Travel:

Mexico and the Caribbean Idaho Dominican Republic Valley Forge High-Speed Rail Fly Yourself And Save Pigeon Forge

Healthy Spa

All-inclusive resorts create lasting family memories.

(NAPSI)—Think back. Chances are that some of your most cherished childhood memories started on your family vacation. Simple fun from a simple time—your parents made it look so easy. Now it’s your turn! And it really can be that easy with all-inclusive vacations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

In general, all-inclusive includes accommodations, all meals, snacks, unlimited beverages (soft and alcoholic), nonmotorized water sports and other activities, as well as nightly entertainment.

Both Mexico and the Caribbean offer luxurious resorts with attentive service, spectacular beaches, brilliant blue waters and warm surf. And access couldn’t be easier with convenient flights on major carriers.

The hardest part of the whole trip may be deciding between these two idyllic options. Mexico can be less expensive but the Caribbean offers exceptional values. It may just come down to your personal taste and what you’re hungry for: savory Mexican cuisine warmed by a blend of roasted chilies, or tangy jerk dishes infused with exotic Caribbean spices. Either way, you’re sure to create memories that last a lifetime!

For more information, contact Pleasant Holidays at 1-800-448-3333 or at www.PleasantHolidays.com.

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Finding A Natural Fit For Your Location

NAPSI)-For many manufacturers and entrepreneurs, finding the right location for their business means more than square footage and reasonable costs. It’s about location—literally—because the location is a natural fit for their business.

For Mark Coffman, president of Lucky Bums, which makes technical and functional gear for kids, the state of Idaho is a perfect location for his business. “We can field-test the ski clothing with our own kids on a day trip to the ski resort or hiking and camping gear in the mountains and rivers just a few minutes from our headquarters,” said Coffman, whose company is based in Boise. “Here, you get urban efficiency with rural lifestyle.”

Some companies need to consider whether their location is a natural fit for the type of products they produce. Surfboards designed in China, for instance, wouldn’t have the credibility among aficionados that a label from Maui would have.

A number of outdoor-oriented companies have located in the northwestern state because of the variety of its terrain and outdoor culture. Everything from fly-fishing poles to ski goggles are designed, tested and manufactured there, taking advantage of the natural laboratory.

When does location matter? Outdoor equipment manufacturers in Idaho cite these advantages to matching their product to their company’s location:

• Credibility. The Scott Company, makers of ski equipment, started in Sun Valley, the legendary ski resort known for its luxury, killer slopes and its appeal to the rich and famous. The company was launched in 1958 by Ed Scott, a ski racer and engineer. While the company has grown enormously with operations around the world, it maintains its headquarters in Sun Valley.

• Natural laboratory. SJX Jetboats in Lewiston finds having the Snake River right outside its office door a benefit. The company can easily test its equipment on a river that offers both turbulent whitewater and shallow drafts.

• Knowledgeable labor force. At Lucky Bums, employees live the outdoor life, so they are familiar with how the products will be used. Employees will understand customer needs on a personal level, so they can be a more valuable resource to the company.

• Lower costs. Business costs can drop dramatically in a more rural setting, depending on the needs of the company. Buck Knives moved from San Diego to Post Falls, Idaho—a move that enabled the company to move manufacturing back to the United States from China.

To learn more about finding the right business location, visit www.commerce.idaho.gov/building-your-business.

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Dominican Republic A Haven For Whales And Ecotourism

(NAPSI)—The idea of whales making an annual migration to the Caribbean may sound like a fish tale, but it’s not. In fact, it turns out that one of the best places for whale watching is a destination many consider a tropical paradise.

With 25 percent of its lush green land and pristine coastal areas protected as national parks, reserves and sanctuaries, the Dominican Republic—also known as the DR—is thought to be the most biodiverse country in the Caribbean and is a major destination for ecotourists, most notably for whale watching along the Samaná Peninsula.

A migration destination

Each winter, 3,000 to 5,000 whales migrate to the warm crystalline waters of the Bay of Samaná. Whale-watching season begins in mid-January and continues through the end of March; however, excursions are available as long as whales remain in the bay.

These gentle creatures migrate with intentions of mating and giving birth. While the males assertively romp in the outer bays competing for females, the females reside along the shallow waters of the inner bay to provide a nursery for their young.

Whale-watching tours are offered along the Northeast Coast and in Samaná Bay, a part of the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of the Dominican Republic. The sanctuary surrounds the Peninsula of Samaná and is considered one of the first whale sanctuaries in the world. There, visitors can observe the humpback whales and listen to their song at close range without endangering them or risking their own safety.

An ecotourism leader

For decades, the DR has been a leader in the preservation of sensitive ecosystems in the region. It has developed partnerships with leaders such as The Nature Conservancy, the United Nations and the Smithsonian to establish powerful environmental protections.

“Our reserves, magnificent sanctuaries and pristine beaches are a vital tourism draw. The DR offers an array of eco-friendly activities for travelers to pursue adventures that best promote conservation and preservation,” said the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.

For example, along the North Coast, travelers will discover the scenic 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua and Cabarete Bay, thought to be an ideal location for kiteboarding, cascading, scuba diving, surfing, boogie-boarding and more.

To learn more, visit www.GoDominicanRepublic.com.

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Every Season Offers A Reason To Visit Valley Forge

by K. Bailey Fucanan

(NAPSI)—History often paints Valley Forge and its pivotal winter encampment with unrelenting skies, white smoke and brown, muddy campsites. But today, more than 230 years later, the area’s stunning landscapes evolve brilliantly with each new season.

Much like Washington, D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms, Valley Forge National Historical Park boasts an explosion of flowering dogwoods every spring. Planted in honor of George Washington, a blanket of pink and white generally arrives between the last two weeks of April and first two of May.

Lacy dogwood blossoms also dot the miles of trails along the Perkiomen Creek at the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove Wildlife Sanctuary. Here, at the artist/naturalist’s first home in America, is where Audubon learned to paint birds in natural poses and created his world-famous, four-volume “Birds of America.”

Each spring, purple pansies and violas populate a man-made mountain at Ott’s Exotic Plants in Schwenksville, showcasing the family-run nursery’s tremendous selection of annuals, seasonal plants, vegetables and succulents. Along with the advent of autumn and its changing leaves, look for a kaleidoscope of fall colors on the spectacularly transformed “Mum Mountain.”

For many reasons, fall reigns supreme as the area’s most spectacular season. While the arrival time of peak grandeur varies each year, it’s generally safe to plan a visit between late October and early November.

Visitors often start their quest for color at Valley Forge National Historical Park. The National Park Service has named it one of America’s top 10 national parks for leaf peeping.

From the observation deck at close-by Fort Washington State Park, some 30 species of mature trees create a rich, warm palette. From September through October, hawks and other birds of prey soar high above in an airborne parade. From Valley Forge, take the Pennsylvania Turnpike east two exits to Fort Washington.

Birches, elms, maples and oaks comprise the most colorful trees lining the area’s 55 miles of trails. Perkiomen Trail parallels the Perkiomen Creek and provides regional access to Central Perkiomen Valley Park in Schwenksville, among others.

In winter, Valley Forge and Montgomery County become a wonderland of winter recreation, from cross-country and downhill skiing and sleigh riding to exploring the great indoors of museums, malls, theaters and historic sites.

To plan an escape to Valley Forge and Montgomery County or for more information on hotel packages, visit www.valleyforge.org.

K. Bailey Fucanan is director of communications for the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Survey Shows High-Speed Rail Is Gaining Support

(NAPSI)-A majority of U.S. travelers report they are on track with the idea of using high-speed rail. That’s the word from experts who say a recent large-scale study shows that nearly two-thirds of adults (62 percent) said they would definitely or probably use high-speed rail service for leisure or business travel if it were an option.

Travel time and cost are key

Convenience and saving money were key factors for whether travelers would choose high-speed rail service over other modes of transportation.

For example, when asked which factors would likely influence their decision to choose high-speed rail service, survey respondents mentioned:

• Shorter travel times compared to driving (91 percent);

• Less expensive than flying (91 percent);

• Less expensive than driving (89 percent); and

• Integration with local public transit so I can avoid use of rental cars, cabs and parking fees (85 percent).

Time and the environment

Other factors survey respondents ranked as important included shorter travel times compared to flying (80 percent) and environmental concerns (75 percent).

Providing jobs and options

American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William Millar said, “We strongly support the government’s commitment to implementing high-speed rail. It will provide more options for travelers, as well as create jobs and be a strong boost for the local economy.”

Investment proposed

APTA proposes that Congress invest $50 billion over the next six years in high-speed rail. The association says the investment during that time frame, along with $123 billion in public transportation investment, will help support and create 6.2 million jobs.

The survey of 24,711 adults, was conducted for APTA by Synovate, a leading market research firm.

APTA is a nonprofit international association of more than 1,500 public and private member organizations engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne passenger services and high-speed rail.

To learn more, visit www.apta.com or call (202) 496-4800.

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Save Time And Money: Fly Yourself

(NAPSI)-Americans of all ages and stages of life have become airplane pilots. If you’ve ever dreamed of joining them, there could be good news for you.

First, whether you use it for business or for pleasure, having your own pilot’s license can help you avoid the costly delays, annoying restrictions and risk of lost luggage that can come with having to take commercial flights.

Next, it can be easier to achieve than many people realize. Here are a few of the myths that can keep people grounded and the facts that may let them soar:

Myth: I don’t have the time and money.

Fact: While learning to fly isn’t quick or inexpensive, you can set your own pace and pay as you go. The total cost generally runs from $5,000 to $9,000, depending on the type of pilot certificate. The FAA sets flight-hour minimums for each certificate. Training for a private pilot certificate typically takes between 40 and 70 hours, which can be spread over several months to a year or more.

Myth: Once I get my certificate, I can’t afford to buy an aircraft.

Fact: Most pilots don’t. As with cars, there are plenty of options, from renting to leasing to fractional ownership (think timeshare for an airplane). Find the option that suits you and fly with it.

Myth: I’m too young or too old.

Fact: There’s no minimum or maximum age requirement for taking lessons. But you do have to be at least 16 before you can solo an airplane (14 for a glider) and 17 before you can be issued a pilot certificate. A student pilot doesn’t mean you have to be young in age, just young at heart. One group, United Flying Octogenarians, is only for pilots 80 or older.

Myth: I won’t pass the medical requirements.

Fact: You don’t have to have superpowers to be a pilot. Don’t have perfect vision? It’s all right to wear contacts or glasses. Color blind? No problem, you can still fly during the day. Missing arms? That’s okay, fly with your feet. Don’t believe it? Check out Jessica Cox, the first person without arms to obtain a pilot certificate. Also visit AbleFlight.org for more information on learning to fly with physical disabilities.

Myth: It’s too hard to begin.

Fact: Getting started is easy. Visit www.LetsGoFlying.com, an initiative of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association—the world’s largest civil aviation association—for a wealth of information on learning to fly and a database of more than 3,500 flight schools.

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New And Different Vacation And Getaway Ideas

(NAPSI)-One of America’s favorite vacation destinations, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, offers new and exciting attractions for vacationers and weekend visitors.

Great Smoky Mountains Lumberjack Feud

The $10 million attraction combines the traditions and history of Appalachian timbering with modern-day lumberjack athletic competition. The 1,000-seat Great Smoky Mountains Lumberjack Feud will feature a picnic meal, a story line about two families feuding over timber rights, tree-climbing clowns, log-pulling horses, log-rolling bears, chainsaw carving, fishing contests and genuine competition between professional timber athletes.

For more information, visit www.LumberjackFeud.com.

Hatfields and McCoys

The Hatfield & McCoy Dinner Feud and Stunt Show opens this spring in the building that has housed the popular Black Bear Jamboree dinner show since 2002. It is a new, original show loosely based on the true story of the famous Hatfield and McCoy feud. The audience will be divided into Hatfield and McCoy seating areas, and the audience participates in the good-natured rivalry.

Dollywood’s $5.5 Million Barnstormer Ride

Dollywood opens its 26th season with the Barnstormer ride, a $5.5 million family thrill ride in a barnyard-themed setting.

Taking its name from the daring aerialists and stunt pilots of the 1920s, the Barnstormer features two pendulum arms with seating for 32 riders. Seated back to back, riders travel progressively higher on each swing, reaching 45 miles per hour and 230 degrees of rotation. For more information, visit www.Dollywood.com.

By the Ropes at WonderWorks

WonderWorks, the upside-down “amusement park for the mind,” has added the Space Walk Challenge, one of the nation’s largest indoor ropes challenge courses. It’s a three-story, glow-in-the-dark course with 45 obstacles. Because it is indoors, it offers a weatherproof challenge for families all year long.

For more information, visit www.WonderWorksTN.com.

Memories Theatre Moves Along

Memories Theatre, a mainstay of Pigeon Forge’s entertainment scene, is relocating to a different Parkway building—and Elvis, Willie Nelson, Tom Jones, Patsy Cline and the rest of the cast will continue singing.

Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at www.MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free to (800) 251-9100.

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Healthy Spa Industry Revives Interest In Management Courses

(NAPSI)-When deciding on a major, more students may soon focus on careers in healthy industries, such as spa management.

According to the International Spa Association, the spa industry generates over $12 billion in revenues each year and there are over 20,000 spas in the U.S. Despite the healthy growth of the spa industry, currently, only three universities provide bachelor’s degree programs with a spa management concentration.

At Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), the spa management program is offered in conjunction with the university’s Resort and Hospitality Management Bachelor of Science degree.

Students receive a traditional food, beverage and lodging hospitality education, as well as learn the complex management skills needed to operate the recreation facilities and services of high-end resorts and private clubs.

To receive the Spa Management concentration, students also complete five spa courses, including spa operations, wellness and healthy cuisine, treatments and services, and spa client experiences.

Beyond the coursework, each student will complete three internships in the industry before completing the degree.

FGCU’s campus is located on 760 acres in the heart of Southwest Florida’s hospitality playground of high-end resorts and private clubs. The University’s Division of Resort and Hospitality Management now has its own building, Herbert J. Sugden Hall. To enrich the student’s experience, Sugden Hall recently opened the first-of-its-kind campus spa laboratory. The lab is equipped with two dry treatment rooms, a wet treatment room, including a Vichy shower, hair and nail salon, locker facilities, retail space and a wet area, including steam, sauna and whirlpool.

Dr. Mary Wisnom, coordinator of the program, worked with spa industry leaders and professionals to create the working-model spa lab.

If you would like more information about FGCU’s Spa Management Concentration, contact Dr. Mary Wisnom directly at (239) 590-7854 or visit http://cps.fgcu.edu/resort.

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