Day: November 29, 2020

Cyber Monday travel deals to cure next year’s wanderlust

One of the best weeks for finding steep discounts and brand loyalty incentives is upon us, and this shopping season may be especially appealing for Seattle travelers.

Though travel is different this year as the pandemic has a hold on our collective lives, daydreaming and planning for better days ahead has avid travelers seeking out the best deals for the new year.

When Cyber Monday arrives this year, don’t get caught in a last-minute panic searching for deals. Scroll down to see some of the best discounted travel packages and deals. Then bookmark your favorites and boost your spirits with these great deals for future travels.

Costa Rica: Tierra Magnifica Luxury Resort

Newly-expanded Tierra Magnifica in Nosara, Costa Rica, is offering an appealing Cyber Monday deal with 25% savings in addition to resort perks. The adults-only boutique property is ideal for surf getaways and romantic retreats equally with a relaxing vibe and panoramic ocean views. Follow nature trails or soul search on a meditation deck, then dip down to the beach for a refreshing splash.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, book direct to receive half-price spa treatments during a discounted stay, available with booking code CYBER2020. This deal applies for travel dates between January 3 through the end of April 2021.

Jackson Hole, WY: Snow King Mountain

Ready to hit the slopes? Get ready to save on a fun family getaway to Snow King Resort, home to world-class downhill skiing, snowmobiling and more outdoor adventure. The deal runs exclusively between November 23-30 this year, offering up to 40% off lodging.

In addition to its location at the base of Snow King Mountain, Snow King Resort is in close proximity to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, making this an outdoor adventurists dream destination. Travel dates for this Cyber Monday deal are valid mid-December through the end of May 2021. If visiting this winter, guests will see the resort light up for the holiday season with a variety of family events taking place like scenic sleigh rides and Santa sightings.

Puerto Vallarta: Casa Kimberly Hotel

Travelers are already returning to Mexico, so visitors should already know what to expect as Puerto Vallarta reopens to guests. This sale season, take advantage of a rare deal to stay at Casa Kimberly, famously known as Elizabeth Taylor’s abode when courting Richard Burton. This former home has blossomed into a boutique hotel in the heart of romantic downtown Puerto Vallarta. Luxury suites, a pool, in-demand restaurant and soothing spa attract guests from around the world.

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Casa Kimberly is offering a 50% discount on suite bookings for stays between December 2020 through the end of May 2021. Use offer code CYBERCK to reserve at this incredible rate.

Saint Lucia: Traveler’s Choice


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Family asks airline to change credit polcy amid COVID

They had $1,600 in airline credits set to expire despite government warnings against holiday travel.

WASHINGTON — It was supposed to be a February getaway for Howard Van and his family to relax after the birth of his second son, Vincent. He bought airplane tickets for himself, his wife Yok, Vincent and his older son Jason, and his sisters in-laws Amy and Yann Ly.

The family was supposed to fly on Southwest Airlines from BWI Airport to Tampa, Florida. But days before they were supposed to leave, and just as coronavirus was hitting the United States, Howard and his wife got sick with a fever and chills.

Van worried the couple might have contracted coronavirus, but said there was no way to know at the time.

“We had all the classic symptoms,” Van said. “But we will never know we had it or not because we there was no testing available to the general public at that time.”

Van says he was just trying to do the safe and responsible thing by cancelling the trip.

“For us as a family and for other passengers on that flight,” he said.

Southwest issued the van family travel credits for cost of the plane tickets worth roughly $1,640. The travel credits were set to expire on December 20, 2020. But with COVID cases surging around the country, Howard said there was no way to use the travel credits, especially since his wife and sister in law Yann are both front line health care workers and asked by their employers not to travel.

So, Van called Southwest and asked for an extension to use the travel credits.

Because of their current policy they were unable to grant me that request, which was very disappointing for us,” Van said. “And it became almost like a financial ticking time bomb as the deadline was approaching.”

That Southwest policy says only travel credits issued on or after March 1 of this year can be extended. Van asked customer service to make an exception, posting his appeal to Southwest Airline’s CEO, Gary Kelly, on the company website.

Van wrote, “The current Southwest policy is hurting front line medical professionals during a time when they are sacrificing the most to keep everyone safe.”

But according to a screen shot of that conversation provided by Van, Southwest wouldn’t budge. A customer service rep wrote back: “We’re sorry for any disappointment surrounding the fare rules…ya’ll chose to purchase.”

Van said the best Southwest told him they could do was charge him $100 per ticket to extend the travel credit deadline, meaning he could sink another $500 into a trip he didn’t know when his family could safely take. Or lose the $1640 in airfare all together.

“And for our family, that’s a lot of money,” Van said. “That’s money we could use to buy groceries, invest in our college funds or buy Christmas presents for our kids.”

Howard wrote to WUSA9 and asked for help. So, Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Flack

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Why Cobra Kai fans are rewatching Parks and Rec

In the fourth episode of Parks and Recreation‘s fourth season — entitled “Pawnee Rangers” — outdoorsman Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and the lovable goofball Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) take on the responsibility of leading the local scouting troop, the titular Pawnee Rangers. Their plans quickly turn sour as a heated rivalry emerges between the Rangers and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), and April Ludgate’s (Aubrey Plaza) all-female Pawnee Goddesses. The two go head to head to determine which is the stronger group, with the only real losers being Ron’s grade school-level pupils.

Leslie and her crew take a fun, laid-back approach, but Ron chooses to teach Andy and the boys survival skills by “roughing it” in the wilderness. Unsurprisingly, they grow miserable very quickly, as vocalized by a Pawnee Ranger named Darren, who delivers the now-famous line, “I like you, Mr. Swanson, it’s just, all we do is sit in silence and eat beans.” 

What most audiences didn’t realize at the time is that the actor behind Darren is Cobra Kai-mainstay Jacob Bertrand, who has brought Eli Moskowitz, or Hawk, as he’s now known around the dojo, to life for the past two seasons. Parks and Rec isn’t the only series Bertrand guest-starred on before becoming one of Cobra Kai’s most aggressive combatants, either. He also popped up in the season 3 Community episode “Regional Holiday Music” as a young Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), adding yet another cult-favorite sitcom to his resume.

Thankfully, Jacob Bertrand seems to have grown out of the cameo phase of his career. He continues to impress on Cobra Kai, earning his spot as one of the program’s up-and-coming stars.

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Recreation facilities close as Windsor-Essex moves to Red

Multiple recreational facilities are temporarily closing down as Windsor-Essex enters the Red-Control level of the COVID-19 response framework on Monday.

Based on advice from the Windsor Essex County Heatlh Unit, (WECHU) The Nature Fresh Farms Recreation Centre (NFFRC) in Leamington said it will close on Monday until further notice. The facility also stated that all expiring memberships will be extended for the duration of the closure. Elsewhere, the Vollmer Complex in LaSalle also announced that it will be closing on Monday. Virtual services will be offered by both facilities, more information on virtual programs can be found on municipal websites.

On Friday, Ontario announced it would be moving Windsor-Essex into the Red level as the region began to surpass thresholds on the provincial scale.

As of Monday, at 12:01 a.m. restaurants will only allow 10 people to be seated indoors, and must close by 10 p.m. Casinos and bingo halls are also only permitted to have 10 people inside at one time and indoor movie theatres are required to close. Social gatherings and organized public events must be limited to five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

A full list of the restrictions in place for regions in the Red-Control level can be found here.

-With files from Maureen Revait




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Rand Hotel Tower opens this week after $110 million renovation

The Rand Tower reopens Wednesday in downtown Minneapolis after a $110 million renovation that converted the art deco office building into a luxury boutique hotel.

The renovation by Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. and ESG Architects preserves the architectural aviation and art deco themes created in 1929 by the original designer and World War I pilot Rufus R. Rand. But as a new four-and-a-half star hotel, it offers the public something new.

The structure, on the National Register of Historic Places, is the latest to join Tribute By Marriott’s boutique hotel group. It features aviation-themed lights, marble floors and engraved medallions at every turn. It sports two bars and restaurants (one with a retractable roof imported from Turkey), and an expansive $500,000 video wall on the skyway level that will drop jaws.

The custom wallpaper, restored terrazzo lobby floors — embedded with silver metal globes and moons — and a new $10 million staircase that carves through the tower’s 26 stories aim to dazzle. Maven Real Estate Partners, which bought the building in 2017, also installed an extensive exterior lighting system that can flood the tower in a million different color combinations.

The spectacle debuts during a raging pandemic that has stalled much U.S. travel and large swaths of the economy.

Twin Cities hotel occupancy rates fell to 29.7% as of Nov. 14, from 67% a year ago, according to STR, formerly Smith Travel Research. The American Hotel and Lodging Association predicts 67% of Minnesota’s 1,006 hotels could close without congressional aid.

The problematic timing has Rand co-owner Nick Peterson alternately “panicked and terrified” and “hopeful” his investors have the financial heft to weather COVID-19.

The “all gussied up” Rand Hotel project is the city’s latest to sit largely empty as developers await COVID’s retreat. Others include the newly completed Dayton’s Project on Nicollet Avenue and the gleaming Thrivent headquarters on Portland Avenue.

As hotel watchers root for the Rand, they insist there’s no crystal ball.

“Having a beautiful facility and being new gives these guys a leg up versus some other products in the market,” said Howard Anderson, board member of trade group Hospitality Minnesota and vice president of ZMC Hotels. “But their ultimate success in the [hotel] market all depends on how quickly the demand generators come back.”

Those generators include conventions, company travel, concerts and Twins and Vikings games, among others. STR predicts hotel reservations won’t bounce back until late 2022.

But that hasn’t stopped Peterson, who opens the Rand this week, much earlier than the original April 2021 timeline. The energetic developer, who grew up in the west metro and normally restores beat-up apartment buildings in Minneapolis and Chicago, was excited to show visitors his first hotel earlier this month.

“Isn’t this awesome. Look at this!” said the Maven Real Estate co-founder recently while entering his favorite guest room overlooking Marquette Avenue and 6th Street.

While thrilled by the views, design and history, Peterson quickly noted the nearly hospital-grade air-filtration system, the air-quality monitors in each room, and

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Travel Products Made By Women

As small business owners have been hit hard by the pandemic-related economic brunt, consider their products and services as holiday gift options. In buying what they make to give to others, it’s a way of giving back by financially supporting them in return. Here are our gift suggestions for travel-related or inspired products by women business owners and entrepreneurs.

“The Dining Traveler Guide to Puerto Rico,” $39.95 

Food and travel writer Jessica van Dop DeJesus — also known by her brand’s name, “The Dining Traveler”  — enlisted documentary photographer Italo Morales to go on a month-long journey across Puerto Rico. The result of their collaboration is this pictorial guide to this island, which transports readers through photography, accounts from locals, and a more in-depth look at Puerto Rico’s lesser-known regions.

Customized Road Trip Guides, CrushGlobal, varied pricing

Through her travel company, Kristin Braswell has developed a series of U.S. road trip guides focusing on not only places to go to but also emphasizing inclusivity across the travel and hospitality spectrum. Each guide lists businesses that are black, women and/or LGBTQ-owned, recommendations for culinary, outdoor and other personal interests, and notes regarding any safety precautions and COVID-19 mandates. Custom itineraries begin at $299 and can vary based on how many days and experiences. Ready-to-use guides range from $29 to $59 and cover Northern and Southern California, the Northeast, and the South.

Food Tour In A Box Series, Global Tours Connect, starting at $35

Co-run by Midgi Moore and Lauren McCabe Herpich, to support fellow women food tour operators, Global Tours Connect offers themed and boxed epicurean experiences with food products from various U.S. destinations. Get wild Alaska salmon or goodies sold at Cincinnati’s historic Findlay Market or key lime delectables from Key West.

Shampoo and conditioner bar travel sets, Unwrapped Life, $32

A plastic-free beauty brand by sisters Allison and Arden Teasdale, Unwrapped Life’s line of shampoo and conditioner bars suit various hair types and needs. The bars are described as being vegan and cruelty-free and can last at least up to 50 washes. They all come with a pair of rust-resistant matte gold travel tins.

Quick Dry Microfiber Travel Towel With Pocket, DryFoxCo, $39.95

Samantha Peck came up with a solution for making towels able to store your valuables — as in your phone — and be less susceptible to getting and staying soaked. Her lightweight and quick-drying design does incorporate a water-resistant pocket for securing valuables and can fold up to fit in a daypack.

Various Gift Sets, Naples Soap Company, starting at $30

Nurse-turned-entrepreneur Deanna Wallin started experimenting with making soaps to find a solution for treating her child’s

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‘Very concerned’ about Thanksgiving travel

Duration: 10:01

Adm. Brett Giroir joins CNN’s Dana Bash to discuss his concerns about the potential spread of coronavirus as Americans return from Thanksgiving travel.

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10 Of The Best ‘Buy Now, Travel Later’ Deals

Planning future travel, whether that’s in a few weeks or a few months, is part of the enjoyment for many people. The excitement and anticipation of an upcoming trip can be motivating at work or for kids in school. Travel companies have been working especially hard to encourage travel planning, which also helps to support industry jobs in the process.

Robots, road trips, and hygiene and wellness managers will continue to be part of travel in 2021 as hotels and airlines work hard to reassure travelers that the experience is safe.

To encourage future travel, these companies are providing flexible travel policies and extra incentive to pay for travel now regardless of when you actually take the trip. The anticipation and excitement of a future trip may be the ideal gift for the holidays this year.

The Leading Hotels of the World Stay It Forward certificates

Stay It Forward certificates pack in extra value at a time when hotels, and their employees, may need it most. Hotels are donating 100 percent of the funds from these prepaid certificates to employees facing financial hardships or charities in their communities.

Valid through 2022, the $1,500 certificates include a two-night stay at double occupancy, special onsite experience (like wine blending in Argentina or behind-the-scenes tours of the kitchen at The Ritz London), a year-long membership in the Leaders Club program (normally $175 per year), and 1,500 Leaders Club points (a free night starts at 3,000 points). Participating hotels include Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, Croatia; Paradisus Los Cabos, Mexico; and The Vines Resort & Spa in Mendoza, Argentina.

Six Senses Plan Now, Play Later certificates

Available for purchase between now and Dec. 20, these prepaid certificates come with an additional 20 percent credit that can be used on-property for activities, food and beverage, or spa. Six Senses’ Plan Now, Play Later certificates are valid for three years from the date of purchase at participating resorts around the world. Travelers can choose the amount they want to purchase, starting at $1,000, and the specific property where they plan to use it. Six Senses guests are eligible to earn points in the IHG Rewards Club program, too, adding even more value to these certificates.

Montage Hotels & Resorts Spirit of Now offer

The Montage Hotels & Resorts group is offering a Spirit of Now package that includes a $100 resort credit for each night reserved (as much as $300 for certain suite and residence reservations) in advance and a complimentary upgrade, based upon availability, at check-in. For those that

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Michigan DNR awards nearly $2M in recreation grants to 18 communities

LANSING, Mich. – Nearly $2 million in recreation grants will go to local park and trail improvements and developments.

Eighteen communities will the funding, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Projects include trailhead development in Marquette County, recreation center renovation in Oakland County and park improvements in Crawford County.

The department received 59 grant applications that sought $6.5 million for local funding.

The DNR’s recreation passport program has awarded about $12.7 million in grants since being introduced in 2010. The program is tied to license plate registration renewals and more than a third of Michigan registered vehicles now have the recreation passport on their license plate tabs.

Ten percent of every recreation passport sale goes to the grant program.

A recreation passport is required for vehicle entry into Michigan’s 103 state parks, 140 state forest campgrounds, hundreds of miles of state trails, historic sites, hundreds of boating access sites and other outdoor spaces.

“We’ve seen an upswing in the number of visitors coming out to use Michigan state parks, trails and other outdoor opportunities, as people look for COVID-safe ways to relax and get exercise,” said Ron Olson, DNR Parks and Recreation Division chief. “Those visitors represent a direct investment in state parks and local parks, because about $1 from every Recreation Passport purchased funds those local park and recreation grants.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Talent man pleads not guilty in killing of Black teenager in Ashland hotel parking lot

A Talent man pleaded not guilty Friday to a murder charge stemming from the shooting death of a Black teenager Nov. 23 in the parking lot of an Ashland hotel, the Jackson County District Attorney’s office said.

Robert Keegan, 47, pleaded not guilty to four criminal counts at his arraignment, including second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, reckless endangering and unlawful possession of a weapon. Keegan is being held in custody without bail until his next court date Feb. 22, 2021, officials said.

Keegan is accused of shooting 19-year-old Aidan Ellison in the chest and killing him in the parking lot of the hotel where they were both staying as guests.

Ashland and Phoenix police responded to reports of a shooting in the parking lot of Stratford Inn at around 4:20 a.m. When officers arrived, they found Ellison dead with a single gunshot wound to his chest.

Keegan, who was still at the scene, was arrested and taken to Jackson County Jail, officials said.

According to Ashland police, Keegan and Ellison, who did not know each other, were arguing when Keegan took a gun out of his coat and fired a single shot at Ellison’s chest. Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said in a since-deleted statement on Facebook that the pair were arguing about Ellison playing loud music in the parking lot. O’Meara later posted a clarification to his statement on Ashland Police’s Facebook page Thursday.

“The only thing that caused this murder was suspect’s actions, 100%. It is completely immaterial what led up to it,” O’Meara wrote. “Yes, there was an argument over music, no, this did not happen because of loud music, it happened because the suspect chose to bring a gun with him and chose to use it, 100% on him, not the poor young man that was murdered.”

The shooting drew condemnation from Southern Oregon’s Black community, which raised concerns about the area’s culture and history of white supremacy.

“The murder of Aidan Ellison is another example of Southern Oregon’s racist history with and current practice of white supremacy,” wrote Southern Oregon Black Leaders, Activists and Community Coalition in a statement. “Aidan was murdered because he was a young Black person who made a white man uncomfortable and refused to submit to that man’s personally-perceived authority – not because he was listening to music too loudly.”

SOBLACC has planned a meeting for Dec. 7, inviting Black people living in Southern Oregon to come together and discuss priorities for their community.

A candlelit vigil to remember Ellison was held at the Stratford Inn parking lot Thursday night. According to KOBI-TV in Medford, Southern Oregon activists are planning a rally Dec. 2 at the Jackson County Courthouse.

Gun control advocacy group Oregon Moms Demand Action released a statement Saturday highlighting a 2020 statistic showing Black Oregonians are dying of gun homicide at five times the rate of white Oregonians.

“We’re horrified,” said Amie Wexler, a volunteer with gun control advocacy group Oregon Moms Demand Action, said in a statement Saturday.

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