Agents boost U.S. Vacations

USA specialist operator Vacations to America says it experienced a surge in sales following a six-month agent engagement campaign.

US Vacations

Beginning last spring, the operator made over 1,000 visits to independent agents, providing product collateral, destination guides and key sales messages highlighting the product in its 260-page USA brochure.

“We are one of the UK’s top U.S. travel specialists but it’s fair to say that many agents possibly had not heard of us - until now,” commented Richard Wimms, Vacations to America’s MD.

“We chose the agents we visited based on historical data relating to previous enquiries and brochure requests. Sales increased by 23% compared with the same booking period last year - which just confirms what we always thought: agents will respond positively once they are better equipped with destination knowledge and product confidence.”

“What’s particularly pleasing is that many of the agents we visited had never previously sold our product – and now they have” added Wimms.

“We will continue to engage agents in 2018 with more visits and destination themed events, and we will be increasing brochure production by 50% to 30,000 copies”.

“The USA is an enormous country and agents face the daunting task of having to put together some very complex itineraries for their customers."

One of Vacations to America’s most popular tours is its 14-day Deep South Explorer option, featuring New Orleans, Chattanooga, Memphis, Montgomery, Nashville, Midtown Atlanta, Jackson, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi (agents can obtain prices upon request).

Pictured: Emma Stewart (Senior Travel Consultant), Lynn Redshaw (Product Manager), Richard Wimms (Managing Director), Nan Wimms (Reservations Director) and Julie Lovell, (Reservations Manager).

Value season in New York

A host of discount programmes aimed at international visitors make this the most affordable time of the year to visit New York City.

New York

The first-ever NYC Broadway Week Winter Stay hotel promotion coincides with NYC & Company’s biannual Broadway ticket offering, NYC Broadway Week, which runs from January 15 through to February 5.

Visitors with NYC Broadway Week two-for-one tickets who stay at one of over 25 participating hotels will receive a daily $25 food and beverage on-property credit. All participating hotels are centrally located to Broadway’s Theatre District and are offering attractive room rates as part of the promotion.

The hotels include independent boutique properties such as the new Luma Hotel Times Square; The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection hotel, and The Knickerbocker. More recognised brands include the New York Hilton Midtown and the Sheraton New York Times Square.

Two-for-one tickets for the NYC Broadway Week programme featuring 20 Broadway shows – including new productions like Farinelli and the King, SpongeBob SquarePants and The Parisian Woman - went on sale on January 5, for performances from January 16 through February 4.

Two of NYC & Company’s other signature discount programmes - NYC Restaurant Week (January 29-February 4), offering visitors the chance to enjoy Prixe Fixe dining at several world class restaurants, and NYC Must-See Week (January 29-February 11), providing two-for-one tickets to attractions, museums, tours and performing arts - are also designed to lure more international visitors.

NYC Broadway Week Winter Stay, NYC Broadway Week, NYC Restaurant Week and NYC Must-See Week will all be operating concurrently from January 29-February 4, which NYC and Company have dubbed the ‘Ultimate-Value Week’.

Virginia for luxury lovers

United Airlines and North America Travel Service have joined forces to offer a special tour of Virginia.


Priced from £1,899pp, the ‘Governor’s Choice’ tour begins at Dulles International Airport, which is in Virginia. From there, it’s a drive of an hour to the Salamander Resort and Spa, in a region with 280-plus wineries (Virginia is the nation’s fifth largest wine producer) for a two-night stay. Next up is the historic Virginia Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, located at the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Other stops include the state capital Richmond and The Jefferson Hotel, for activities that include a bourbon tasting at the Reservoir Distillery or a personally-guided tour of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, whose 35,000-plus works include a renowned Fabergé collection.

The final destination is Williamsburg, a city with a rich historic heritage and also one of the USA’s top golf destinations. Guests choose between the Kingsmill Resort on the James River or the colonial-style Williamsburg Inn.

The package also includes a seven-day Alamo Car Rental (SUV) with Gold Insurance and GPS and United flights from Heathrow to Washington Dulles.

An extended 10-night itinerary (three nights Middleburg, two nights Charlottesville, two nights Richmond and three nights Williamsburg) is available from £2,599pp.

The deals are based on two adults sharing, travelling in April 2018.

San Antonio’s tasty

San Antonio in Texas has been designated a Creative City of Gastronomy by UNESCO.

San Antonio

The city, which becomes just the second in the U.S. to earn the distinction, earned its new billing for a culinary heritage that is notable for drawing on several world cultures such as Mexican, Spanish, German and French along with Native American influences.

Today the city’s culinary scene is dominated by chefs who honour and celebrate this multi-layered culinary heritage, to the point where cuisine, whether fine dining, more basic restaurants and even street food, has progressed well beyond 'Tex Mex’ to ‘Tex-Next.’

The third campus of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) is also located in San Antonio.

Dedicated to the foundations of culinary instruction as well as specialisations in Latin cuisine, the campus takes advantage of San Antonio’s cultural influences and access to indigenous ingredients.

The CIA campus is located at Pearl, a 22-acre indie-food haven in a re-purposed German brewery built in 1883.

Said Casandra Matej, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio: “Travellers are increasingly seeking a destination with a robust culinary scene as a way to really get to know the heart of a city.

"The UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy designation confirms what millions of visitors have known all along — San Antonio’s cuisine is truly unique and authentic to our region.”

Art for art's sake at LAX

Visitors to one of the USA’s main gateway airports are enjoying a series of new art installation.


Specifically commissioned for their striking effectiveness in airport spaces, the four artworks currently turning heads at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) were curated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).

"These exhibitions transform the landscape at LAX by providing provocative and refreshing experiences for travellers. Greeting travellers with these stunning new exhibitions elevates the welcoming experience for all who are visiting or returning to Los Angeles," said Danielle Brazell, General Manager, DCA.

"These four new art installations, in concert with the other works in our permanent and temporary collection, add to the ‘wow factor' you get when you travel through LAX,” she added.

The Art Program at LAX, which includes temporary exhibitions, permanent installations and cultural performances, is designed to “enhance and humanise the travel experience by providing diverse and memorable art experiences”.

The new installations currently on display, include a video exhibition, aerial photography, a photographic mural, and a site-specific sculptural installation.

Pictured is a Terminal Six (Departures) installation called Shelf Life, by artist Eileen Cowin. Running until the spring, the 62-foot photographic mural is “a glimpse into a personalized library featuring a bookshelf of carefully selected books and belongings that poetically reflect the artist’s concerns about current events.”

Ice castles in Utah

The breathtaking Ice Castles of Midway are attracting visitors to Utah this winter.


The extraordinary fully-frosted structures - an annual addition to the mountain town - are part playground, part art installation and part fairytale.

A serious architectural undertaking, the Ice Castles fill an entire acre with their glittering turrets, frozen archways, slippery ice slides and glacial waterfalls.

The ice features are hand-sculpted over a series of weeks, with each icicle hand-placed then repeatedly sprayed with water to create large-scale, organic ice formations, and look spectacular when illuminated at night.

This epic winter wonderland, just 45 minutes’ drive southeast of Salt Lake and located close to world-class ski resorts including Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain, is one of Utah’s most popular seasonal attractions.

Bon Voyage has a seven-night (room-only) deal in Utah staying in Midway and Park City.

Priced from £1,459pp and valid for travel in February 2018, the deal includes direct flights from Heathrow to Salt Lake City with Virgin Atlantic or Delta, fully-inclusive SUV car hire for the duration, four nights in a junior suite at the Zermatt Resort in Midway and three nights in a double room at the Park City Marriott.