucolic acres,houses an eclectic collection of Amer-icana in 39 exhibition buildings, manyof them historic structures trans-planted from other locations. Perhapsmost impressive is the 220-foot luxurysteamboat Ticonderoga, which onceplied Lake Champlain. It was movedhere in the 1950s on a specially builtrailroad track.Just the thought of visiting DakinFarm, the name of a store in Ferris-burgh, makes me drool. Theyre famousfor hams and bacon smoked over smol-dering corn cobs and cured with a touchof maple syrup. Besides sampling themeats, cheeses, mustards and syrups,visitors can see workers glazing thehams, tour the smokehouse and syrupcannery, and try sugar-on-snow, amixture of maple syrup and crunchysnow. Dont leave without posing out-side by a larger-than-life jug of DakinFarm maple syrup. Our group also satisfied its sweettooth while learning about the syrup-making process at New England MapleMuseum in Pittsford, which has thelargest collection of maple sugaring arti-facts anywhere, and Morse Farm MapleSugarworks in Montpelier, the capitalof Vermont. The Waterbury area in Central Ver-mont makes a good base of operationsfor visits to destination stores that offertours and generous tastings. At ColdHollow Cider Mill, New EnglandsPancakes with Dakin Farm maplesyrup taste as good as they look.Shelburne Museum displays this 1871 Lake Champlain lighthouse.Shelburne MuseumLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 27largest producer of apple cider, groupscan see the cider press in operation dur-ing the fall production season. The storegets 300,000 visitors a year and as manyas 25 buses a day. Its hard to leave ColdHollow without getting a cider donutfor the road. Just down Waterbury-Stowe Road(Route 100, the most traveled stretch ofroad in the state) is Ben & Jerrys IceCream Factory, one of Vermonts sig-nature attractions. Looking through awindow onto the factory floor, we sawthem making Brownie ChocolateChunk and Cinnamon Bun. After the30-minute tour, which explains howchildhood friends Ben Cohen and JerryGreenfield turned a $5 correspondencecourse in ice cream making into aglobal phenomenon, guests sample theflavor of the day. Cabot Creamery, which claims tomake the Worlds Best Cheddar, hasan annex store on Route 100 betweenCold Hollow and Ben & Jerrys.Groups can see how cheddar is madeon the factory tour in Cabot.The 1875 train station in Waterburyis home to the visitor center of GreenMountain Coffee. Through exhibitsand videos, groups can view the coffee-making process from tree to cup. Cof-fee samplings for groups ($2 perperson) include a roasting demonstra-tion and packet of coffee. In the idyllic town of Woodstock isBillings Farm & Museum, a modeldairy farm that dates back to 1871.Groups can see the Jersey cows, viewthe afternoon milking operation, tourthe 1890 farmhouse and have ice cream.The first-rate attraction operates inpartnership with the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park,where mansion and garden tours areavailable. Vermont is all about nostalgia, so theOrton familys Vermont Country Storeon location: northeast "RINGTHEWHOLEHERD4OURS$AILY3COOP3HOP'IFT3HOP7ATERBURY3TOWE2D7ATERBURY64MILENORTHOFFOF%XITON)'#.,,#8@#JEKHImmm$X[d`[hho$Yec"EN*ERRY S(OMEMADE)NC#OWS7OODY*ACKSON28 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comin Weston enchanted me and otherBaby Boomers in our group. In additionto sampling jellies, cookies and sausage,we found many reminders of our child-hood. The store (Purveyors of thePractical and Hard-to-Find) sellseverything from Lamb Chop puppetsand Bosco chocolate syrup to gumball-filled hula hoops and Fizzies flavoredtablets (awful-tasting stuff I used toplop into a glass of water for an instantsoft drink). Other discoveries includeflutophones, bike horns (the kind yousqueeze) and long-forgotten brands ofcosmetics, soaps and shampoos. In addition to visiting scenic, histor-ical and retail attractions, groups can geta glimpse at little Vermonts industrialmight. In a former marble mill in Proc-tor, just north of Rutland, the VermontMarble Museum offers a 12-minutemovie and more than 100 exhibits thatshed light on the marble industry. TheHall of Presidents features marble bustsof U.S. presidents. Visitors also seecarvers at work, chipping and sandingaway. The quarry itself, still being mined,is a short walk or bus ride away. Items inthe gift shop range from cheese trays androlling pins to chess sets and burial urns. Barre, near Monteplier, is the Gran-ite Capital of the World. Groups atRock of Ages can tour the factory, visitthe quarry and sandblast their own sou-venir at North Americas largest makerof cemetery markers. Granite and marble seem to sym-bolize the bedrock values and solidYankee traditions of Vermont, a cozyplace that charms visitors with its senseof community and Norman Rockwellsimplicity. Change comes slowly toVermont, and thats a good thing. LGTPLAN IT!Vermont Tourism Network:802-863-1122, vermonttourismnetwork.travelVermont Department ofTourism: 800-837-6668, vermontvacation.comLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 29on our radar: northeast MARYLANDThe National Aquarium in Balti-more, one of Marylands most populargroup travel attractions, recently up-dated its dolphin show and introduced a jellies exhibit. Our Ocean Planet: TheNew Dolphin Show explores dolphinsintelligence, agility and power throughnew dynamic behaviors such as under-water flips and favorites like verticalspins. The aquariums sixth dolphinshow is the first to have a strong globalmessage about protecting the environ-ment and the connections between hu-mans and animals. Jellies Invasions:Oceans Out of Balance examines thesetranslucent creatures and the impactocean health has on their success. Theexhibit features as many as nine differ-ent species and shows how they arechanging the balance of the earthsaquatic ecosystems. (aqua.org)MASSACHUSETTSTheMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston(MFA), is undergoing a building projectthat, when completed in late 2010, willhave increased its space by 28 percent.For the first time since the museumsfounding in 1870, the art of North,Central, and South America will be pre-sented together in its own space, theAmerican Wing. The MFA has approxi-mately 15,500 objects in its Americancollection and approximately 5,000 ofthem, or 30 percent, will be on viewwhen the new wing opens. This is morethan double the number of works previ-ously on view. The American Wingsfour levels of galleries will be arrangedchronologically: prehistoric NativeAmerican and pre-Columbian collec-tions on the first level, the Colonial pe-riod on the second level, the 19thcentury on the third level, and 20th cen-tury works in all media on the top level.Completed components of the buildingproject include the renovation of theHuntington Avenue entrance on the Av-enue of the Arts, opened in April 2009,and the opening in June 2008 of boththe State Street Corporation FenwayEntrance and the Jean S. and Frederic A.Sharf Visitor Center. (617-267-9300,mfa.org) NEW YORKLincoln Center plans to open its newvisitors center, The Atrium at LincolnCenter, on Nov. 12. Located adjacentto the performing arts center, the newspace, designed as an urban arts oasis,provides increased access to the iconiccampus and a vibrant neighborhoodgathering place. And for the first timein Lincoln Centers history, the box office will offer day-of discount ticketsto performances across the campus.The visitors center is part of an overall$1.2-billion development project tomodernize and open up the 16-acrecampus and a key element in LincolnCenters 50th anniversary year.The Atrium at Lincoln Center willfeature free performances on Thursdaynights (from dance and jazz to classicaland opera), informal dining, lush 21-foot-high vertical gardens, a floor-to-ceiling fountain and dynamic mediawall with visitor and performance information. The visitors center is alsoa new departure point for tours of thecampus. In addition to the Atriumsnew amenities, resident organizationslike the New York City Ballet, NewYork City Opera, Jazz at Lincoln Center and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts offer exciting seasonswith new commissions and special opportunities and discounts for groupsduring the anniversary celebration.(lincolncenter.org)LGT/09LGT/09LGT/09Only Hot Springs gives you luxury and excitement like this from sunup to well after the sun goes down. Bring your group to the Souths famous Spa City, home of historic Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park. Hit the jackpot at Oaklawn Racing and Gaming now with an all-new gaming center. Shop for art and charming gifts in one-of-a-kind boutiques. Explore all the glories of nature at Garvan Woodland Gardens. Enjoy all of this and a whole lot more in Americas First Resort.For a free Group Tour Planner, call 1-800-922-6478 or visit www.hotsprings.org.LeisureGroupTravel.comon location: south randy minkIf you like it spicy and ricey, the Bayou State is foryou. A fan of fresh seafood? All the better. And ifthe very thought of Southern-fried home cookingspells bliss, youre in the right place.Trying regional foods is half the fun of travel, andfolks have always come to Louisiana to eat, long be-fore culinary travel became a buzz term and the statetourism office concocted a network of culinary trails.A gumbo of exotic flavors spices the Cajun andCreole dishes developed by early settlers from Spain,France, French Canada and other lands. You know themenujambalaya, touffe, boiled shrimp and crawfish, redbeans and rice with spicy andouille sausagethe list goes on. Bea little daringadd a dash of hot sauce to your bowl or sink your teethinto some alligator chunks. Top off the meal with a sugary praline, bread pud-ding or a slice of pecan pie.Cajun food is the earthy, robust creation of fishermen and farmers in thebayou country of Southwest Louisiana. Creole refers to the cosmopolitanfare of New Orleans, a mix of Europe, Africa and the Caribbean. Bothcuisines are exotic to most American palates and use the holy trinity ofseasoningschopped celery, onions and bell peppersblended into a roux,or gravy base.For a taste of Cajun culture, groups cant do better than Lafayette, the un-official capital of French Louisiana. Lafayette claims more locally ownedrestaurants than any other city in the state. Many Grammy Award-winningCajun and Zydeco artists live in Lafayette. Laissez les bons temps rouler (let thegood times roll) at Cajun/Creole eateries like Prejeans, Randols and Mulates,which offer nightly music and dancing.Taste OfSouthern hospitality and foods with funny-soundingnames whet the appetites of groups eager to savor the states culinary cornucopiaLOUISIANALOUISIANAwww.monsoursphotography.comFor a pot of gumbo (top), a chicken and sausage barbecue platter (right) or boiledGulf shrimp, it doesnt get any better than in the Cajunrestaurants of SouthwestLouisiana. LeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 31A favorite group destination inLafayette is Vermilionville, a livinghistory museum dedicated to Cajunand Creole folkways. In original and re-production buildings that portray lifebetween 1765 and 1890, visitors canmingle with artisans, musicians andother interpreters. In the schoolhouse,for example, you learn that speakingFrench was prohibited in Louisianaclassrooms from 1916-1968.Many arearesidents still converse in French athome and with friends.La Cuisine de Maman, the restau-rant at Vermilionville, is modeled aftera Creole plantation overseers house, of-fering local dishes in the main roomand a glassed-in porch overlooking theVermilion Bayou. I enjoyed a bowl ofchicken and sausage gumbo, servedwith rice and French bread. Dessertsinclude bread pudding, fruit cobblerand gateau de sirop (syrup cake), simi-lar in texture to gingerbread.Jean Lafitte Acadian CulturalCenter is conveniently located next toVermilionville. Exhibits and a movieexplain how the French-speaking Aca-dians were deported from Nova Scotiain 1755 and established a new life cen-tered on fishing and hunting in thebayous of Louisiana.South of Lafayette, near New Iberia,lies the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factoryand Jungle Gardens at Avery Island.Tours start with a short video and con-tinue to a viewing gallery that overlooksthe bottling and packaging operations.Guests learn that red peppers arecrushed into a paste with salt from AveryIsland mines and ferment for three yearsin oak barrels. The aged mash is mixedwith vinegar, stirred for a month andpoured into little bottles with the famil-iar red octagonal cap, green foil neck-band and diamond-shaped label. TheTabasco Country Store sells logo items,from neckties to bloody Mary glasses,and offers samples of sauces and dips.A drive through Jungle Gardens, a200-acre wetland preserve, reveals gar-den-covered hills, alligators in bayousand gnarled oaks draped in Spanishmoss. Most memorable are the hun-dreds of snowy egrets that flock to plat-forms at a pond nicknamed Bird City. Other intriguing pockets of CajunCountry are the Lake Charles area,near the Texas border, and Houma, notfar from New Orleans. Both areasfresh new discoveries for meaboundwith swamp-dwelling alligators andeateries specializing in fresh seafood.Lake Charles itself is a busy petro-chemical port with oil and natural gaslines everywhere. At Steamboat Billson the Lake, I tried my first pistolette,a puffy white roll piled with hotshrimp or crawfish sauce and eatenwith a fork. Since the crawfish seasonwas about to end (late May), I wasmoved to order crawfish touffe, abowl of rice covered in a tomato sauceloaded with morsels of these succulentlittle cousins to shrimp (also calledmudbugs or crawdads).Lake Charles serves as a gateway tothe Creole Nature Trail, a 180-mile sce-nic byway through wetlands known asthe Louisiana Outback. Exploring thiswilderness stretching to the Gulf Coast,our tour group visited nature centerson location: south 32 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comTourists linger over beignets and coffee at Caf du Monde in New Orleans.New Orleans Metropolitan CVB/Carl Purcell Oyster shuckers delight lunch-goers at New Orleans Acme Oyster House. New Orleans Metropolitan CVB/Richard NowitzLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 33with boardwalks built over the marshesand stopped at roadside bayous to watchlocals crabbing and casting for shrimp.In Houma, the Heart of AmericasWetland, you sense youre in the realLouisiana. Gliding down a cypress-lined canal on a Munsons SwampTours pontoon boat, we got our fill ofalligators as they slithered behind ourboat and snapped up the chicken ourguide dangled over the side. Enthralledby this wildlife adventure, I chose alli-gator in picante sauce for lunch that dayat BayouDelight restaurant.The zestytomato sauce smothering my plate ofgator chunks and rice was so good thatit almost disguised the meat (slightlyfirmer than chicken).For another typically Houma diningexperience, try 1921 Seafood. Deco-rated with fishnets, stuffed gators andaquariums, its a cement-floor jointwhere you need to roll up your sleevesand use paper towels as you dig intoplatters of boiled crawfish, clams andshrimp. (Groups can arrange a tour atan area shrimp or oyster processingplant.) Work off your meal across thestreet at the Jolly Inn, a dancehall whereCajun and Zydeco bands will get yourfeet tappin.At a downtown Houma festival onthe Terrebonne Parish Courthousesquare, we sampled another Louisianatreatthe sno-ball. Also spelled snow-ball, this refreshing cup of shaved ice(known to many of us as a snow-cone)is generously drenched in a flavoredsyrup and tastes better than any snow-cone youve ever had. Flavors rangefrom coconut cream and strawberrydaiquiri to bubble gum and sour apple.Add condensed milk, cream or icecream, if available. Youll find sno-ballstands, some of them no more thanroadside shacks, all over the state.In Shreveport-Bossier City, billed asLouisianas Other Side, the diningscene reflects influences from neigh-boring Texas and Arkansasthink bar-Cajun dance spots preserve local traditions in Lake Charles, La.www.monsoursphotography.comTranslation: Drop by for a visit. In Cajun country, well make you feel right at home whether you prefer to dance at a festival or catch a sunset over the cypress trees. With Zydeco rhythms, Cajun & Creole flavors, Louisiana scenery and Southern hospitality, youll agree theres no place like Lafayette.becue, fried catfish, country-fried steakand other hearty favorites associatedwith Southern-style cooking. Andthough Northwest Louisiana may behours away from Cajun Country, youwont have trouble finding good seafoodand gumbo either. Its where steak saucemeets hot sauce.I actually had my first Louisianacrawfish at downtown ShreveportsMudbug Madness Festival on Memo-rial Day weekend. Members of our famgroup tackled crawfish dinners completewith red-skin potatoes and corn-on-the-cob, watching to see how the localsextracted the meat from the bony littlecrustaceans boiled in vats with spicy redseasoning. Vendors also offered crawfishpies (turnovers), crawfish pizza and crabpatties in crawfish cream sauce. At thefest I savored pecan pralinesthe bestIve hadmade by Panderina Soumas, aCreole cook, historian and storytellerwho runs Soumas Heritage Creole GiftShop in Bossier City.on location: south Book now! $25 per person*Includes meal, a Mardi Gras T-Shirt, Custom Mardi Gras Bead, and live entertainment.Your senior group tours will never forget this rockin tent party located in Shreveport-Bossier: Louisianas Other Side. Choose from the Krewe of Centaur Mardi Gras Bash or the Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras Bash.Savor authentic Louisiana cuisine, dance to Cajun tunes, see outrageous Mardi Gras personalities, and dont forget to catch some beads! No one will leave empty-handed.Contact Erica Howard at 1-800-551-8682 ext. 104 or ehoward@sbctb.org for group rate information and more details. To learn more about the Shreveport-Bossier area, visit www.shreveport-bossier.orgT he Party Starts HereKrewe of Centaur Mardi Gras ParadeSaturday, February 6, 2010Krewe of Gemini Mardi Gras ParadeSaturday, February 13, 201034 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comSave room for bananas Foster, a signature dessert in New Orleans.New Orleans Metropolitan CVB/Sarah EssexThe next morning we had breakfast atStrawns Eat Shop, the finest greasyspoon you can find. A Shreveport insti-tution since 1944, Strawns original loca-tion on Kings Highway served us fluffy,plate-size pancakes with big pats of but-ter. The biscuits, great with sausage gravy,are to die for. Because Strawns is famousfor pies, we had to have strawberry pie(with homemade whipped cream) fordessert. The Southern-accented lunchmenu includes fried chicken, meatloaf,chicken-fried steak, cornbread, black-eyed peas and mustard greens. Suitablefor groups, the high-ceilinged main roomis adorned with whimsical murals depict-ing the Three Stooges, John Wayne, Mar-ilyn Monroe, presidents and pies. The most memorable overnights onmy recent trip were spent at two planta-tions along the Great River Road. I wasespecially excited because I had touredthe majestic homes on Delta QueenSteamboat shore excursions when thepaddlewheelers offered Mississippi Rivercruises from New Orleans. Nottoway Plantation, a sugar estatedating back to 1859, has taken on aspiffy new look in the past year, the resultof an extensive facelift completed inJune. Chef David Reyes, recruited fromChicago, oversees Ramsays, an elegantbreakfast, lunch and dinner restaurantcarved from the rotunda of the white-pillared mansion, the Souths largest re-maining plantation home. Groups alsocan be accommodated in Randolphs, arestaurant now used for special events.Nottoway, a half hour from BatonRouge, offers 18 guest rooms in themansion and outbuildings. Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie isanother throwback to the Old South, aplace to unwind and go back in time.From my 19th century cottage on thisworking sugar estate, I had the luxury ofprowling the grounds by flashlight, walk-ing under the canopy of massive 300-year-old live oaks that frame the BigHouse, an 1839 beauty that conjures upvisions of Gone With the Wind. While waiting for our hoop-skirtedguide to begin the house tour, we boughtmint juleps from the refreshment standto slake our thirst and get in the mood. Ina covered area across from its gift shopand restaurant, Oak Alley can servegroups a lunch buffet that might includecrawfish touffe, gumbo, jambalaya andbread pudding. Before checking into Oak Alley, wehad lunch at Spuddys Cajun Foods, adown-home diner in the little town ofLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 3536 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comVacherie, right across the street from canefields.Large enough for groups,Spuddysserves everything from fried chicken andfried okra to gumbo, crawfish stew andpotatoes stuffed with shrimp and crab-meat. I had the daily speciala plateheaped with roast chicken, dirty rice,coleslaw and peas. New Orleans is synonymous withgood food, and dining there cannot beoverrated. We were looking for turtle soupand someone recommended MurielsJackson Square, in a former private resi-dence near St. Louis Cathedral. Besidesthe soup and Bananas Foster Strudel atthis contemporary Creole establishment,we enjoyed the views of historic JacksonSquare and clip-clopping horse carriagesthat rolled past our window. Other French Quarter standbys in-clude The Court of Two Sisters, wherea daily jazz brunch affords more than 80different items, from eggs Benedict andspicy oysters Bienville to roast beef andbread pudding. Classic Creole restaurantslike Antoines, Galatoires, Arnauds andTujagues attract devoted followers yearafter year. Dont miss the Cafe du Monde,where patrons at all hours come to peo-ple-watch over caf au lait and beignets,those square French donuts fried tocrusty perfection and generously sprin-kled with powdered sugar. At the nearbyFrench Market, tourist shops sell beignetmix, pralines, seafood seasonings, hotsauces and dozens of other Louisiana-made productsperfect souvenirs of aflavorful trip to this one-of-a-kind state.From mom-and-pop diners and ele-gant eateries to festivals, food factoriesand gift shops, the culinary trails ofLouisiana lead to some of the best eatinanywhere on the planet. LGTPLAN IT!Louisiana Tourism: 800-994-8626; louisianatravel.comon location: south on our radar: south ALABAMAA new museum devoted to baseballsNegro Leagues and Southern League isunder construction in Birmingham,across the street from Rickwood Field,the oldest baseball park in America. TheBlack Barons and later the citys DoubleA farm team, the Barons, played atRickwood Field. A number of baseballgreats graced the field there during itsheyday, including such legends as BabeRuth, Willie Mays and Satchel Paige.The museum is expected to be completeby next summer, in time to help markRickwoods centennial. (rickwood.com)FLORIDAUniversal Orlando Resorts highly anticipated Wizarding World of HarryPotter will open in spring 2010. In-spired by J.K. Rowlings stories andfaithful to the visual landscapes of the films, the new land at Universals Islands of Adventure will provide visi-tors with multiple attractions, shopsand a signature eating establishment.Guests will be able to sip Butterbeer in Three Broomsticks, buy ExtendableEars at Zonkos, see roosting owls inThe Owlery, and ride the DragonChallenge and Flight of the Hippogriffroller coasters. (universalorlando.com)KENTUCKYKentucky Stage, a new summerstock theater group, makes its debut inthe summer of 2010 in Danville. Classicand new works will be presented at theWeisiger Theatre in the Norton Centerfor the Arts on the Centre College cam-pus. (kentuckystage.org/plan.html)Eddie Montgomerys Steakhouseopens this fall at Skylars Landing, anew development in Harrodsburg thateventually will include a hotel, outdooramphitheater and family-focused attrac-tions. The log-structured restaurant willfeature stone fireplaces, waterfalls and astage showcasing country music artists.(eddiemontgomerysteakhouse.com)LOUISIANA Three new venues will open Nov. 6-8during a star-studded weekend at theNational World War II Museum inNew Orleans, marking the first phase of a $300-million expansion to be com-pleted by 2015.The 250-seat VictoryTheater will be home to Beyond AllBoundaries, a multi-sensory cinematicexperience. Using an array of special effects, rare archival footage, voices ofHollywood stars and an advanced for-mat 4-D technology, it will provide animmersive journey that spans the globalscope of World War II, from the bomb-ing of Pearl Harbor to epic battles andfinal victory. Audiences will feel the tanktreads rumbling across North Africasdeserts, brush snow from their cheeksduring the Battle of the Bulge and flinchas anti-aircraft fire tries to bring downtheir B-17 on a bombing run over NaziGermany. Some of the life-sized propswill rise from the floor or descend fromthe ceiling.The museums Stage Door Canteenwill be a sentimental tribute to 1940sentertainers who boosted the troopsmorale on the home front and abroad.Its one-hour production will featureswing dancers and an Andrews Sisters-style girl group that dances and sings toBig Band tunes. Food and drinks will be served. Besides the signature show,some of New Orleans best musicianswill perform at the Canteen, which willsegue into The American Sector, a casualrestaurant featuring the creative Ameri-can cuisine of Louisiana celebrity chefJohn Besh, a veteran of the Gulf War.The restaurant is named for the historicarea of New Orleans where the museumis located. (504-527-6012, nation-alww2museum.org/victory). NORTH CAROLINAThe NASCAR Hall of Fame has an-nounced May 11, 2010 as the officialgrand opening date for the state-of-the-art facility under construction in Char-lotte, N.C. The attraction will comprise150,000 square feet, including exhibitspace, a theater, a Hall of Honor thatwill house the commemorations of Hallof Fame inductees, numerous interactiveNostalgia abounds at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.LeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 37entertainment experiences, a themed restaurant and retailoutlet. The Hall will be owned by the City of Charlotte andoperated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Artifacts on the origins of NASCAR and racing will includea reproduction of a Charlotte Speedway track poster from1924, which illustrates Charlottes deep roots in racing, and an original entry blank from the first-ever NASCAR StrictlyStock series event, held June 19, 1949, at Charlotte Speedway.Among the 1,000 other artifacts will be the PlymouthBelvedere that Richard Petty drove to 27 wins in 1967 andblazer that Ned Jarrett wore while he commentated the 1993Daytona 500 in which his son, Dale, staved off Dale Earn-hardt to claim his first Daytona 500 win.(nascarhall.com)VIRGINIAVirginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center in VirginiaBeach on Nov. 21 opens its $25-million Restless Planet renova-tion, featuring 12,000 square feet of new habitats, exhibits andaquariums. Home to 6,000 new animals and 367 new species including Komodo dragons, cobras and hedgehogs RestlessPlanet will more than double the aquariums animal collection.(757-385-3474, virginiaaquarium.com)38 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comon our radar: south on location: midwest colleen kitka40 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comSimple cuisine that consists ofmuch more than shoe-fly pieand jams and jellies borrows from a richcultural past laced with German andSwiss roots.Using seasonal produce, the Amishshare with travelers a rich food heritagethat is kept alive through strong familyties and community gatherings. Fa-vorite dishes are passed down throughthe generations, and mothers teachtheir daughters to cook by feel ratherthan simply following a recipe. Freshand canned fruits, pickled vegetables,and home-baked breads and sweets arejust a few of the items identified withthe Amish culinary tradition.Amish communities in Illinois, Indi-ana and Ohio abound with restaurants,specialty stores and markets that offer ataste of the wholesome country fare thatmany have come to know and love.ILLINOISAround 4,000 Amish make theirhomes in Central Illinois, mostly in andaround the towns of Arthur and Arcola.Rising farmland costs have encouragedmany to go into greenhouse, carpentryand other businesses. Some Amishwork in the food industry. The DutchKitchen is one such example. Locatedin downtown Arcola, it offers a homeyAmish-style menu. Entre specials in-clude ham and beans, chicken and noo-dles, homemade dumplings and friedchicken, with homemade pie fordessert.For those with large appetites,Yoders Kitchen offers an all-you-can-eat Amish buffet with heaps of mashedCOUNTRY FIXINSHearty home cooking keeps travelers well-fed in MidwesternAmish communitiesDas Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, Indiana, serves heapin helpings of stick-to-your ribs Amish fare.potatoes, pork chops and more. AsArthurs largest restaurant, it can com-fortably accommodate tour groups andprovide banquet rooms if necessary.Also in Arthur, Roselens Coffees &Delights, the only Amish-owned cof-fee shop in the state, offers coffee spe-cialties along with 24 ice cream flavors,wraps, deli sandwiches and pastries. Amishland Red Barn Buffet is lo-cated in Tuscola, just off I-57. A 400-seat Amish buffet, bakery, cheese andmeat store, and Amish handicraftshops sit under one roof in a 72,000-square-foot barn. Rockome Gardens Family-StyleRestaurant in Arcola is a great valuewith its $11.99 family and group-friendly meal of two meats, mashed po-tatoes and gravy, homemade noodles ordressing, vegetable, bread and pie. For alighter option, their plated dinners,starting at $6.99, come with similarAmish fare. Rockome Gardens, a pop-ular group tour attraction, has seven gar-dens with creative rock sculptures, ahorse-powered sawmill, and shops sell-ing Amish and country crafts and foods.For a truly unique experience, visi-tors can arrange for an Amish farm touror home-cooked meal in an Amishhome through the Illinois Amish In-terpretive Center in Arcola. TheKitchen of Doris Yoder offers the sameexperience and can accommodate anygroup size.INDIANAThe nations third-largest enclave ofAmish resides in northern ElkhartCounty, creating an oasis forChicagoans and other travelers seekingto escape their high-tech lives.Amish Acres Restaurant Barn inNappanee dishes out an authentic din-ing experience and is acclaimed to beIndianas best meal. The Threshersfamily-style dinner delivers iron kettlesof hearty bean soup, platters of chicken,ham and beef and other Amish fare, allserved on antique tables in a century-old barn.Outside town in Middlebury, DasDutchmanEssenhaus is a destinationin itself with all-you-can-eat, family-style diners. For dessert, choose from29 different kinds of pies made on-siteat their bakery, where diners can buy anextra indulgence to take back home.From April through December visitorscan start their day off right with an old-fashioned breakfast buffet.In downtown Shipshewana it ishard to miss the BlueGateRestaurantand Bakery, one of the largest restau-rants in Indiana. With a seating capac-ity of 600, it can comfortably serveShipshewanas 536 residents and anyparty size. Patrons can feast on a fam-ily-style dinner of fried chicken androast beef, homemade meatloaf orsmoked ham, mashed potatoes, home-made noodles, chicken dressing andEnjoy Amish home cooking at Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant in Berlin, Ohio.LeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 41Groups never go hungry at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Northern Indiana.Holmes County Chamber of Commercemore, or choose from the breakfast,lunch or dinner menu.Many other area establishmentsprovide snacks and treats to hold youbetween meals. JoJos Pretzels in Ship-shewana is a must for all soft pretzel en-thusiasts. Popcorn lovers can fill up atYoder Popcorn in Topeka, and thosewith a sweet tooth can take home a va-riety of baked goods from the DutchMaid Bakery in Goshen. Stock up onjams, jellies, homemade noodles, salsas,spices, cheeses and farm-raised beef atYodersMeat andCheeseCo. in Ship-shewana. During the summer monthson Tuesdays and Wednesday, theShipshewana Flea Market hosts nu-merous vendors selling a variety ofAmish goodies and fresh farm produce.OHIOOhio has the countrys highest con-centration of Amish. Most live in thenortheast counties of the state, close tothe Pennsylvania border. HolmesCounty contains the largest Amishpopulation with approximately 18,000.Amish Door Restaurant and Vil-lage in Wilmot is nestled in the hills ofOhio Amish country. It has shops, aninn, market and old-fashionedice cream shop, plus occa-sional gospel concerts anddinner theater productions.Widely known for its broastedchicken, slow-cooked roastbeef and mashed potatoes, theAmish Door was named byUSA Today as one of the top25 meals of 2006. Diners eatin what resembles an oversizedAmish house and can choosethe family-style option or orderfrom the menu.Dutch Valley Restaurantin Sugarcreek imparts similarfare with family-style or entre menuoptions. It welcomes bus groups withreservations. Save room for the best-selling favorite, peanut butter creampie. When full, meander onto the porchand digest while relaxing on rockingchairs and gazing out across the fields.A Mt. Hope establishment dishesup a bit of the unusual along with thetypical Amish fare. Concord grape pie,date nut pudding, old-fashionedcracker pudding and the spring seasonaldandelion gravy are just a few of thespecialties Mrs. Yoders Kitchen cooksup on its rotating menu. The Dutchman Restaurants offeran Amish gastronomic experience withrestaurants in Sugarcreek, WalnutCreek, Waynesville and Plain City.Meals can be ordered from a menu orenjoyed family-style. The DutchKitchen in Plain City has a generousbarn-raising buffet served from 11:30till closing. Guggisberg Cheese Co. in Millers-burg, home of the original baby Swiss,produces award-winning cheeses madefrom Doughty Valley Amish farmersmilk. Guests can take samples, buy froma selection of more than 40 cheeses andtake a peek at the cheese-makingprocess. For those with a sweet tooth,Goblentz Chocolate Co. in WalnutCreek supplies 114 varieties of candieslike chocolates, caramels, clusters,creams, meltaways, jellies and fudges.Bulk food stores are another greatplace to stock your pantry. Swiss Vil-lage Bulk Food in Sugarcreek has bak-ing supplies, candies, dried fruits, nuts,over 80 spices, and organic and healthfoods. For a real treat, grind your ownpeanut butter or purchase pure rawhoney in bulk. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio aboundwith ways to relish Amish country fare.No matter which community you visit,hearty country cooking and the simpleway of life is sure to keep your groupscoming back for more. LGTon location: midwest PLAN IT!Illinois Amish Country: amishcountryillinois.com amishcenter.com illinoisamish.netNorthern Indiana Amish Country: amishcountry.orgOhio Amish Country: holmescountychamber.com oacountry.com.The cream-filled whoopie pie is a treat at Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio.42 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comMany Amish families in Holmes County,Ohio, sell foods from their homes.Amish Door Restaurant and VillageHolmes County Chamber of Commerceon our radar: midwest ILLINOISShrek The Musical will launch its na-tional tour next year in Chicago, play-ing the Ford Center for thePerforming Arts, Oriental Theatre for a limited engagement from July 13-Sept. 5, 2010. Tickets are now avail-able for groups of 15 or more. Theshow is based on the story and charac-ters from William Steigs book Shrek!as well as the DreamWorks Animationfilm Shrek, the first chapter of theShrek movie series. The musical tellsthe story of a swamp-dwelling ogrewho goes on a life-changing adven-ture to reclaim the deed to his land.Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, the unlikely hero fights a fearsomedragon, rescues a feisty princess andlearns that real friendship and truelove arent only found in fairy tales.The Broadway production opened onShrek The Musical takes center stage nextsummer in downtown Chicago.Photo by Joan MarcusLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 43Dec. 14, 2008 at the Broadway Theatrein New York City. Other 2010 Broad-way in Chicago productions includeBilly Elliott the Musical, opening March18 for an extended run. (312-977-1710,shrekthemusical.com, broadway-inchicago.com.)The Celebration Belle, an 800-pas-senger riverboat based in Moline, willbegin offering cruises to St. Louis andWinona, Minn. in 2010. Port cities will include Dubuque, Guttenberg and Lansing, Iowa; and La Crosse andPrairie du Chien, Wis. Operated by Celebration River Cruises, the boat isthe largest non-gaming excursion vesselon the Upper Mississippi River. (800-297-0034, celebrationbelle.com)IOWA Davenports German AmericanHeritage Center in October will opena new interactive, audio-visual exhibitthat explores what it was like to bean immigrant to the Quad Cities in the 1800s. Housed in a 19th centuryhotel used by immigrants, the exhibitwill feature a theater, education sta-tions, and two restored hotel rooms.The center has undergone a $2.8-mil-lion interior renovation since 2007 and has increased exhibit space by sixtimes. (563-322-8844, gahc.org)MINNESOTA The Red Wing Shoe Museum,which features the worlds largest boot,just opened on Main Street in RedWing, Minn. The boot, created in2005 for the companys centennial, is a size 638 D, stands six feet talland weighs 2,300 pounds. The store attached to the museum sells RedWing shoes and boots. Tours of thefactory are available. (redwing.org, redwingshoes.com)The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition willopen March 12, 2010 in Saint Paul atthe Science Museum of Minnesota andrun through summer or beyond. Theancient documents, some of which aremore than 2,000 years old, include frag-ments of the earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Tes-tament). After their initial discovery by a shepherd in caves along the shores ofIsraels Dead Sea near the ancient settle-ment of Qumran, archaeologists havepieced together thousands of scroll frag-ments into more than 900 separate documents, from biblical manuscriptsand commentary to religious legal writ-ings. The fragments, now archived bythe Israel Antiquities Authority, are oc-casionally put in display at major muse-ums. The Science Museums exhibitionalso will include artifacts that provide a glimpse into life in ancient Israel. (651-221-9426, smm.org)MISSOURIThe Independence Events Center, amulti-purpose facility for sports events,concerts, touring shows and festivals,opens in November in Independence,Mo. It will be the home of a new Cen-tral Hockey League team, the MissouriMavericks. The state-of-the-art center,17 miles east of downtown Kansas City,will feature an arena with 5,800 fixedseats, 25 luxury suites, restaurants and acommunity ice rink. (816-795-7577,independenceeventscenter.com)In 2004 the Missouri State Peniten-tiary (MSP) sent all of its inmates to behoused in a new correctional facility.Now, five years later, people are lined upto get back inside the walls. The Jeffer-son City Convention and Visitors Bu-reau has partnered with the MissouriState Penitentiary Redevelopment Com-mission to offer a Hard Hat Tour ofthe old penitentiary. The tour showcasescells dating back to 1836, when MSPwas built, including those of famous in-mates such as heavyweight championSonny Liston, who learned to box dur-ing his time in the big house, and JamesEarl Ray. Other stops on the tour arethe gas chamber where 40 men andwomen were executed.(800-769-4183,visitjeffersoncity.com) OHIO The new Lamar Hunt Super BowlGallery has opened at the Pro FootballHall of Fame in Canton. Dynamic dis-plays and interactive video kiosks high-light every Super Bowl, featuring thegreat plays and the games stars. Gameartifacts are displayed throughout the4,000-square-foot space. Exhibits ex-plain the significance of the first fourSuper Bowls and how the game hasrisen in popularity worldwide. Visitorssee a movie about the most recent game.(profootballhof.com)on our radar: midwest 44 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comVISITOKC.COMA DOWNTOWN RENAISSANCE AND SHIMMERING NEW RIVERFRONT. A BURGEONING ART SCENE AND WORLD-CLASS MUSEUMS. THE FLAVORS OF THE WORLD AND THE COMFORTS OF HOME.OKLAHOMA CITY ISNT JUST A DESTINATION ITS AN INSPIRATION.COME SEE OUR PRIDE & GLORY. OUR PRESENT & FUTURE. OURThe Oklahoma State C api tol Dome and the Oklahoma C i t y Nat ional Memor ial & Museumon our radar: west OKLAHOMAThe Hard Rock Hotel & CasinoTulsa has opened as the only HardRock in Americas heartland and the seventh Hard Rock Hotel &Casino in the world. Operated byCherokee Nation Entertainment, thenew resort features 350 hotel roomsand suites; more than 125,000 squarefeet of gaming space; five dining ven-ues including Toby Keiths I Love ThisBar & Grill and McGills on 19, a finedining penthouse restaurant; and fivenightclubs and entertainment venuesincluding the 2,500-seat Hard RockHotel & Casino event center sched-uled to open in 2010. Center Bar hasan 80-foot-long frozen bar top. Thecasino features more than 2,300 electronic games and 70 poker andtable games. Cherokee Hills Golf Club championship golf course is located adjacent to the property.(cherokeestarrewards.com)TEXASCollette Vacations has announcedthe nine-day Heart of Texas, a new2010 tour with multiple-night stays inAustin, San Antonio and Fort Worth.Highlights include a full day at a duderanch, where clients will learn the art of saddling and roping; a rodeo; and aride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.Culinary features include a Tex Mexcooking class in San Antonio and dinnerat the Moonshine Grill, located in oneof Austins most historic areas. The touralso features tastings at two wineries,Bob Bullock Texas History Museum inAustin, Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch inStonewall and a Dallas city tour that includes the Sixth Floor Museum andDealey Plaza, where President John F.Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. (collettevacations.com)WASHINGTONSeattles Convention and Visitors Bureaus 2009-2010 Professional TourPlanners Guide is available to tour operators and travel agents interested inoffering new ideas for client travel tothe Pacific Northwest. Covering Seattleand surrounding areas, the guide offerstour planners information on accom-modations, group transportation, attractions, dining options, shoppingand sample itineraries. (206-461-5815,visitseattle.org/travelplanner/services/request.asp)LeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 45on location: west elana andersenIs your group eager to experiencethe thrill of a new adventure? Ex-plore the unknown? Adventure travelhas taken a dramatic turn from beinglimited to death-defying, adrenalin-charged, physically demanding activi-ties to soft adventures that tone downthe heroics and turn up the emotions.Great soft adventure experiencesthroughout the West will energizespirits and excite the five senses. Here are some examples of adven-tures you may want to plan for yourgroup:ALASKAWarbelows Air Ventures has in-troduced a new Arctic Adventurepackage to view polar bears. The two-day journey takes travelers to Kak-tovik, an Inupiat Eskimo villagelocated 260 miles north of the ArcticCircle, during its annual subsistencewhale hunt, September-October. Theillusive bears gather in the area for ashort time each year to forage thehunts remains. The package includestransportation, meals, accommoda-tions and viewing expeditions. Warbe-lows offers both scheduled and groupcharter service. (warbelows.com)ARIZONAThe thrill of flightseeing combinedwith land excursions to places less trav-eled is a fantastic way to experience Ari-zona.Westwind Air Service tours fromPhoenix include the Grand CanyonWest Rim Adventure, which featuresseveral experiences. It begins with a sce-nic flight to the canyons West airport.First land stop is a walk on the clear glassSkywalk that jettisons 65 feet out overMontanas Glacier National Park offers a stellar backdropfor ambitious bike riders and other adventure seekers.From rafting in Idaho to llama treksin Washington, groups kick it up a notch with active outings that spotlight some of Americas most scenic landscapes Discovering the Softer Side of 46 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comWestern AdventuresWestern Adventuresthe 4,000-foot depth of the canyon. There is a visit to theHualapai Indian Cultural Village and stop at Guano Pointfor lunch, hike along the rim and photo stop at a 270-de-gree canyon viewing site. The highlight of the afternoon isa helicopter ride to the canyon floor and a pontoon boatride on the Colorado River. (westwindairservice.com)CALIFORNIAGood food and drink, fitness and a healthy respect forpreserving the earthcombined, these tenets of the Cali-fornia lifestyle will create an indulgent adventure. InSonoma County, for example, there is a plethora of recre-ation options and culinary choices, including more than250wineries, 200-plus specialty farms and artisan food pur-veyors, 20 farmers markets, and ocean-to-inland moun-tain landscapes. Enjoy a bicycle tour of wineries paired witha gourmet picnic (sonomavalleybiketours.com), a casualRussian River rafting trip through villages and nature re-serves (rradventures.info), and field-to-table restaurant andwinery culinary packages that feature local products (from-farmtotable.com, farmtrails.org).COLORADOTaking a ride on the wild side is far from rustic whenvacationing at a Colorado dude ranch. In many cases itsdownright luxurious. The fun of ranch vacations comeswith the outdoor atmosphere, spectacular scenery andwide-open spaces. Standard activities include horsebackriding, hiking, swimming and fishing.The wild rivers of Montana and other Western states provide travelers with a raft of whitewater thrills.Photos by Donnie SextonLeisureGroupTravel.com October 2009 47The camaraderie at the dinner tableand around the campfire is hard to beat.Meals are hardy, accommodations areprivate and well-appointed, the staff isattentive and friendly. Other adventuresmay include hot air ballooning, Jeeptours, rock climbing, cattle drives,whitewater rafting, golf and tennis. TheColorado Dude and Guest Ranch As-sociation (coloradoranch.com) repre-sents about 30 ranches. IDAHOCant decide which adventure youwant to do firstsport fishing, white-water rafting, wilderness trail rides orimmersion into the life and times ofSacajawea? All these adventures andothers are available through Kook-aburra Rafting from its base inSalmon on the Salmon River. Visitorsmay choose to experience one type ofadventure or do something new everyday.River rafting is mainly Class 2 and3, horseback riding is at an easy paceand drift boats take visitors to the beststeelhead holes.The historical immer-sion programs, in cooperation with theSacajawea Interpretive Center, focuson Native American culture and Lewis& Clarks Corps of Discovery.Overnight accommodations are avail-able in Salmon. (raft4fun.com).MONTANA &WYOMINGBoth states offer many opportunitiesfor sportsmen and outdoor adventurersat all skill levels. Options range fromfishing and hunting to whitewater raft-ing, cattle drives and just hangingaround a guest ranch. Tour companiesand outfitters are accustomed to adapt-ing activities to meet the abilities andpace of their guests.For adventure travelideas, contact the Montana Outfitters& Guides Association (montanaoutfit-ters.org) and Wyoming Guides andOutfitters Association (wyoga.org).UTAH & NEW MEXICOThe World Outdoors organizesguided walking adventures in some ofthe Southwests most beautiful locations.The Utah Canyonlands-EscalanteHiker program explores Arches,Canyonlands and Capitol Reef nationalparks and the Grand Staircase-Escalantearea. The New Mexico Hiker adven-ture starts near Santa Fe and follows apath to an Anasazi settlement, land-scapes that inspired Georgia OKeeffe,the canyons and pueblos near Taos, San-gre de Cristo Mountains and the RioGrandes inner gorge. Both are easy tomoderately paced six-day packages ledby two guides. The World Outdoors alsooffers similar itineraries offering multi-sport activities. (theworldoutdoors.com)WASHINGTONSea kayaking through the San JuanIslands with Adventure Travel Associ-ates is a great adventure even for thosewho have had no previous experience.The crafts are stable, the waters calm,and the marine life is abundant withseals, porpoises, eagles, sea birds, ottersand orca whales. Guided trips rangefrom day outings to six-night itiner-aries.Accommodations are at rustic re-sort lodges offering private cabins withservices and amenities. (adventureasso-ciates.net)Some wilderness treks require theuse of pack animals to haul camping,sport and survival gear. Deli LlamaWilderness Adventures operates llamapacking treks (up to seven days) intothe high country of North CascadesNational Park, Northeastern CascadePasaytenWilderness, and the rainforestvalley and alpine highlands of OlympicNational Park,May through September.In early spring, a special three-day pro-gram is designed to acquaint newtrekkers with the ease and pace of thisstyle of adventure. (delillama.com) LGTon location: west 48 October 2009 LeisureGroupTravel.comListen closely and youll hear the centuries-old echoes of ancient Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors and Wild West legends. Its Unreal How Real We Areon technology john kamm, ctpADVENTUREOPERATORS STRIVEto provide their guests with an optimumadventure experience and at the sametime operate their businesses in a man-ner that expresses a deep appreciationand commitment for preservation of ournatural ecosystems. This is no mean featand many are leveraging technology tomake it happen.Adventure-seeking clients in particu-lar are very aware of how a companyconducts itself. Mat Unger, adventuresystems manager for Natural HabitatAdventures, Boulder, Colo., notes thatabout 90% of its clients are providingemail addresses for invoices and otherdocuments, up from about 30% just afew years ago. NatHab has added secureweb forms to their website to collectnecessary traveler information such asdietary preferences, medical history andpassport information. This saves paper,postage and staff time because they arefreed from the task of reentering thedata into the reservation system.Matt Zeugin, IT director for OARSin Angels Camp, Calif., said they havealso moved to email for client commu-nications and that the company haseliminated faxing lengthy rosters andpassenger requirement reports to theirremote operations managers. Instead,OARS has set up a web-based reportsite so that managers can log in fromanywhere in the world to view concisereports. He notes this not only savesexpensive fax paper but the reports aremore up-to-date because the informa-tion is coming directly from the reserva-tion system.Remote access to the central data-bases is a critical technology for eachof these companies. Micato Safaristechnical director, Sean Wilsen, reportshis company has implemented anintranet (private website for employeesonly) to share and coordinate resourcesamong the companys far-flung offices(New York, Cape Town, Nairobi,Mumbai and New Delhi). Instead ofprinting, shipping and filing contentfor brochures, documents, itineraries,manuals and other company communi-cations, it is stored and transmitted viathe website.The inherent complexity of the ad-venture travel experience also drives thedevelopment of the technologies. Ungerpoints out that NatHabs primary au-tomation goal is to provide supporttools for their customer service team:In any interaction with the guest wewant it to be correct the first time, theremust be flexibility and system program-ming must be focused on minimizinghuman error.If you are in the vast expanse ofMasai Mara and you have forgottensomething, you will do without; notexactly what well-heeled guests are ex-pecting, Wilsen said. Sharing infor-mation through our global networkgives us the quality control we need.Looking beyond analytics, OARS isincorporating social networking tech-nology into its new website. Facebookand Twitter provide a virtual commu-nity for our clients and prospectiveclients, Zeugin said. Our YouTubechannel has been a big hit.Green business is good business butwithout current technologies, it justwould not be feasible. At the same time,clients are demanding more personal-ized service from operators. High techenables high touch. The challenges areclear and fortunately the technologytools are available to help you succeed.Adventure Tech: Tracking Trekking TechnologiesInnovative office systems take hold in thecompetitive adventure travel arenaJohn Kamm is CEO of TourTech Systems, Inc., developers of TourTools, the most popular tour reservations solution in North America. 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