Day: November 21, 2020

Charlotte travelers can get Bojangles fix as restaurants open at Love’s Travel Stops

Carolina residents can now get a taste of home while traveling with the opening of new Bojangles restaurants at Love’s Travel Stops.

On Thursday, Bojangles opened at the new Love’s Travel Stops in Marion, Illinois, according to a statement from Bojangles.

Another Bojangles opened in Blyethville, Arkansas, at Love’s earlier this month.

It’s the first location in both states for the iconic Southern chain, according to Bojangles.

“We’re honored to commemorate the first of many locations with Love’s,” said Brian Unger, chief operating officer for Bojangles.

The Charlotte-based chicken chain known for its scratch-made biscuits and the national leader in 24-hour truck stop and convenience stores announced in December an agreement to open 40 locations in the next decade.

Other Bojangles also will debut at Love’s in Oklahoma and Mississippi.

According to Love’s, a Bojangles also opened with the new truck stop that opened Thursday at Cordele, Georgia.

The new Bojangles stores will serve breakfast all day with hours from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Eventually, the restaurants will be open 24 hours a day, according to the company. The restaurants will offer a full menu, drive-thru and dine-in.

Founded in 1977 in Charlotte, Bojangles has about 750 restaurants in 11 states. Bojangles plans to hire more than 30,000 people over the next year, the Observer previously reported.

Love’s Travel Stops, founded in 1964 and based in Oklahoma City, has more than 530 locations in 41 states and employs more than 27,000 people.

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©2020 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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Black Friday vacation deals starting now

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – Black Friday deals are starting even earlier this year,  and one Birmingham travel agent says vacation deals are better than ever.



a person holding a bag of luggage: WBRC


© Provided by Birmingham WBRC
WBRC

Even if you’re a bit hesitant to travel right now, you can still take advantage of the Black Friday deals and promotions and travel later.

Mary Dee Patrick with Mary Dee Travel, an affiliate of Travel Edge, said there are already some major deals on several different types of trips, but the time frame to actually book the trip is limited.

Before you book, COVID-19 restrictions and requirements vary dramatically with each destination, and things can change every single day.

If you don’t read the fine print, you could show up at the airport and not be able to go.

“Things are changing as the pandemic evolves,” said Patrick. “If you don’t use a travel advisor who should stay on top of it for you, you need to be watching regularly the TSA and the CDC government regulations to know what is required.”

You will need to know when you’ll need your COVID test results before your trip, and the ability to cancel your trip.

And with so many insurance policies out there, it’s crucial to know what kind of coverage you have.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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10 Airbnb Alternatives for Every Kind of Vacation Home Seeker



a living room filled with furniture and a large window: 10 Airbnb Alternatives for Every Kind of Vacation Home Seeker


© Courtesy of Homes & Villas by Marriott International
10 Airbnb Alternatives for Every Kind of Vacation Home Seeker

If you are traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, make sure you are aware of the latest travel rules and restrictions in the destination you are going to, and check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest COVID-19 travel guidelines. We also have provided some tips for booking safe vacation rentals during the pandemic in this story.

There’s no denying that Airbnb has become an essential vacation rental resource for countless travelers the world over (for us too!), but it certainly isn’t the only game in town. Depending on the type of vacation home you are looking for, there are ample options.

We’ve put together our go-to list of vacation rental companies that we lean on whether we are simply looking for more choices for a popular destination or travel period (hello, last-minute holiday planners—we see you, we are you), or have something very specific in mind regarding amenities or design aesthetic. These are the vacation rentals for every budget, style, preference, and taste.

Homes & Villas by Marriott International



a living room filled with furniture and vase of flowers on a table: This 12-acre Kauai villa overlooks beautiful Kahili Bay.


© Courtesy of Homes & Villas by Marriott International
This 12-acre Kauai villa overlooks beautiful Kahili Bay.

Best for hotel lovers and Marriott Bonvoy members

Last year, one of the world’s most recognizable hotel companies entered the vacation rental market with Homes & Villas by Marriott International. The result is a large and well-curated collection of properties perfectly suited for travelers who love the consistent cleanliness and service hotels and resorts offer but want the space and unique amenities vacation rentals provide.

Marriott has partnered with experienced home management companies, such as Austin-based TurnKey Vacation Rentals (more on this outfit below), to oversee the maintenance and operations of the residences, ensuring that homes are professionally cleaned and always come with guaranteed standards, such as Wi-Fi, in-home washers, premium bed linens and towels, and provided toiletries.

The collection features more than 12,000 high-end homes in 225 destinations throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and South Africa. The homes have an average nightly rate of about $500, but they range from urban and beach condos for about $150/night all the way up to sprawling English manors and Caribbean villas that go for $20,000/night.

Similar to other vacation rental booking platforms, you can search by your destination and dates. But if you’re looking for some inspiration to help drive your decision, Homes & Villas by Marriott International also has a series of “Curated Collections,” homes that are organized into such categories as:

Or go ahead and book Frank Sinatra’s midcentury Palm Springs paradise (pictured at the top of this article) or the sprawling Kauai villa pictured above.

In addition to the properties themselves, one of the biggest benefits of the Homes & Villas product is the fact that Marriott Bonvoy loyalty members can earn and redeem points when staying at the vacation homes.

To book: homes-and-villas.marriott.com

 

Vrbo



a wooden bench in front of a building: Take a dip in your private 50-foot-long pool at this three-bedroom villa in Phoenix, Arizona.


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Mandalay Bay, Mirage ceasing midweek hotel operations amid pandemic

Mandalay Bay and the Mirage will close their hotels midweek beginning later this month, according to operator MGM Resorts International.

They join a growing number of Strip resorts closed during the week because of soft customer demand amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning Nov. 30, the hotels at Mandalay Bay and the Mirage will be closed Mondays through noon on Thursdays, according to a statement from MGM. The closures are not expected to last into the new year, the company said.

An MGM spokesman said the company will “continue evaluating business levels” before deciding when to reopen midweek.

Casinos, restaurants and other amenities will remain open.

In September, midweek hotel occupancy in Las Vegas was 39%, down from 86% from the same month in 2019, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Earlier this month, MGM announced hotel operations at Park MGM would cease during the week. Wynn Resorts has also moved to limit midweek hotel operations on the Strip.

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Business Trip: Hawaii game far from a vacation for Broncos | National

How different will the trip to Hawaii be for the Boise State football team?

The two Hawaii natives on the team, brothers Kekaula and Kaonohi Kaniho, may not even be able to see their family while in town.

Strict COVID-19 restrictions in Honolulu have forced the Broncos to alter their trip, and that means potentially not even allowing players to see family members in the lobby of the hotel before the game.

“This was the game my family had circled back four years ago when we knew we’d be coming here my senior year and especially when my brother committed it would be both of us playing back home on the same team together,” Kekaula Kaniho said. “It’s going to be a bummer. It was going to basically be the whole island coming to support us.”

Boise State has had to navigate a number of issues stemming from a six-hour flight across the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a pandemic. The Broncos typically would fly on Thursday to have the extra day to get used to the three-hour time difference and the change in weather, but didn’t leave this time until Friday afternoon.

That leaves the Broncos only about 24 hours from touchdown to kickoff, a short turnaround both mentally and physically for a bunch of large human beings crammed into small airplane seats for six hours.

“A lot of times we’d get there and have a practice and get acclimated a little bit and let our bodies recover from the travel and then go do something, maybe on Thursday night or Friday morning do something fun as a team like walk along the beach or let the guys go for a couple hours, but that experience is going to be different now,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “We’re going to fly there, get off, go eat, have meetings, and go to bed. We’ll wake up, have meetings, go to our room, have pregame meal and leave to go play the game.”

Boise State’s traveling party has been instructed not to leave the team hotel from the time they arrive on Friday evening until when they board the bus to head for the stadium on Saturday.

“Based off what is happening in Hawaii I think it’s best for us,” Harsin said. “We’re going to be respectful of what they are asking us to do, just basically show up, play the game and leave. That’s really our focus.”

Nobody on Boise State’s roster has played a game at Hawaii and only a handful of players or coaches have ever been there even for vacation.

“Last time I was in Hawaii I was on my honeymoon and that was a long time ago. This is a much different situation,” defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding said. “The quick turnaround kind of is what it is. It’s due to a few things obviously with the situation that we’re in. It’s not like you can land a day early and go do anything.”

While

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Massachusetts reports 2,288 new COVID cases, 34 deaths on Friday as state expands travel restrictions

State health officials confirmed another 2,288 coronavirus cases, bringing the number of active cases statewide to 35,526. That’s based on 71,269 new molecular tests reported on Friday, according to the Department of Public Health.

Health officials also confirmed another 34 COVID-related fatalities on Friday, for a total of 10,238 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

There are currently 904 people hospitalized statewide for COVID-19 or symptoms related to the virus, including 179 patients in intensive care.

The seven-day average of positive tests increased to 3.28% on Thursday, which is up from a low of .8 in September.

The latest numbers come as Pfizer and BioNTech announced they will submit a request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their mRNA COVID-19 vaccine candidate, called BNT162b2.

The emergency use authorization could allow high-risk groups in the United States to receive doses of the vaccine by the middle to end of December, the companies said. The request for authorization comes days after an analysis this week revealed the prototype vaccine to be 95% effective during large-scale Phase 3 clinical trials.

The Department of Public Health tweaked the state’s quarantine guidance this week, allowing people exposed to COVID-19 to leave quarantine as early as 10 days if they test negative beforehand.

People exposed to COVID-19 who get a test eight days into their quarantine and end up negative would be allowed to leave quarantine under the guidance that took effect on Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said during a news conference at the Massachusetts State House.

Those people must also not have or have had any symptoms and must continue to watch their health during the two-week period, according to the guidance. If they develop symptoms, they should get retested. The rest of the quarantine guidelines remains unchanged.

On Friday, Massachusetts added two more states to the list of states it is requiring visitors — or those returning to Mass. from those states — to quarantine for 14 days or get a negative COVID test. Maine and New Hampshire were added to the list leaving only Vermont and Hawaii the only two states Massachusetts is not restricting travel from.

Here are the number of coronavirus cases in each Massachusetts county:

Barnstable County: 2,488

Berkshire County: 1,201

Bristol County: 17,337

Dukes County: 224

Essex County: 30,674

Franklin County: 571

Hampden County: 13,929

Hampshire County: 2,037

Middlesex County: 40,680

Nantucket County: 262

Norfolk County: 14,569

Plymouth County: 13,505

Suffolk County: 34,270

Worcester County: 22,038

Unknown location: 553

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COVID-19 tests rise as people prepare for Thanksgiving travel

The number of coronavirus tests administered each day has increased by nearly 500,000 in the past month, spurred, in part, recently, by people preparing for holiday travel, despite pleas from federal health officials to stay home.

The week-long average number of coronavirus tests performed daily jumped from just more than 1.1 million to more than 1.6 million on average in the past seven days, according to COVID Tracking Project data.

Seventeen states and Washington, D.C., require incoming travelers from states with especially high test positivity rates to produce proof that they have tested negative for the coronavirus. New York, for instance, requires visitors to provide their negative results from a test taken within three days before their arrival. Then, visitors have to quarantine for three days. On the fourth day, they have to test negative again before leaving quarantine.

College students are also flocking to testing centers ahead of the holiday, and schools are scrambling to get enough tests to meet the demand, the Financial Times reported. An estimated 100,000 students in the State University of New York system are expected to get a test. Thousands more at Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Michigan will undergo tests before the holiday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meanwhile, is imploring people to skip travel this year and avoid gatherings with people from other households.

“What’s at stake is inadvertently someone is infected in that particular household, in that larger family, and then spreads it to others. They become infected, and then they go back to their own community, and then that infection is spread to someone else,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, told reporters Thursday.

To date, more than 11.8 million coronavirus infections and nearly 254,000 deaths due to COVID-19 have been confirmed in the United States, according to tracking data from Johns Hopkins University.

Healthcare providers braced for further increases in new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths Friday as cases across the U.S. have surged to record highs in recent weeks, Reuters reported. The week-long average number of cases confirmed daily reached 161,449 on Nov. 19, while nearly 2,000 deaths due to COVID-19 were confirmed Thursday, the highest since early May.

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer, along with its partner BioNTech, submitted its vaccine candidate for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, becoming the first companies to do so since the pandemic began.

The FDA announced Friday evening that its panel of scientists evaluating the vaccine, the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, will meet on Dec. 10 to begin the regulatory process.

“While we cannot predict how long the FDA’s review will take, the FDA will review the request as expeditiously as possible, while still doing so in a thorough and science-based manner, so that we can help make available a vaccine that the American people deserve as soon as possible,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said.

New research from the Centers for Disease Control

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Glass-domed luxury train will travel through Southwest next summer

A new high-end train route is on its way to the Southwest.

Rocky Mountaineer, a Canada-based luxury rail-tour company, announced on Thursday that it will be launching a two-day route next summer.

The “Rockies to the Red Rocks” trip — between Denver and Moab, Utah — will stop overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Passengers will travel on one of Rocky Mountaineer’s glass-domed train coaches through the beautiful scenery of the Southwest.

The cost of the trip starts at $1,250 USD per person, according to the announcement. It includes the two-day train journey as well as the overnight stay in Glenwood Springs.

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Canada-based luxury rail company Rocky Mountaineer will be launching a new route between Colorado and Utah next summer. (Rocky Mountaineer)

Canada-based luxury rail company Rocky Mountaineer will be launching a new route between Colorado and Utah next summer. (Rocky Mountaineer)

The route’s preview season will run from Aug. 15 through Oct. 23, 2021, with 40 departures, the company said.

For people who want to book a ticket now, they can make a $25 refundable deposit. 

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Rocky Mountaineer is still developing various tour and activity packages with help from local tourism groups and hotels, “so guests can experience even more of the region,” the announcement said.

The two-day route, called 'Rockies to the Red Rocks,' will stop overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. (Rocky Mountaineer)

The two-day route, called ‘Rockies to the Red Rocks,’ will stop overnight in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. (Rocky Mountaineer)

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“Over the past 30 years, Rocky Mountaineer has become renowned for our world-class train travel experiences, and now we are opening our newest train experience in the region where train travel history began,” Peter Armstrong, Rocky Mountaineer’s founder, said in a statement. “This region, with its magnificent scenery, national parks, vast opportunities to explore, will delight millions.” 

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The company already runs three luxury train routes in Canada, from Vancouver to three towns in the Canadian Rockies: Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. 

The journey will also be held on one of Rocky Mountaineer's glass-domed train coaches. (Rocky Mountaineer)

The journey will also be held on one of Rocky Mountaineer’s glass-domed train coaches. (Rocky Mountaineer)

Steve Sammut, Rocky Mountaineer’s president and CEO, said the company has been working on adding new routes for several years.

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In a statement, Sammut said the Rocky Mountaineer has been in search of a route with “incredible scenery, iconic destinations, and the option for an all daytime, multi-day journey that is best experienced by train.”

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“Rockies to the Red Rocks will have all of this and more, and is an opportunity to bring our award-winning Rocky Mountaineer experience to showcase the epic scenery of the Southwest United States,” Sammut said.

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Get a virus test before you travel, experts say as some US states revert to ‘near-lockdown’ | National News

The coronavirus is taking an increasingly dire toll across the U.S. just as a vaccine appears close at hand. The country is now averaging over 1,300 COVID-19 deaths per day — the highest since the calamitous spring in and around New York City.

With health experts deeply afraid Thanksgiving travel and holiday gatherings next week will fuel the spread of the virus, many states and cities are imposing near-lockdowns or other restrictions. California ordered a 10 p.m.-to 5-a.m. curfew starting Saturday, covering 94% of the state’s 40 million residents.

Amid the bleak new statistics, Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, setting in motion a process that could make the first, limited shots available as early as next month, with health care workers and other high-risk groups likely to get priority.

But it could take months before the vaccine becomes widely available. Pfizer has said the vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing the disease.



Daily COVID-19 deaths in US reach highest level since May

Other developments today:

As college students prepare to go home for the holidays, some schools are quickly ramping up COVID-19 testing to try to keep infections from spreading further as the coronavirus surges across the U.S.



Heading home for the holiday? Get a virus test, colleges say

This summer’s huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D. led to dozens of coronavirus cases in neighboring Minnesota, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds.

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