Unite calls operators and buyers

Visit USA is inviting tour operators and buyers to sign up for the popular Unite Visit USA event.

VUSA

Taking place on March 16 at the Mermaid Conference Centre at Blackfriars in central London, the annual Unite day provides the opportunity to set up face-to-face conversations with key product suppliers for 2017 and beyond.

Operators and buyers are invited to register free of charge. They will meet up to 50 USA product suppliers during a series of pre-arranged 20 minute appointments.

Commented Tracey Spuyman, CEO, Visit USA (UK): “Unite Visit USA is a very efficient way of doing business and networking with key players in the USA travel and tourism community.”

To register and receive further information contact info@visitusa.org.uk

Premier has more of USA

Premier Holidays' 2017 America programme features new tours and greater focus on areas to help agents sell specific destinations.

Rio Grande

Valid until March 2018, the 116-page brochure features Texas for first-timers, new three- or four-night city highlights tours, and hotels and excursions in each destination.

Extra space has also been provided for a number of popular cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and New York.

There’s a heftier section on EagleRider motorcycle tours with two suggested itineraries: a 14-night guided tour of Route 66 and an eight-night self-drive southwest tour from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, via San Francisco.

Two Amtrak train tour itineraries are included along with four multi-centre itineraries that take clients to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, New York and Las Vegas, the Pacific Coast Highway or Memphis and Nashville on either a self-drive or independent tour.

There are also two new self-drive options in Florida.

A four-night New York Highlights independent tour starts from £899pp including flights, airport shuttle transfers, accommodation, a New York CityPass (which gives admission to six top attractions) and a harbour lights evening cruise.

Travel agents earn £25-£150 for every inclusive USA booking made, dependent on booking value.

trade.premierholidays.co.uk

W Hotel opens in Vegas

W Hotels Worldwide, now part of Marriott International, has made its Las Vegas debut with last month’s opening of W Las Vegas.

Las Vegas

W transformed a 289-room tower of SLS Las Vegas, located on the emerging North End of the Vegas Strip.

Guests checking in at the hotel’s Welcome Desk are invited into the W brand’s signature 'Living Room', designed to evoke a sense of Vegas glamour and inspired by casino gaming tables.

And intimate seating ‘nooks’ are a nod to the hotel’s original mid-century incarnation as the Sahara.

The 289 rooms, designed by Philippe Starck, include signature W bedding and Bliss bath amenities, while the rooftop WET Deck includes private cabanas and a bar with views of the Stratosphere and desert mountains. There’s also a spa and a 24-hour fitness centre.

The property has seven eateries and several nightlife experiences are just an elevator ride away at SLS Las Vegas.

Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader, W Hotels Worldwide, commented: “If there are two things in this world that were truly made for each other, it’s W Hotels and Las Vegas.

“After nearly two decades of anticipation, W Las Vegas will show guests a different side of the strip, offering an unexpected and irreverent twist on the typical Sin City experience.”

lasvegas.com

Route with a view in Kansas

Kansas has its 12th designated themed route, the Land and Sky Scenic Byway, which cuts through the Sunflower State’s northwest section.

Kansas

Stretching 88 miles along US Highway 27, the byway is the only one in the state that focuses on agriculture and features thousands of acres of rotating crops, livestock and wildlife along the way.

Stretching from Sharon Springs north to the Nebraska state line, its vast and iconic wheat fields are joined by sunflowers, soybean and other crops in their seasons.

Visitors can expect cosy B&Bs, homely country restaurants, quirky shopping and museums redolent of the state's rich history and culture.

Along the byway they will have the opportunity to experience the Wallace branch of the Great Western Cattle Trail – a successor to the legendary Chisholm Trail - scale the highest point in Kansas at Mount Sunflower and explore the deep canyons and rugged landscape of the Arikaree Breaks, where the high plains give way to a panorama of deep ravines and gullies.

A stop at Goodland will reveal what claims to be the world's largest painting on an easel  representing Van Gogh's famous depictions of sunflowers.

Kansas's byways, designed to identify scenic and historic routes across the state, are designated by the Kansas Department of Transportation.

ksbyways.com; travelks.com

 

Reversible golf in Michigan

The Great Lake state of Michigan is claiming a world first with the opening of a ‘reversible golf course'.

New York

The Loop at Forest Dunes in Roscommon, northern Michigan, has the regular 18 greens but 36 teeing areas.

It will play clockwise one day and counterclockwise the next. Only the 9th and 18th greens will always be labelled with those numbers.

The course, the work of renowned designer Tom Doak, will be open fully for the 2017 golf season – once the winter snows have melted — but was available to guests staying overnight at Forest Dunes Resort last summer.

The designer commented: “I’m really pleased with it...whichever way you’re playing, it never feels like you are going the wrong way. We just had to make sure that the best of the holes are distributed relatively equally between the two loops, so that one version of the course doesn’t trump the other.”

The home of golf, The Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, was built to allow a reversible path, but has only been played that way on rare occasion since 1914.

forestdunesgolf.com; michigan.org

Volcano Bay set to erupt

Universal Studios has announced more details of its new Orlando water park, Volcano Bay, due to open this summer.

Maverick

Covering 30 acres, Volcano Bay will feature a variety of attractions including a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a serene winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below, and more.

Star highlights will include the Krakatau Aqua Coaster and all-new TapuTapu wearable technology.

Krakatau Aqua Coaster will be Volcano Bay’s centrepiece experience, combining innovative ride technology with water theme park thrills that take riders through the park’s massive icon – the 200-foot Krakatau volcano.

Guests will board specially-designed canoes that propel both downwards and upwards through the volcano’s interior ‘peaks’ and ‘valleys’. They’ll twist, turn and plummet along dark passageways and be launched through waterfalls.

As part of their admission, guests will receive a TapuTapu 'wearable' that, with a simple tap, will allow them to virtually wait in line as they play in other areas of the park.

The wearable will alert guests when it’s time for them to ride so they can head to the attraction.

With another tap, they will be able to trigger special effects like controlling streams of water spurting from whales in Tot Tiki Reef, shooting water cannons at guests snaking down Kopiko Wai Winding River and illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves.

universalorlando.com/volcanobay

BA's extra Arizona flights

British Airways is to increase flights between Heathrow and Phoenix, Arizona, for a limited period this year.

Virgin

The three extra weekly frequencies to Sky Harbour International airport will add to the airline’s existing daily service on a route served by Boeing 747-400 aircraft.

The additional services will operate on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday from May 8 to July 2.

The new flights will depart Heathrow at 09.40, arriving into Phoenix at 12.25, with the return journey leaving the U.S. city at 14.35, and landing back into Heathrow at 08.30 the following day.

British Airways launched non-stop services to Phoenix in 1996, with the current daily service departing Heathrow at 14.40, for arrival into Phoenix at 17.25, and the return leg leaving the Arizona city at 19.40, and landing back into Heathrow at 13.35 the following day.

Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton said: “The current daily flight by British Airways adds $100 million to our economy each year, so this new flight is a welcome addition to that impact and another sign of the strength of our growing market.”

batraveltrade.com