WestJet increases traffic by 62 year over year flies a record 19

first_img Share Tags: WestJet Thursday, February 9, 2017 WestJet increases traffic by 6.2% year over year, flies a record 1.9 million guests in January Posted bycenter_img CALGARY — WestJet’s January traffic results saw a load factor of 80%, based on a 6.2% increase in traffic and a 6.3% increase in capacity. The airline flew a record 1.9 million guests in January, a year-over-year increase of 7.1% or about 123,000 additional guests.“We continue to be pleased with our strong traffic growth as a record number of guests chose to fly with WestJet in January,” said WestJet President and CEO Gregg Saretsky.Earlier this week WestJet relaunched its WestJet Rewards program with a simplified user experience and the ability to earn more rewards faster.The program has dropped its anniversary earn rate resets, and there are no more changing earn rates at different spend levels. Plus there are now three tiers and lower qualification to the Silver tier.Here’s a look at more highlights:WestJet flights and vacation packages earn rates tied to tier status at time of flight date.Teal members earn one per cent back on flights flown and 0.5% back on vacation packages.Silver members earn 3% back on flights flown and one per cent back on vacation packages.Gold members earn 5% back on flights flown and one per cent back on vacation packages.A simplified structure for Teal, with one set of earn rates on flights and vacation packages.A reduced spend to reach the Silver tier – $1,000 less than the previous requirement.A new priority support phone number, available to Gold members exclusively through the WestJet app.Milestone awards continue to be tied to qualifying flight spend in any given qualifying year.More news:  Apply now for AQSC’s agent cruise ratesGold flight benefits for eligible WestJet Rewards members include two free checked bags, advance boarding, no fee for same-day flight changes at check-in, 10 airport lounge vouchers, four advance seat selection vouchers, priority security screening at select airports and a priority support number. The Canadian Press << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

US EU hold urgent talks today about possible laptop ban expansion

first_img Friday, May 12, 2017 The Canadian Press Posted by BRUSSELS — European governments alarmed at a proposed expansion of the U.S. ban on in-flight laptops and tablets to planes from the EU are holding urgent talks today with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.Chief among the concerns are whether any new threat prompted the proposal, said European Commission transport spokeswoman Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, who confirmed the talks and said the EU had no new information about a specific security concern.U.S. officials have said the decision in March to bar laptops and tablets from the cabins of some international flights, mostly from the Mideast, wasn’t based on any specific threat but on longstanding concerns about extremists targeting jetliners.The U.S. Department of Homeland Security organized a telephone conference to take place Friday afternoon with “key European partners” – France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy. It will be a ministerial level call. The French attendee is expected to be Louis Gautier, secretary general for defence and national security.More news:  Canada raises travel warning amid escalating protests in Hong KongA French official with direct knowledge about Friday’s meeting said France planned to push back against the measure, saying there was no information to suggest a significant increase in the terror threat. Friday marks the final working day of the current French administration.The official spoke only on condition of anonymity to discuss the plan.Jenny Burke, a Homeland Security spokeswoman, said no final decision has been made on expanding the restriction.center_img << Previous PostNext Post >> US, EU hold urgent talks today about possible laptop ban expansionlast_img read more

Sandals Royal Barbados adds 6th dining venue

first_imgSandals Royal Barbados adds 6th dining venue Thursday, October 5, 2017 Tags: Sandals Resorts Posted by Sharecenter_img TORONTO — Sandals Royal Barbados will offer a sixth restaurant, Butch’s Steak & Seafood, when it opens Dec. 20.Butch’s Steak & Seafood is an upscale à la carte steakhouse serving the highest quality grain-fed Midwestern beef, hand-selected from top quality Black Angus and Wagyu steers, as well as seafood specialties including golden fried crab and pan seared scallops.The addition of Butch’s Steak & Seafood will give guests a combined total of 17 dining options to choose from with Sandals’ Stay at One, Play at Two program in Barbados, where Sandals Royal Barbados will open in a few months next to Sandals Barbados.The all-suite Sandals Royal Barbados is located in the St. Lawrence Gap area and includes several firsts for Sandals such as a rooftop pool, a 4-lane bowling alley and new dining options. Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Flair Airlines calls abrupt halt to new routes to Florida

first_img Share Tags: Flair Airlines << Previous PostNext Post >> Posted by The Canadian Press center_img Monday, February 25, 2019 Flair Airlines calls abrupt halt to new routes to Florida KELOWNA, B.C. — Flair Airlines has suspended several flight routes to Florida and California just months after expanding service to U.S. destinations.Citing “disappointing load factors”, the ultra-low-cost carrier based in Kelowna, B.C., called an abrupt halt to service from Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto to destinations including Miami, Tampa Bay and Palm Springs.The suspensions are effective this Thursday and come barely two months after the airline announced the new routes in a cutthroat North American market.Flair faces domestic competition from budget rival Swoop – owned by WestJet Airlines Ltd. – and Air Canada but competes with Air Transat for sun destinations in the U.S.Flair chief executive Jim Scott said in December that predatory pricing and scheduling by WestJet cost his budget carrier $10 million over four months and placed it in jeopardy as a “David and Goliath” battle culminated in an investigation by Canada’s competition watchdog.On Dec. 11, the Federal Court of Canada’s chief justice ordered a WestJet vice-president to appear before the Competition Bureau to explain the airline’s tactics.More news:  Help Princess Cruises break the world record for largest vow renewal at seaFlair says it is in the process of contacting all affected passengers and providing them with full refunds or alternative travel arrangements.last_img read more

War and Peace Remembrances of a reporter covering Costa Rica in the

first_imgBy Martha Honey | Special to The Tico TimesA quarter of a century ago, when President Oscar Arias was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as chief architect of the Central American Peace Plan, my husband, Tony Avirgan, and I were among a handful of international journalists based in Costa Rica. We chose to move to Costa Rica largely because we admired its strong commitment to non-militarism, democratic institutions and economic equity. Although the United States claimed to be promoting these values, sadly, we found that U.S. policies in the 1980s were undermining Costa Rica and pulling the country into the cauldron of conflicts in Central America. In reflecting upon this distant period, the Peace Plan stands out as a remarkable victory. It represented a clear line in the sand drawn by the five Central American presidents who, in defiance of Washington, agreed to negotiate an end to the isthmus’ various conflicts. Over the preceding five years, we and others had seen Costa Rica readied to serve as the Southern Front of the U.S.-backed Contra war against Nicaragua. When Luis Alberto Monge became president in 1982, the Reagan Administration offered a deal he wasn’t able to refuse: U.S. economic assistance in exchange for use of Costa Rica in the Contra war. Aid started to flow, and within a few years, Costa Rica became the second-highest per-capita recipient of U.S. economic assistance – surpassed only by Israel. The Southern Front, an alphabet soup of tiny Contra armies, was loosely united under the command of Edén Pastora, a former Sandinista military hero. Both the Reagan and Monge administrations officially denied the existence of the Southern Front and proclaimed that Costa Rica’s “unarmed neutrality” was being respected. But for those of us living in Costa Rica, signs of the clandestine Contra military and CIA operations were not hard to find. In March 1984, Tony and I helped produce an explosive series that ran simultaneously on ABC TV and in The New York Times. We revealed that Pastora’s military headquarters and radio station were based not “in the mountains of Nicaragua,” but rather in a large house in the hills of Escazú, southwest of San José. An embarrassed Costa Rican government quickly raided and officially closed Pastora’s Escazú headquarters. For us, this meant that Tony and I became personas non grata with the Reagan administration. U.S. Ambassador Lewis Tambs publicly called us “traitors.” The La Penca bombing, on May 30, 1984, altered our personal and professional lives forever, along with the lives of many others in Costa Rica’s press corps. Tony, who was on assignment for ABC TV, was among the several dozen journalists who traveled to Pastora’s press conference at a one-hut Contra encampment on the Nicaraguan bank of the Río San Juan. The La Penca bombing took the lives of three journalists – Costa Ricans Jorge Quirós and Evelio Sequeira and American Linda Frazier, who worked for The Tico Times. Seventeen others were injured, many very seriously. Our close friend Roberto Cruz would die years later, in large part from his wounds. Like other family members, I rushed to the San Carlos hospital where the La Penca bombing victims were being brought. Finally, at dawn, Tony arrived in the last ambulance. He was covered with shrapnel wounds, but as he smiled faintly at me, I knew he would live. Several days after the bombing, I was contacted by two U.S.-based journalist associations and asked to undertake an investigation into who was responsible for the La Penca bombing. We did not foresee that in the process of investigating this terrorist bombing we would stumble upon a much larger criminal enterprise, the Iran-Contra scandal. The evidence initially assembled by us and our colleagues, as well as Costa Rica’s judicial prosecutors, pointed to a covert network being run by National Security Council official Col. Oliver North, and involving John Hull, a group of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans, a team within the U.S. Embassy, collaborators in the Costa Rican government, and FDN Contra officials. In the course of our investigation, we received death threats, had one key witness murdered and were forced to protect another by arranging for him and his family to flee Costa Rica for exile in Canada. In mid-1985, we published our initial findings accusing Hull, Cuban-American Felipe Vidal and others of carrying out the La Penca bombing and using Contra supply planes to traffic cocaine from Colombia to the U.S. Hull retaliated by suing Tony and me in Costa Rica for libel and defamation of character. In May 1986, we managed to turn the tables by presenting a string of courageous witnesses who told the hushed, packed courtroom details of covert CIA and Contra operations in Costa Rica. The judge completely absolved Tony and me of all charges. As the courtroom erupted in applause, a grim-faced Hull quickly left, vowing, “This isn’t over yet.” However, the political tide was about to turn. That same month, the Arias government took office, and it was, we felt, a breath of fresh air. The administration, we came to realize, was determined to uphold Costa Rica’s core values of neutrality and non-militarism by closing down the Southern Front. Arias advisor John Biehl recalled later that Arias became “very angry” as he was briefed by U.S. Embassy officials on their extensive covert operations inside Costa Rica. “He never thought things had gone so far,” Biehl said. Arias himself said in an early interview that he was motivated not by fear of a Sandinista invasion, but rather by fear that unless the anti-Sandinista operations were disbanded, Costa Rica would end up fighting the Contra forces. One of Arias’ first actions was to privately tell U.S. officials he was closing a secret Santa Elena airstrip that had been built by North’s network to help resupply the Contras. On July 4, 1986, Minister of Natural Resources Álvaro Umaña and First Lady Margarita Penón first flew over the dirt airstrip that was next to the Santa Rosa National Park, in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. When, over the next months, park officials reported sighting large cargo planes circling the airstrip, its presence was “discovered” by the international press. Arias, whom North’s diaries reveal was referred to by U.S. officials as “the boy,” managed to snub CIA head William Casey by refusing to meet with him when he arrived unannounced in San José. And, during Arias’ tenure, Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly carried out investigations that implicated North, Hull, the U.S. ambassador and CIA station chief, and others in Contra-related drug trafficking and other “hostile acts” against Costa Rica. Judicial authorities reopened the stalled La Penca investigation, ultimately bringing murder charges against both Hull and CIA operative Felipe Vidal. Both fled the country. However, unanswered questions about the La Penca bombing have continued to haunt us. Through the ’80s, all serious investigations of the bombing had pointed to the CIA, but we had not discovered the true identity of the bomber. In 1993, we were shocked when Swedish journalist Peter Torbiörnsson finally confessed to us that he had been collaborating with the Sandinista Security Ministry and had brought the bomber known as “Hansen” to La Penca at the request of the Sandinistas (TT, Sept. 16, 2011). Other journalists managed to identify the bomber as a leftist Argentine guerrilla name Vital Roberto Gauine. He was part of a “special operations” unit, known as the Fifth Directorate, which was run by a top Cuban intelligence agent, Renán Montero, and Sandinista Interior Minister Tomás Borge. Despite such lingering questions, it is now, at this quarter-century mark, important to commemorate the crucial role of the Central American Peace Plan. As the Nobel Committee forecast, this plan paved the way for ending the region’s wars and transitioning to largely democratic elections. While real political stability and equitable development has continued to elude much of Central America, the Peace Plan remains a significant milestone. Arias showed that strength and security could come through dialogue and disarmament, rather than through waging war. He demonstrated that the leader of a tiny country located within what the U.S. calls its “backyard” could craft an independent diplomatic strategy without Washington’s approval. In pursuing a regional peace plan, Oscar Arias took the best of Costa Rica’s traditions – its commitments to peace, social and economic justice, and rational discourse – and elevated them to the level of international diplomacy. Martha Honey and her husband, Tony Avirgan, worked as international journalists in Costa Rica from 1983-1993. Martha is currently co-director of the Center for Responsible Travel, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and affiliated with Stanford University. Martha’s book, “Hostile Acts: U.S. Policy in Costa Rica in the 1980s,” carries a full account of the topics in this article. Facebook Comments No related posts.last_img read more

FlamingoPotrero News

first_imgNo related posts. Country Day School is planning a mission trip with nine students to Nicaragua from Jan. 28-Feb. 3, 2013. The chaperons for this trip will beDavid Spell, Maureen Thompson, Tad Powers and Sarah Haun. The purpose of this trip is to build homes, visit the orphanage, help at the feeding center and purchase/deliver food bags for those in need. The students hope to raise $6,000 to do all that has been planned, and they are asking for prayers and donations to meet their goal. For more information about how you can help, please contact Sarah Haun at Sarah_Haun@cds.ed.cr.Special events in December: at Marie’s Restaurant, a Christmas Bazaar will be held on Sunday, Dec. 16, noon-6 p.m. It will include live music and vendors with many handmade and unique items including jewelry, Christmas cards, clothing and art objects. Christmas carols will be sung on Monday, Dec. 24, at 6 p.m. Join Josh Wilson and Perry Carlile and enjoy a glass of Marie’s killer eggnog, along with the dinner special of roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy – all for $20. It will finally feel like Christmas.A Christmas party for the Children of Potrero takes place Dec. 25, at the Club de Niños de Potrero. All of the children from Potrero and the surrounding communities are invited. The idea is that the children (up to 350 are expected to attend) will receive one toy and a meal. This party is especially important for those children whose families aren’t able to provide a Christmas present this year. We ask your help with toys, food (hot dogs, hamburgers, drinks, apples, cookies, etc.) and monetary donations. Donations can be made at Marie’s Restaurant in Flamingo, La Perla Bar in Surfside, Super Catalinas in Potrero and the office of Abriendo Mentes in Potrero. If you have any questions or would like to donate or help at the party, contact Lindsay Losasso at lindsay@abriendomentes.org or 8704-3830. A New Year’s Eve party will take place Monday, Dec. 31, at 9 p.m. Ring in the New Year and enjoy live music with the Pacific Blues Band. Dinner and drink specials will be offered.Live Music with new entertainer Darin Talbot took place on Dec. 1 at the Happy Snapper. Dinner and drink specials were offered. For more information on upcoming events and specials, call 2654-4413.Dr. Carlos Santos, a dentist with 30 years of experience, has opened a new office at the Plaza Vista Verde in Surfside on the second floor. His prices are reasonable and he is open for 24-hour emergency calls. His office hours are Mon.-Fri. from 7 a.m.-noon and from 1-5 p.m. Saturdays are by appointment only. For more information, call Dr. Santos at 8788-9079.tbabehopkins@gmail.com Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Costa Rica could launch 7 new airline routes and add 2 carriers

first_imgAt least seven new routes between Costa Rica and destinations across the Americas could launch operations during the second half of the year, according to Costa Rica’s Civil Aviation Administration (DGAC).The agency has approved new routes for two carriers, and a third carrier’s request is pending.Colombia’s Avianca will open new routes between San José and Santiago,Chile, and San José and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both will include stopovers in Bogotá, Colombia. The routes already were approved and will begin operating on Aug. 16.The agency also approved a request by Cubana de Aviación to offer a nonstop flight to Havana, Cuba, starting as early as next month.U.S. low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways has begun the process of opening a new route from Liberia,Guanacaste, to Boston, in the eastern United States. If approved, JetBlue could begin offering service on Nov. 1.DGAC Director Álvaro Vargas said that authorization for new local carrier Air Costa Rica could be approved later this year. The company has applied for licensing to operate three routes between San José and Miami, Nicaragua and Panama, plus charter flights to San Andrés island in Colombia.Another local carrier, Ticos Air, began the process last year. Still pending are several technical requirements and formal requests for routes, Vargas said.Salvadoran carrier VECA also will submit in coming weeks a formal application to operate in Costa Rica and launch a San Salvador-San José route.Vargas said that so far this year two additional airlines have requested meetings with DGAC officials to discuss the country’s requirements to launch operations. Those airlines are Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras and Russia’s Transaero Airlines. Facebook Comments Related posts:New Costa Rican airline, Ticos Air, now hiring United Airlines announces more nonstop flights to Houston and New York during Christmas season More flights coming: Delta adds Minneapolis and LA routes to Costa Rica JetBlue announces new flight to Costa Rica from Boston starting in Novemberlast_img read more

Just say No to the War on Drugs Seeking a Latin American

first_imgThe War on Drugs is the Big Lie used to justify the militarization of Costa Rican police. The argument goes like this: A small country like Costa Rica cannot protect itself from highly armed drug lords without the help of the United States. We need to train police at places like the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas.In 2007, then-President Óscar Arias promised to stop sending Costa Rican police to WHINSEC for training. Several months later, and under great pressure from the U.S. government, Arias broke his promise and allowed the practice to continue. These events were documented in the Costa Rican press at the time and also were the subject of WikiLeaks revelations reported in the daily La Nación in March 2011. A lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of the use of WHINSEC is currently pending in Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV.Although cocaine is produced in countries like Colombia, it is consumed largely north of the Río Grande. Its path through Central America and Mexico, and U.S. efforts in the region to militarize the problem, has created a nightmare of violence, serious human rights abuses and corruption at high levels of government in many countries. And yet the drugs keep flowing.Drug-related corruption in Costa Rica is revealed through the headlines: “Golfito judge releases three Costa Rican suspects 24 hours after they were busted with 2 tons of cocaine”; “Top Limón judge arrested on suspicion of collaborating with drug traffickers”; “Little has changed 1 year after the slaying of Costa Rican conservationist Jairo Mora”; “Limon judge accused of conspiring with drug traffickers back behind bars.”The Tico Times published a recent Washington Post story by Joshua Partlow that describes the destruction of the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico, where the war on drugs has created anarchy and violence. Medical students have stopped wearing their white lab coats when leaving school, because they were being kidnapped by the cartel and forced to treat injured drug traffickers. “We are a failed state,” a student is quoted as saying. “There is no law. It is the rule of the gun.”Estimates of the number of lives claimed by the war on drugs in Mexico range from 80,000 to 120,000.The Mexican government has sent nearly 2,000 members of the military to WHINSEC, but their training has only exacerbated the crime and violence on both sides of the Río Grande. A story by SOA Watch, “U.S.-Trained Ex-Soldiers Form Core of Zetas,” documents the careers of some former members of the elite Special Air Mobile Force Group of the Mexican Army who were trained at SOA/WHINSEC and who now call themselves the Zetas. They were part of an elite battalion sent to Tamaulipas in 1995 to fight drug traffickers. The Gulf Cartel recruited them and hired them as assassins.The SOA Watch story quotes two experts. “There is a higher level of danger with the type of knowledge that these people have – their arms capacity, their knowledge of techniques and specialization in [drug] traffic operations,” said Luis Astorga, a drug-trade expert at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City.“They are extremely violent. They are very much feared for the bloodshed they unleash,” Joseph Santiago Vasconselos, Mexico’s top anti-drug prosecutor, told The Associated Press. The drug profits have led to increased corruption, money laundering, human trafficking and weapons smuggling.Earlier this year, The Tico Times published an interview with retired Col. Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin of CodePink and Theresa Cameranesi of School of the Americas Watch. These peace activists warned of the dangers of militarization and urged Costa Rica to stop sending police to WHINSEC. Their talks at the University of Costa Rica and the National University resonated with students who also do not want militarized police for their country. Some of these students, the future generation of Costa Rica, have suffered police brutality in response to nonviolent student protests.The Tico Times then printed a response from Lee A. Rials, WHINSEC’s public affairs officer. It was a version of his usual rebuttal of negative press reports regarding the school. Officer Rials argued that “graduate” is not an appropriate term for Latin American military members who attend the school. His objection was to statements claiming certain “graduates” of SOA/WHINSEC later became dictators of their home countries, or “graduates” of SOA/WHINSEC were later involved in serious human rights violations. He pointed out that some of them only attended a few classes and cannot properly be called graduates.The problem is – graduates or not – that some of these “attendees” at the school major in combatting drug trafficking. What better way to succeed in the lucrative, highly competitive drug business than to get the latest training in weapons, equipment and tactics from the experts at WHINSEC? View of guns seized during the arrest of Raúl Hernández Lechuga, an alleged member of the Los Zetas drug cartel, on Dec. 13, 2011. Ronaldo Schemidt/AFPCurrent Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís, in his pre-inauguration visit to Guatemala, expressed an interest in studying the drug problem. However, he did not advocate legalization. Several other current and recent presidents of Latin American countries are calling the war on drugs a failure. These leaders may offer a path to Latin American cooperation to successfully address the drug problem.We ask President Solís to study the results of programs to decriminalize drug use in countries like the Netherlands, Australia, Uruguay and Portugal. Starting today, the Fifth Latin American and First Central American Conference on Drug Policy will be held in Costa Rica, at San José’s Hotel Radisson. The two-day conference was organized by the Drug Policy Alliance and will be available for live streaming here. We urge members of the Costa Rican government and the public to attend this conference and learn about nonviolent alternatives to the War on Drugs.We also urge cooperation with other countries in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, which meets in January in the Costa Rican capital. We advocate a redirection of resources to drug prevention, treatment and education and programs to minimize the harm caused by drugs to those who abuse them.The poison of dangerous drugs destroys lives and families. But a militarized approach to fighting drugs not only fails to help, it also destroys communities, and can even destroy entire nations.Costa Rica, do not become another Mexico. Turn the War on Drugs into relief for drugs’ tragic consequences.•School of the Americas Watch, Costa Rica is a chapter of the international organization dedicated to closing the U.S. Army training school WHINSEC and stopping the flow of Costa Rican police to the school for training. Follow the V Latin American and I Central American Conference on Drug Policy on Twitter.For further recommended reading, see:Giber, John. “To Die in Mexico: Dispatches from Inside the Drug War.” 2011. San Francisco City Lights.Pacheco, Hernández, Daniel. “La Necesaria búsqueda de alternativas en la lucha contra las drogas.” El País de Costa Rica. Oct. 17, 2012.Negrete Lares, Angeles, “U.S.-trained ex-soldiers aiding drug cartel.” Brownsville Herald. Oct. 19, 2003.Karlin, Mark. “The School of the Americas, the CIA and the US-Condoned Cancer of Torture Continue to Spread in Latin America, Including Mexico.” Truthout. June 10, 2012.Mate, Gabor. “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction.” Facebook Comments Related posts:Drug policy in Central America criminalizes poverty, says Costa Rica Public Security Minister Colombia president supports allowing medical marijuana 92 percent of California patients say medical marijuana works Top medical experts say we should decriminalize all drugs and maybe go even furtherlast_img read more

Public employee protest takes over San Josés Second Avenue

first_imgRelated posts:Public employees, porteadores to demonstrate in Costa Rica’s capital Public workers threaten general strike if lawmakers approve bill reducing pay Costa Rica’s Solís denies secret agreement with unions on Monday’s strike For Solís, next key issue is striking workers in essential public services Facebook Commentslast_img

Transformational travel in Costa Rica Turning the flat world round

first_imgRelated posts:Nat Geo mini-series investigates Cody Dial’s disappearance in Corcovado National Park Barrio Chino aims to be San José’s next big food spot The sound of roaring water and the fear in my body drown out the encouraging shouts of my group behind me. I take one unsteady step forward. I am being turned around, my back to the drop, staring into smiling faces not knowing what lies ahead of them. I am forced to set a foot over the edge and start rappelling down a 150-foot-high waterfall.Starting with the tallest waterfall, I might as well have been thrown headfirst into my fear – but after I surfaced, I was ready to fall deeper. Jumping from waterfall to waterfall, the participants of the Transformational Travel Press Trip, organized by Desafío, Blue Butterfly and Toby Israel, encouraged each other further down the stream and began noticing not only our diminishing fear, but also a sense of solidarity developing within the group.I looked at a black marble in my hands, threads of gray winding around it. The fear of the unknown spiraling downward increases the more you think about it – a natural human reaction. But if you overcome that fear, you float in a space where possibilities are multiplied. I added the black bead to a chain of others I had already assembled, each one representing an activity carried out on the trip. (Photo Courtesy of Desafío)The recently developed term “Transformational Travel” involves experiences designed with the intention of transforming a person, a mindset or a surrounding, or enables participants to transform the people around them.When the trip began, I had felt misplaced in a crowd of people eager to talk about themselves. Their mouths narrated the stories burning on their surfaces. Other people’s words bounced off of their ears.We were sitting in a restaurant at the Juan Santamaría Airport, waiting for the last members of the group to arrive. A girl got up from a table across the room, carrying the big backpack that she had been living out of for the past two years, and steered herself toward our table. She a was a full-time freelance travel writer – and she had a lot to say.“Guys, I’ve been here for three days, staying at a wellness hotel up in Santa Bárbara. I really needed a break from all this traveling!” she said, throwing down her backpack, marking her territory as a professional. I imagined myself in a wellness hotel, unable to relax while counting my money.***A life apart from wellness hotels and press trips is the one of people living in Nicoya, Guanacaste. It is one of the currently said to be five Blue Zones worldwide, where residents have a higher life expectancy.“My grandfather is 85 years old,” said Digna Varela, a nurse from the area, as she showed us a picture of a man looking closer to 60. The oldest member of her family will soon turn 103.A sports writer and photographer from California asked the question burning on everyone’s tongue: “I don’t want to ask, ‘What’s your secret?’ but why do you live longer than the average person?” María Gapita Chavarría Cerrano is 84 years old and Blass Angulo Chinchilla is 91 years old. They’ve been married for 64 years and live in Carrillo. Mónica Quesada / The Tico TimesSeveral factors supposedly play a part in the high life expectancy of people living in Nicoya. One is their diet based on old traditions. Their meals consist mostly of beans, corn, rice and dried meat, prepared without fat. Growing and harvesting that food themselves assures that meals don’t include chemicals and also promotes daily exercise. Another potential factor is the exposure to a healthy amount of sunlight; their skin absorbs the vitamin D, which strengthens their bones and protects them from heart disease and other health issues.But the biggest factor might be the focus on family and social networks. Under Nicoyan roofs, you can easily find four generations living together. They acknowledge and embrace the importance of family and support each other in every way they can. They build a circle of community, every generation a part of it like different shades of red in a round stone. I added another bead to my chain.***“You think she’s successful? C’mon, she still stays at hostels,” one writer said when the conversation at the dinner table turned to gossip about a common influencer. Luckily, not everyone shared her opinion; choosing to stay at a hostel or the fanciest hotel does not define anyone as successful or unsuccessful, famous or insignificant, rich or poor. I felt another moment of misplacement, knowing that I belonged in a hostel with my backpacker friends. But the moment passed quickly as we had already established a sense of community.That sense of community holds a major significance in the work of the CREAR association in Guanacaste. It aims to transform lives by strengthening social networks and facilitating creative outputs. At the community gathering hall of Sámara, Guanacaste, they have established a space for children to come together and learn English or practice art.“They do learn English in school, but nowhere near enough. Art classes they don’t get at all,” said Lucy Mahlich Barreto, the administrative coordinator of the organization. Through CREAR, every child gets the opportunity to participate in after-school classes and activities. (Alissa Grosskopf / The Tico Times)We met about 10 children that day in the residential area of Sámara, known as Matapalo. Some of them were part of a growing organization called Patrulla Ecológica Infantil Matapalo Sámara (Children’s Environmental Patrol of Matapalo, Sámara), and one girl came running up to me to proudly show me its logo on her shirt.We then started creating signs to encourage people to protect the beach, which – as a community gathering space – is very important in Matapalo. There they have recently built a soccer field, a grandstand and benches, and they continue brainstorming community-involvement initiatives.“Don’t destroy the plants!” shouted one girl, suggesting a message to write on a sign.“Don’t destroy the signs!” shouted another boy, breaking the ice by making everyone laugh. (Alissa Grosskopf / The Tico Times)I looked over and noticed that the woman who had criticized a writer for staying at hostels was sliding the brush over our piece of wood, writing “Amamos este lugar” (“We love this place”) in cursive, drawing hearts behind the last word in careful detail.“Let’s put these cute swirls on them,” she suggested as a way to embellish the sign further. I looked up and saw our group mixed in with the local children, painting in a rage of careful creativity. The comment about the hostels was forgotten.Adding a green bead, run through by white color as if placed there with a paint brush, to my chain, I was smiling at the memory of the children’s excitement about nature and their desire to protect it.***From the children protecting the environment to adults: Juan Sostheim used to own a factory that produced chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting systems. He also helped introduce chemical products into agriculture.Those days are behind him.“I just noticed how there was no regard for the environment, there was no regard for the damage that was being done,” said Sostheim, explaining one reason why he had left the factory and chemical industry. But the main reason was the heart attack that he suffered, which was the drastic turning point of his life.“I was faced with either buying a sailboat and sailing all over the world with my children, or doing something a little bit maybe more meaningful for them in a way that I could enjoy the life that I wanted,” he recalled. Juan Sostheim showing his farm (Alissa Grosskopf / The Tico Times)Sostheim chose to buy a property near the southeast shores of Lake Arenal and turned it into Rancho Margot, which he says has been recognized as Costa Rica’s first carbon-negative company. Looking around the ranch – thriving with exotic plants, broad tree trunks, and the sounds of a diversity of birds – it is hard to believe this place used to be nothing more than a plain cattle ranch, 15 years ago.“I just took off on a mission, like a Don Quixote kind of mission, to go ahead and see if I could rid the world of chemicals,” Sostheim said. “And I’ve been on that track ever since.” Rancho Margot is growing part of the food for their animals on the farm. (Alissa Grosskopf / The Tico Times)“So that tree is only 15 years old?” a participant asked, pointing at a big trunk, its branches growing above our heads.“Actually, less than that,” responded Sostheim.“Wow. That’s crazy,” she said, impressed by what he had managed to build in that short of a time.After seeing how a perspective can change as much as Sostheim’s did, I picked up a blue, clear bead. It was flat, as people once believed the world to be. It reminds me there are constantly growing and changing perspectives on any given topic.***Back in our own lives, we were still working on our personal transformation by participating in different activities. One day during the trip, we had a visit from Teresa Descilo, a U.S. citizen who leads self-healing therapy sessions specializing in people who have suffered from trauma. For this activity I chose a black, simple rock because that is all it was for me: plain dark. While I could mostly relate with her informational introduction of the topic of trauma, the actual therapy session may have backfired on me.Everyone laid on his or her back, eyes closed, body relaxed. Descilo then turned on some disturbing music, telling us to take a sharp breath in and exhale slowly. As we continued this process for about half an hour, we began hyperventilating ourselves into a state of deep physical and mental pain. I felt tears running down my face and thought, “Wow, this really seems to help. I’m ridding myself of all the bad stuff inside of me” – but perhaps it was just a reaction to the physical pain. I wanted to get up and run out the door, but I was curious to see if this experience would play out the right way in the end.The next step was a sound therapy, consisting of laying on the floor in silence with our eyes closed, the sound of different pitched bowls enveloping us, “tuning” our organs. I remained still, exhausted from whatever had just happened to me and started dazing off into fractures of dreams.“Now, slowly open your eyes and find your way back to reality,” Descilo said.Gradually everyone came back to the space of the room: everyone, that is, except for one participant who seemed to have fallen asleep.“After the breathing part, I can’t remember anything!” she shouted out.“You were in that state of meditation,” acknowledged Descilo with a nod.Shuffling around like a zombie, I felt disconnected from the world for the rest of the night. If I hadn’t been traumatized before, I was now.***That unusual and partly uncomfortable experience was just one of the activities that helped me learn more about the other members of the group. Chunk by chunk, I collected insights, emotions, and dreams. While each one of us opened up to the group, I could feel my attitude toward them shift and transform.“Freelancing is a hard business,” said the writer who had talked about her wellness hotel visit that first day at the airport, admitting that everyone was struggling. Leaning against the edge of the warm pool of our hotel, we got the chance to talk one-on-one. She was looking out at the unsettled ocean, a different person from the one I got to know the first day. What I think had changed the most was not her or me. It was the way we knew each other a little bit better now and understood where the other was coming from.“I believe that sharing your thoughts with others is an important part of our own process,” explained one of the organizers in the context of thinking about our biggest successes and failures. I believe that sharing your thoughts with others is an important part of their process as well. The group in Matapalo with CREAR (Photo Courtesy of CREAR)As I added the last bead to my chain, I reflected on the plethora of different shapes, colors and textures. Each one carried a different meaning, a different mood, a different part of what transformation could look like.Sneaking a glance at the unique collections of beads the other travelers had assembled, I realized they symbolize how everyone needs a different set of experiences to enjoy, to grow and to transform. Not everything works for every person.But, I believe that at least a little part – a perspective, a view, an attitude – in all of us had shifted. And so we carried that change as we carried our beads back into our lives.This trip was organized by Desafio Adventure Company, Blue Butterfly Events, Toby Israel, and the Costa Rica Tourism Board. Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Millennial fitness in Costa Rica Twerkshop

first_imgRelated posts:Millennial fitness in Costa Rica: Pole sports On fitness, wellness and other demons: Basketball in Costa Rica Costa Rica to face Canada after winning start in CONCACAF Gold Cup Cycling: 12 riders caught taking EPO in Costa Rican race Jennifer Campos is a professional dancer with years of experience and one of the few Twerking specialists in the country. She has trained with the world’s best coaches and dancers. Through her academy, Twerkshop CR, she teaches the fitness class of twerking with choreography.Twerking is a dance style that originated in New Orleans in the 1980s that may be culturally connected to music genres and dances from the African continent and the Afro-Latin diaspora. Hip Hop artists and even pop culture have adopted twerking and made it part of the mainstream scene.However, twerking has also been stigmatized as just a provocative dance. For those who think that, Campos invites them to “come to the class and experience it for yourself.”So I did. I met with Campos and watched one of her classes to learn more about twerking and her academy.How did you become a Twerk instructor?“I have been dancing for 15 years. I first started with urban genres like hip hop and then contemporary dance and ballet. I have attended a fair amount of different dance classes, including Danza Abierta at the Universidad de Costa Rica, because dancing is something I truly love. That is how I was able to dance with artists such as Charly Black, Jeancarlos Canela, Sean Paul and Shaggy.“When I was in Hip Hop class, I would feel that my feminine energy was being repressed even though I really liked it, so I started doing research, looking for styles that would explore womanhood. For example, I remember that I was told that I should not move my hips that much, and then in my yoga classes I realized that there are women who are very disconnected from their hips. And that mind-muscle connection is important to gain flexibility. Then there is the taboo that a woman dancing on a stage is something bad, or if I want to embrace my sensuality when I dance, that is something bad as well.“Now the twerking classes have helped me and the rest of the ladies to ignore those labels and the fear that we cannot move our bodies in certain ways. But I decide how my body moves and what my dance represents no matter what other people say. So, for me, dancing is a means of empowerment.” (María José / The Tico Times)Who can practice twerking as a fitness class?“I have taught both men and women of all ages, and I love when I see older women attending the class, because my goal is to create a safe place where anyone can feel confident. The class is very intense, so I do not recommend it to pregnant women. It is mostly women who go to the class and, to be honest, I do promote it for women because I think about my experience and what I needed in the past. But everyone is welcome.”What should you wear to a twerking class?“It is basically anything you would wear to the gym, but I recommend wearing shorts for your muscles to be able to perform freely and for you to see them get activated. High heels are optional.”What are the health benefits of this twerking?“Twerking requires a lot of coordination, and even for a professional dancer or someone who has been dancing for a long time, the movements and choreography can be difficult. It is a full body workout, the pop (moving the glutes in and out) and the wine (moving the hips from side to side) are to be done in a squat position. At the same time, you must keep your core engaged to be able to move up and down and even upside down. It can burn up to 500 calories per hour, and it will sculpt and tone your body.”Campos says you will improve and gain strength, flexibility and coordination through her classes.The class is divided into two sections, beginning with a fitness part — during which you will stretch, do splits and headstands — and then choreography. Campos’s class lasts 90 minutes at a minimum, though many last beyond that.I had been following Campos’s Instagram account for a few months, so her class was in my to-do-list for a long time. I was sick the day I visited her academy, but Campos was right — the workout is intense. I watched the participants practice for two hours nonstop and was amazed by their strength.I also asked Campos how she handles having students at different levels in the same class. I have no coordination, and it would make me uncomfortable to be the only one who could not follow the routine. Campos replied that she enforces the idea of not thinking about doing a movement perfectly — it is not the result that matters, but the process itself. (María José / The Tico Times)Can Twerking improve your mental health?“I believe that one of the most important aspects of doing exercise is to strengthen the mind.”Campos says that building confidence is key. She provides her students the tools to stay away from the necessity of getting approval from others. Her workouts are instead about loving everything about yourself when you look in the mirror.You can find Twerkshop CR on Instagram and Facebook. The workshops are taught in different studios in San Pedro, Escazú, Heredia, and elsewhere. To book your first class, you can call 8337-5381 and be sure to mention The Tico Times sent you.María José Braddick is a Professional Translator who is also interested in Sports as Human Rights. She struggles with her love of sugar while trying to be healthy without it being boring and that is the journey she is trying to share. You can follow her on Twitter @cafeconmache Facebook Commentslast_img read more

Poor construction safety checks blamed for fatal China fire

first_imgBEIJING (AP) — A preliminary investigation into a nursing home fire that killed 38 people in central China has blamed poor building construction and lax safety checks, Chinese authorities reported.The State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement Wednesday that investigators found the bungalows of the Kangleyuan Rest Home in central Henan province were built with steel sheets stuffed with flammable materials. The government watchdog group also found poorly designed fire exits and insufficient emergency response and electrical systems. Chinese authorities have responded to the tragedy by ordering safety checks at nursing homes, kindergartens and other facilities around the country. They’ve also pledged to punish those responsible and have detained 12 people so far in connection with the blaze, including the rest home’s legal representative.The fire broke out Monday night in the privately run home for the elderly and prompted calls for investigations from top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping.Pictures of the fire site released by the official Xinhua News Agency showed sections of the facility had completely burned down. The fire engulfed a part of the facility reserved for people completely dependent on caregivers.Six people were also injured in the blaze, including two in serious condition.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober Patients with chronic pain give advice The vital role family plays in society Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facilitycenter_img Comments   Share   Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Sponsored Stories New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

12 hurt in Japan quake as life returns to normal

first_img Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Top Stories TOKYO (AP) — Twelve people suffered minor injuries and businesses returned to normal Sunday after a powerful earthquake near remote Japanese islands shook most of the country the previous night, but it was well beneath the earth’s surface and did not trigger a tsunami.The magnitude-7.8 quake struck off the Ogasawara islands Saturday night at a depth of 678 kilometers (421 miles), the U.S. Geological Survey said. Arizona families, Arizona farms: A legacy of tradition embracing animal care and comfort through modern technology It was followed by a magnitude-6.4 quake Sunday morning off Japan’s Izu islands, which are north of the Ogasawaras.The latest quake struck at a depth of 8 miles (13 kilometers) with the epicenter 390 miles (630 kilometers) southeast of Tokyo. It was not strong enough to generate a tsunami warning or close enough to the islands to cause any significant damage or injuries, said John Bellini, a USGS geophysicist in Golden, Colorado. He said it is considered a separate seismic event and not an aftershock from Saturday’s quake.Saturday night’s temblor was powerful enough to rattle most of Japan, from the southern islands of Okinawa to Hokkaido in the north. It caused buildings to sway in Tokyo — about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of the Ogasawara islands — and temporarily disrupted some train services in the city. About 400 houses in Saitama prefecture, just north of the capital, were without power, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co.At Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills shopping and business complex, elevators stopped soon after the magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck, forcing hundreds of visitors to climb down the stairs. Among them were about 200 people who came to see the Star Wars exhibit on the 52nd floor. New Valley school lets students pick career-path academies Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said that 12 people were injured, including with burns, cuts, bruises and from falls.At an inn on the Ogasawara island of Hahajima, furniture shook violently, although nothing fell or broke, innkeeper Michiko Orita told NHK. “It was so frightening. The entire house shook and a Buddhist altar violently swayed like I have never experienced before,” she said, adding that all her guests were safe.In March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake rocked northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 18,500 people and ravaged much of the northern Pacific coast. The depth of that quake was just 24 kilometers (15 miles), according to the meteorological agency.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Sponsored Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Comments   Share   How men can have a healthy 2019last_img read more

Radical teachers vow to block Mexican midterm elections

first_img Milstead says best way to stop wrong-way incidents is driving sober But he said threats to block elections, which apparently started with the parents of 43 missing college students in southern Guerrero state who said they wouldn’t allow elections until their children were found, has become a greater potential danger.“I think we run the risk, as a society, that the threat to block elections is becoming a universal practice, as a way to press demands,” Cordoba said.___This story has been corrected to show the state is Oaxaca, not Guerrero.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Top Stories MEXICO CITY (AP) — Members of a radical Mexican teachers union broke into or blockaded electoral offices in the southern state of Oaxaca on Monday amid threats to block this weekend’s midterm elections.National Electoral Institute head Lorenzo Cordoba said that teachers destroyed furnishings at two of the offices and that the union’s actions could force authorities to move polling places to alternate locations for Sunday’s voting. Teachers blockaded several other offices, causing the electoral institute to suspend work in parts of Oaxaca. The Education Department said only that “given new elements that should be taken into account in (teacher) evaluation … the previously announced test dates will be indefinitely suspended.”Because teacher testing was considered the central point of the hard-fought reform of Mexico’s woefully under-performing schools, the announcement drew widespread criticism.“By suspending teacher evaluation, the federal authorities have given up the chance to advance toward quality education,” a group of 20 civic groups said in a statement. “And what is worse is that it was done in the face of blackmail,” it added, referring to the teachers’ threat to block the elections.Mexico has seen drug cartel violence mar elections in the past. In 2010, the leading candidate for the governorship of the border state of Tamaulipas was slain by cartel gunmen. So far this year’s campaign for congressional seats, nine governorships and hundreds of mayorships has been marred by lower-level killings, including the deaths of two small-town mayoral candidates.Cordoba said drug-gang violence and crime remains a concern, forcing electoral workers in some places to operate only in daylight and in teams. Workers sometimes leave their electoral institute caps and other identifying insignia behind and work in plain clothes. Ex-FBI agent details raid on Phoenix body donation facility How Arizona is preparing the leader of the next generation Sponsored Stories center_img Cordoba said the situation in Oaxaca probably represents the biggest threat to the election, even more than drug cartel violence that has marred past elections in Mexico.“Given today’s events, I would say our area of biggest concern is Oaxaca,” he said. “Organized crime hasn’t tried to block the elections, but some social movements have.”The radical teachers movement has built a reputation for long strikes and takeovers of public spaces, like the 2006 uprising that sought the ouster of the Oaxaca state governor. Teachers led a five-month takeover of colonial Oaxaca city, the state capital.The teachers, some of whom inherited their teaching jobs from relatives rather than proved their skills in the classroom, vigorously oppose a 2013 education reform that requires competitive testing for teachers. The union says those tests don’t really measure teaching skills and don’t take into account the special knowledge needed to teach in Indian and rural areas.Over the weekend, the government appeared to bow to their demands by suspending planned tests, without stating what many people suspected was the real reason: persuading the teachers union to allow Sunday’s elections to go forward. Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Natural spring cleaning tips and tricks for your home New Year’s resolution: don’t spend another year in a kitchen you don’t like Comments   Share   New Valley school lets students pick career-path academieslast_img read more

Spirit of Australia Giving away lost property

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.C Qantas has admitted that they lost the property of a passenger, believing to have donated it to charity.Sydney-based lawyer Suzanne Clarke received a phone call from the airline revealing they had found her 22-year-old son’s item, but lost it again, the Daily Telegraph reported. The confession comes after the Sunday Telegraph’s controversial article that the airline auctioned off passengers’ unclaimed lost property, released two weeks ago.According to Ms Clark, her son had left the CD and DVD folder on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in May, and the airline had been uncooperative in her son’s three months of efforts to make contact.”They believe it has gone to a charity but they can’t tell me what charity, or when it went to a charity or any information about the whereabouts of the item because it’s now too long since my son’s flight,” she said.”They have offered me a gift voucher for $400 but the items are worth more than $1000. They said they can’t reimburse the full cost because it’s not their fault.”Two weeks ago, the airline said that it made every effort to reunite passengers with their lost items, and that it donates hundreds of unclaimed valuables each month to the Salvation Army and Mission Australia in Sydney.Neither of these charities has received donated items from Qantas in over a year, the Daily Telegraph reported.Do you think Tristan, the 22-year-old who lost the $1000 worth of CDs and DVDs, should be fully reimbursed by Qantas?last_img read more

Experience world famous golf links with Golf Vacations Ireland

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: C.F Killen Castle in Ireland Golf Vacations Ireland provides the best golf experiences in Ireland, including world famous golf links – Royal County Down, Portmarnock, Lahinch and Ballybunion – which have been described by veteran golfer Tom Watson as “the best in the world.” The company helps travellers plan and book their dream golf event and develop a customised tour to suit their needs, including accommodation and transport. “We currently welcome between 1,000 and 1,500 international visitors a year of which approximately 50 are from Australia,” Golf Vacations Ireland, Marketing Manager, Susan Heffernan said. “The level of product awareness is not as high here, which we are currently making efforts to change.” “Once Australian agents become aware of the product it’s an easy sell, not only is the Australian dollar very strong but Golfers are discerning and they will be attracted by our customised tours.” The company also offers golfing tours in Scotland, which is known as the home of golf as well as England and Wales, which also offer a selection of Open host venues and historic links. Alternatively travellers can organise a golf tour with a more exotic twist in Spain and Portugal or they can combine destinations to create a unique golfing tour. All Golf Vacations Ireland destinations enjoy direct access from North America, Europe and a selection of further afield international airports. Ms Heffernan said that the upcoming Solheim Cup at Killen Castle (23-25 September 2011) was generating alot of tourism buzz with a number of golfers said to travel to Ireland for the event.last_img read more

Gold Coast Tourism plan takeover for 2011

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Gold Coast Tourism welcomed four new faces to its Board of Directors at its Annual General Meeting, held at the Marriott Hotel in Surfers Paradise earlier this week. Paul Donovan returned as Chairman and Adrienne Readings was returned as Vice Chairman. Mr Donovan was excited about the introduction of new board members and the prospects for tourism leading into 2011. “As a stakeholder in the Gold Coast tourism industry and the Chairman of Gold Coast Tourism I am proud and inspired by the standing of this organisation in 2010,” he said. Gold Coast Tourism CEO, Martin Winter, is preparing for a busy summer and an exciting 2011. “We’re heavily invested in promoting our new marketing campaign, ‘Famous for Fun’ which we’ll be rolling out to overseas markets over the next few months,” he told e-Travel Blackboard yesterday. Mr Winter and his team will be working in overdrive next week as they spend a week on the ‘Today’ show showcasing the very best the Gold Coast has to offer. With the introduction of a new AFL team to the Gold Coast mid-2011, Mr Winter will work collaboratively with airlines to bring more people to the popular Queensland beachside city. “It’s all about being pro-active. Branding is important to us; tactical marketing and maintaining close partnerships with airlines and companies such as Flight Centre help us to provide value for money to people wishing to visit our vibrant and incredible city,” he said. Gold Coast Tourism boasts 500 small business members and together with industry support has performed aggressively and positively over the past 12 months, according to Mr Donovan. The new board are looking toward the future, ready to confront the challenges and issues relating to tourism in the Gold Coast. The 2010 / 2011 Gold Coast Tourism Corporation Board:Paul Donovan, Gold Coast Airport (Chairman)Adrienne Readings, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (Vice Chairman)Peter Brampton, Marriott HotelsNoel Dempsey, Dreamworld, White Water World and QDeckSteve Howard, Gold Coast PublicationsBruce Nicholls, Tall Ships Sailing Cruises of AustraliaPaul Steer, KPMGJohn Punch, Short, Punch & Greatorix (Secretary)last_img read more

Corporate Travel Management close positive IPO

first_imgSource = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T Corporate Travel Management’s (CTM) initial public offering has closed with flooding support from retail and institutional investors. CTM released their prospectus on 3 November 2010. More than 21 million shares were on offer and closed over-subscribed on 7 December 2010. The offer was fully underwritten by RBS Morgans. Funds raised will be used to settle unpaid debts pertaining to the acquisition of Sydney-based TravelCorp, as well as supplementing working capital. Chairman Tony Bellas was pleased with the results of the IPO and felt it reflected CTM’s positive and proven track record of earnings growth. “CTM is experiencing strong demand for its specialist services and is ideally positioned to leverage future growth from the corporate sector,” he said. CTM shares are set to begin trading on the Australian Securities Exchange on 15 December 2010. CTM Founder and Managing Director, Jamie Pherous, welcomed new shareholders, including company employees who are now part owners of the business.“The high quality of our staff is one of the key factors driving our success and I am delighted with the number of our people who have decided to participate in the long-term growth of CTM by becoming shareholders,” said Mr Pherous. last_img read more

Power price hike to affect SA outback tourism

first_imgSouth Australian industry leaders are concerned for the survival of outback tourism businesses after the announcement of a 120 percent increase in the state’s power price. South Australian Tourism Industry Council chief executive Ward Tilbrook said he was concerned for the sustainability of regional areas. “This outrageous price hike significantly prejudices tourism businesses that work hard to deliver world-class tourism experiences and already face numerous challenges in tough operating environments, this may be the final straw for many of them,” Mr Tilbrook said. Mr Tilbrook added that while smaller agencies may avoid the large increase, commercial properties like hotels and caravan parks will be affected and may be forced to close. “Tourism is the lifeblood of many outback communities and without the facilities and infrastructure in place to support visitors, the local communities will inevitably suffer,” he said.The council’s head suggested the government reconsider its price hike for a plan that will allow “equity in power costs for outback areas”. Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.Jlast_img read more

Alila Villas Uluwatu continues its winning streak

first_imgStylish Balinese escape takes home Green Good Design Award and International Architecture AwardAlila Villas Uluwatu has cemented its position as a world-leading design resort with the addition of another two awards to its collection. The super stylish Balinese hideaway has picked up both the Green Good Design award and the International Architecture award from the Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Art, Architecture, Design and Urban Studies.The annual awards are cited as the world’s most prestigious global awards for new architecture, landscape architecture, interiors and urban planning, with the green design category recognising the world’s leading sustainable design projects.Since opening in late 2009, the all-villa resort has received over 20 design and architecture awards from the world’s leading authorities. The latest achievements come hot on the heels of the recent Royal Institute British Architects award for architectural excellence, when Alila Villas Uluwatu was the only hotel amongst the 13 winners. Designed by Singapore based architects WOHA, Alila Villas Uluwatu has gained international recognition for its environmentally sustainable design and principles, striking contemporary style and beautiful cliff-top location, high above the rolling surf of Bali’s southern Bukit peninsula. The one, two and three-bedroom villas with private pools offer guests a unique indoor-outdoor living space with every view open to the outdoors and flat lava rock roofs and bamboo ceilings allowing the gentle sea breeze to flow in freely.Price for 5-Nights stay in a One-Bedroom Villa with Pool from USD2,860++ (subject to 21% tax and service charge) per villa per package. Package Includes round trip airport transfers, 5 Night stay in a One-Bedroom Villa with Pool, Daily Alila breakfast at either Cire – our restaurant or In-Villa Dining and complimentary Tai-Chi, Yoga and body balance. Price is based on travel between 16th September and 11th December and 6th January and 31st March 2012 Source = Alila Hotels and Resorts / Alila Villaslast_img read more