September 28, 2009

Frightfully Fun Events for Families This Halloween

Universal Studios Orlando - Movie monsters such as the Wolfman, Jigsaw and Chucky come to life on Halloween Horror Nights. The Wolfman movie doesn't hit theaters until February but Universal guests will get a preview of the character and his obsessions at the park. Other horror films and characters include re-imagined classics like Frankenstein and Dracula, along with haunted houses, live shows and costumed actors.

Walt Disney World® Resort – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in the Magic Kingdom features trick-or-treating with Disney characters in their finest Halloween outfits, a HalloWishes fireworks show where the Disney villains go trick-or-treating in the sky, and Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade. Separate event ticket is required, for select dates between Sept. 4 and Nov 1.

Disneyland® Resort – Halloween Screams, a bewitching display of fireworks and breathtaking effects, will be shown select nights between Sept. 25 and Nov. 1. Space Mountain will turn into Ghost Galaxy with sinister sound effects and creepy cosmic creatures lurking around every corner. Jack Skellington and his creepy crew are back for another Halloween/Christmas monster mash-up at Haunted Mansion Holiday. And guests of all ages can enjoy crafts & activities plus lots of spook-tacular entertainment at Mickey’s Trick or Treat party (separate event ticket required).

Hawaii – Lahaina (Maui) is famous for having the biggest Halloween party in Hawaii. The festivities are often compared to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, although more family friendly, at least until sunset when things can get a bit rowdy. In fact, events are kicked off with a Children's Costume Parade. Ichabod's Haunt" spooky attraction on Front Street offers not-so-scary children's shows from 1:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu offers a Haunted Lagoon canoe ride beginning Oct. 2. The Hallowbaloo Music and Arts Open Air Street Festival will take place in the Downtown Honolulu Arts District on Oct. 31. Kauai activities include a cornfield maze at the Kauai Christian Fellowship Church in Koloa, and a haunted house and costume parade at Hanapepe Town Park. And the Big Island features an all day block party in Kailua-Kona on the Alii Drive waterfront, including live entertainment and costume contests.

Las Vegas – I don’t normally recommend Las Vegas as a kid-friendly destination, but older children who enjoy haunted houses and horror movies may enjoy the award-winning Fright Dome at Circus Circus. Beginning Oct. 2, the hotel's Adventuredome theme park transforms into a frightful experience, including five haunted houses (two themed after the legendary SAW horror movies), 23 rides & attractions, a Freak Show, and a haunted 4-D FX theater.

California - In San Jose, the Winchester Mystery House offers special flashlight tours and trick or treating in the gardens. And Half Moon Bay is host to a world famous pumpkin festival on October 17 & 18. Here families can see pumpkins bigger than Volkswagens and watch the "Picasso of Pumpkin Carvers" create a masterpiece out of a 1000+ lb gourd. The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay has rooms beginning at $399 per night including these exclusive amenities for clients of Virtuoso agencies:

• Breakfast for two daily ($60 Credit)
• $85 Wine Flight Voucher to Eno
• Upgrade at check in based on availability

For more information about planning a fun family vacation for Halloween or any other holiday, contact Suzette Mack at suzette@family-treks.com.

September 15, 2009

Four Seasons' Sweet Deals on Suites and More

Four Seasons is making luxury more affordable for families with several great deals on suites or guaranteed connecting rooms.

At Four Seasons Las Vegas, buy one night get one free on suites. No limit on the number of nights, and the offer is good through December 30. My clients also receive exclusive amenities such as a $100 spa gift certificate and breakfast or dinner daily!
The Four Seasons Resorts in Hawaii have family offers through mid-December. On Maui, get a second ocean view room at 50% off. On Lana’i, families receive special rates on guaranteed connecting rooms and 4 hours of nanny service at both the Lodge at Koele and Manele Bay.

Four Seasons Hualalai on the Big Island announced the Family Connecting Package which includes daily breakfast and dinner for up to five, a “date night” for mom & dad, and one family activity when booking a one or two bedroom suite.

Four Seasons Bora Bora offers 50% off a second bungalow for families traveling with children, or a complimentary fifth night through December 18. At Chill Island, teens can hang out on their own private beach, playing volleyball, table tennis and enjoying beach barbecues and kite-surfing lessons. Exclusive amenities for my clients include a spa gift certificate $100, airport transfers, daily breakfast, and an indigenous Polynesian gift.

Four Seasons is known for family-friendly luxury. All resorts offer a complimentary Kids For All Seasons program with activities for ages 4-12. In the summer and during school holidays, some hotels even provide a Teen Concierge. And baby furnishings and toiletries are always complimentary as well.

I have many other exclusive offers at Four Seasons hotels worldwide. For more information, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Specialist at suzette@family-treks.com

September 10, 2009

Don't Want To Be Home for the Holidays?

Then take a look at what some travel suppliers are offering families for the upcoming holiday season:

Villas of Distinction is offering a $500 credit on Christmas or New Year’s villa reservations made by October 9. Pioneers in the villa rental field, they offer luxury villas in the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, Tuscany, Italy, and the South of France, ranging from two to twenty bedrooms. They are also full service travel planners, who can assist with airfare, car rentals, and concierge services.

Princess Cruise Line
has space is available several holiday sailings, including:
Dec 19 Mexico cruise on Sapphire Princess out of LA
Dec 20 Southern Caribbean cruise on Caribbean Princess out of San Juan
Dec 19 Western Caribbean cruise on Crown Princess out of Ft Lauderdale.

Princess makes it easy to have a Happy Hanukkah, Christmas or New Year, with ships trimmed in festive holiday decor, and a special dinner featuring traditional favorites such as roast turkey, mincemeat pie, and chocolate Yule logs. Children can make ornaments for the ship's Christmas tree, and participate in a holiday play which they perform for passengers. On Christmas day, Santa Claus makes a surprise appearance, bringing joy and gifts to each child on board.

Ceiba del Mar, a luxury boutique resort in the Riviera Maya, has scheduled fun family events for the holidays. On Christmas Eve, children can smash a piñata and go caroling on the beach, and families will enjoy traditional Mexican and American Christmas dinners. Guests can dance under the stars to lively music each evening, enjoy a Fire Show, and celebrate New Year’s Eve with a scrumptious feast.

Ritz Carlton Kapalua is offering 6th night free from Dec. 23 – Jan. 3. The luxurious Maui resort recently underwent a $180M transformation which included renovated rooms, re-designed restaurants, an Environmental Education Center, and a new children's pool. The Ritz Kids program has also been enhanced, and now features Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ambassadors of the Environment program, offering an environmental and cultural education center with excursions led by expert naturalists.
And for an “over the top” experience, celebrate an authentic Renaissance Christmas in a chateaux in the Loire Valley. Up to fourteen guests can have exclusive use of the ancestral home of Count and Countess de Vanssay. Château de La Barre’s special Christmas package includes champagne and chocolates, a cheese and vintage wine tasting dinner, a Renaissance dinner at Leonardo da Vinci’s home, and chauffeured car service for New Years’ Eve.

For help with planning a memorable and stress-free trip for the holidays, contact Suzette Mack, Family Travel Advisor, at suzette@family-treks.com

September 4, 2009

Hot Off the Press From Disney Destinations

Castaway Cay, Disney Cruise Line’s private island, is undergoing several upgrades to accommodate new ships being added to the fleet. Stingray Adventure has been relocated to provide 700 more feet of family beach area. Additional water play areas include Pelican Plunge, with two corkscrew slides, and Scuttle’s Cove, a supervised area for younger children with geysers and water jets. Twenty new private cabanas will provide the privacy and luxury of a deluxe beach retreat, with the optional services of a cabana host.

Disney Cruise Line
has laid the keel of the Disney Dream, a 2,500-passenger ship scheduled to enter service in 2011, which will be followed by the Disney Fantasy in 2012. Design details will be revealed later this fall. The ships will be based at Port Canaveral, which is also being upgraded and expanded.

Disney Cruise Line has also extended their Kids Sail Free promotion to select 3 and 4 night sailings this winter and spring. Kids currently can sail free on select Med sailings in April and May.

Walt Disney World dining reservations can be made 180 days in advance beginning October 27, including reservations for dinner shows and character meals. The dining plan is a great value for families, as we found during our trip this summer.

Adventures by Disney is offering Signature Trips in 2010 which feature upgraded accommodations and meals, and special elements for an even more extraordinary vacation. For example, Viva Italia Signature includes a privately guided visit of the Vatican City Museum, a pasta making class, and a trip to the Murano Glass Blowing Factory.

Studio Disney 365 is now open at Disneyland. Kids can be made over to look like their favorite Disney Channel star, then meet their fans and have their picture snapped by the waiting paparazzi.

The Disneyland Hotel has begun a major renovation which will bring a contemporary design to the rooms, and a new energy efficient exterior. Rooms will showcase new headboards carved with the image of Sleeping Beauty Castle, and a magical skyline with fiber optic fireworks. Sky blue reflective glass windows on the towers will give the outside a sleek, radiant look, and will also be energy efficient and reduce outside noise.

The Disneyland Hotel renovation is a part of a larger expansion project throughout the resort, culminating in 2012 with the opening of an all new land - Cars Land. Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is also adding 200 hotel rooms and 50 two-bedroom villas, which will be part of the Disney Vacation Club.

For help with planning your next family vacation, contact Suzette Mack at suzette@family-treks.com.