The 2018 Visit USA Roadshow

Visit USA rolled into Manchester, Birmingham and London this October, with 30 suppliers meeting almost 300 agents amongst a host of retro-Americana ranging from a yellow taxi to a statue of Uncle Sam.

VUSA

Agents embarked on a swift round of networking, meeting all the Visit USA members exhibiting including, amongst others, airlines Aer Lingus, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic; destinations including Colorado, the Florida Keys, North Carolina, Texas and Santa Monica; attractions and activity suppliers such as the Kennedy Space Center and Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters; and tour and ticket providers including Broadway Inbound and USAirtours.

CEO of Visit USA, Tracey Spuyman, said: “There’s been an enormous turnout this year and all our Visit USA members have commented on the exceptional quality of agents and their obvious interest in the USA. This is a tried and tested formula but we work hard to develop and improve the Roadshow for both exhibitors and those attending each year.”

This year agents had the chance to play an interactive computer game, State of Play, which asked questions posed by exhibitors and gave them the chance to win one of ten goody bags stuffed with treats from all the suppliers.

There was also a grand holiday prize each night, with flights donated by Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines and hotel stays by Kimpton, Sheraton, Four Seasons, Eden Roc, Handlery Union Square Hotel in San Francisco, Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo and Freepoint Hotel West Cambridge in Boston. Then at the end of the week there was a special bonus prize to Texas donated by United Airlines and Cruise America RV Rental.

visitusaorg.uk

SeaWorld ready for Falls

SeaWorld Orlando’s new Infinity Falls has now opened.

Universal

The company says that the attraction features roaring rapids, soaking fountains and a 40-foot waterfall drop, against the backdrop of a ‘rainforest utopia’.

Guests will have the opportunity to take on the role of a conservationist on a journey through the rainforest and learn about the importance of freshwater conservation through interactive games and stories throughout the ride experience.

Mark Pauls, President of SeaWorld Orlando Parks, said: “From the excitement of the thrilling rapids to the unique vertical lift element, Infinity Falls is an adventure that will appeal to the entire family.”

Infinity Falls is the latest ride at a park that also features the high-adrenalin roller-coasters Mako, Manta and Kraken, and the water flume fun of Journey to Atlantis.

The best value ticket for visiting SeaWorld Parks in Florida is the 3-Park SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Ticket or the Discovery Cove Ultimate Package.

The 3-Park Ticket, offers 14 days' unlimited entry to three parks - SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Busch Gardens - for the price of two, when guests book and visit before December 31 2019.

seaworld.com/orlando

Southern stars for Travel 2

The USA's Deep South is booming for Travel 2, with bookings for the southern states up 43%, the operator says.

Phoenix

Forward bookings for 2019 are also strong, with Louisiana up more than 90%, Florida up 50% and forward bookings to Texas more than tripling with a 330% increase.

Phoenix is growing in popularity as a leisure destination, with its year-round sunshine, desert vistas, top-class golf and spas and its relative close proximity to the Grand Canyon.

Outside of the South, Washington State has performed significantly well with 60% year on year growth and early business for 2019 more than doubling. Illinois has seen an increase of 23% whilst bookings to Massachusetts have climbed 13%.

The trade-only operator’s new 2018/19 USA and Canada brochure introduces three new southern destinations: Hilton Head Island (South Carolina), Pigeon Forge (Tennessee) and Chattanooga (Tennessee). The brochure includes new properties in both Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine.

The programme also includes American small group tours in the southern States (Deep South and Delta Blues) and Texas (A Taste of Texas and the Two-step).

The 13-day escorted Deep South and Delta Blues tour with Grand American Adventures starts from £2,829pp and includes flights from Heathrow. It departs on April 24 2019.

Travel2.com

USA specialist thanks agents

USA specialist operator Vacations to America has thanked agents for their ‘outstanding support’ in 2018.

Philadelphia

The company, which has seen its sales grow by around 20%, held a VIP event held in London to mark its 25th year of business.

Managing Director Richard Wimms said: “We made a conscious decision in 2018 to increase our trade-facing marketing activity.

“By the end of November, we will have completed over 800 visits to travel agents, produced and delivered high quality point of sale materials and improved considerably the way in which we have been communicating with front-line sales advisors.”

These activities have resulted in a "very positive trading performance year-to-date," added Wimms.

Vacations to America’s promotional activity includes working with selected partners to raise agent awareness of destinations including New England, The Deep South, Utah, Sarasota & Anna Maria Island in Florida, Greater Palm Springs and North Lake Tahoe, California.

The company has also produced a 100-page ‘Buddy Book’ covering the A to Z of all things USA.

“We want to be considered as the ‘go to’ operator when agents are looking at bespoke US itineraries for their customers,” said Wimms.

vacationstoamerica.com/

Waldorf ends Strip search

The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas & Residences has opened on The Strip.

Miami

The Hilton luxury property, housed in the building formerly used by Mandarin Oriental, will undertake a redesign of its rooms and public spaces in 2019.

Set in a non-gaming, non-smoking environment, its 389 guest rooms and 225 residences include 55 suites and three Presidential Suites.

Its signature restaurant Twist is overseen by Michelin Star-rated Chef Pierre Gagnaire, who provides an interpretation of classic French cuisine.

The SkyBar on the 23rd floor delivers a cocktail collection handcrafted by master mixologists while the Tea Lounge offers three afternoon tea times in a setting overlooking The Strip.

The hotel’s spa, spanning two entire guest floors, features an array of therapies, seven private couple’s suites, multiple relaxation experiences, a Hamman and a Zen Foot Spa.

waldorfastoria.com

More U.S. flights for Delta

Delta is to increase flights to the U.S. from Heathrow in summer 2019.

Maverick

The airline will introduce a daily flight to Portland International Airport, up from four times weekly this year, and a second daily service to Detroit’s Wayne County Metropolitan Airport.

Delta’s seasonal Portland route is the only non-stop link from the UK. Operated in association with joint venture partner, Virgin Atlantic, the daily service to the creative capital of the Pacific Northwest will strengthen the joint venture’s West Coast footprint, complementing existing flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Said Roberto Loriatti, Delta’s Vice President Trans-Atlantic: “Portland is fast becoming one of the hippest U.S. destinations; a vibrant, friendly city that’s compact enough to explore by bike yet has some of America’s best national parks on its doorstep. We’re upping our frequencies in response to customer demand.”

The second daily Detroit flight comes on the back of the Motor City’s continuing renaissance, and provides a more regular gateway to more than 90 destinations throughout the U.S. including regional Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Orlando.

Delta has scheduled 210-seat Boeing 767-300ER aircraft on its Portland and Detroit flights, featuring 35 fully flat-bed seats in the Delta One cabin, 32 seats in Delta Comfort+ and 143 seats in Main Cabin.

The onboard experience includes access to Wi-Fi, free personal in-flight seatback entertainment screens and free mobile messaging via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and iMessage.

delta.com

More glam in West Hollywood

850, a new 23-room hotel, is the latest chic boutique property to open in West Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Maverick

The sister property to the Sunset features distinct interiors by British designer Rita Konig, a rooftop terrace with views of the city and a revolving series of guest chefs from across the Los Angeles region.

Designed with a residential ‘ambience’ in mind - it has a communal living room - 850’s façade is in the style of a historical bungalow.

Tucked away in a residential neighbourhood, it is surrounded by coffee shops and restaurants in streets such as Sunset Boulevard, Melrose Avenue and Runyon Canyon.

Sunset Tower, one of West Hollywood’s most iconic hotels, has recently completed a major multimillion-pound transformation.

Sunset Tower and 850 are both owned by Los Angeles hotelier and restaurateur Jeff Klein.

visitwesthollywood.com