Wheel turns for San Fran

San Francisco’s 1,017-acre Golden Gate Park plans to celebrate its 150th anniversary in style in 2020.

San Francisco

A major new addition to the park will be an illuminated 150-foot observation wheel that will provide riders with sweeping views from the ocean to downtown San Francisco.

The observation wheel, which will launch on April 4 2020 and operate until March 1 2021, will be located at Golden Gate Park’s Music Concourse, the outdoor plaza near the de Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden.

The wheel will feature 36 fully-enclosed, climate-controlled gondolas, seating six passengers each. The 12-minute ride will cost £14 ($18), or £9 ($12) for seniors and children under 13.

The year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary will include major events and attractions, including a free park-wide community celebration and observation wheel rides on April 4th—exactly 150 years after the California Legislature created Golden Gate Park in 1870.

Further information regarding the year-long celebrations will be announced this month (January) as part of an official launch event.

Around 24 million visitors take in Golden Gate Park each year, to enjoy its historic institutions, concerts and sprawling lawns.

The most-visited attraction in the park is the California Academy of Sciences. Four museums in one, visitors can watch butterflies in a four-story rainforest, see several species of fish in the Steinhart Aquarium and take a look at the museum's living roof. They can also catch a show at the planetarium, feel what it's like to be in an earthquake and check out the exhibits in the natural history museum.


Aer Lingus a record breaker

Aer Lingus carried a record two-and-a-half million guests between Ireland and North America during 2019.

Aer Lingus

Last year the Irish flag carrier operated its largest-ever transatlantic schedule, flying to 14 North American destinations including a new direct service to the gateway to the Midwest, Minneapolis St. Paul, which launched in July.

The top five most popular destinations were New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Florida.

Aer Lingus flies from Dublin and Shannon to 16 North Atlantic routes across North America from 16 leading UK airports, including those in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh

Dave Shepherd, Aer Lingus Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This record number of North Atlantic guests sees us building towards our ambition to be the leading value carrier across the North Atlantic.”

Aer Lingus is to add extra capacity on a selection of its North American route by introducing larger Airbus A330s on services to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis-St. Paul. And by the summer Aer Lingus will have replaced its entire Boeing 757 fleet with four single-aisle Airbus A321neo LR aircraft, which offer fuel savings of over 20%, thanks to their greater eco-efficiency

UK guests flying to North America with Aer Lingus can enjoy seamless connections by pre-clearing U.S. Immigration and Customs in Dublin before stepping on board their transatlantic flight. This means they can arrive as domestic passengers on arrival Stateside, skipping lengthy queues for a swift and smooth welcome to the US.


Greater in Palm Springs

The Californian desert region of Greater Palm Springs will welcome several new hotel openings and upgrades to existing properties in 2020.

Palm Springs

The Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa in Indian Wells has completed a full makeover that has seen all its rooms and suites renovated, the addition of a multi-story reception area, a new bar and a fitness centre.

The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa has undergone a $90 million refurbishment. All of the 884 guest rooms have been redecorated as well as the lobby, which features boats that bring guests to the reservation desk.

This year will see La Quinta Resort & Club unveil a refurbishment to its outdoor plaza and spa. The former has a new café, marketplace and bar whilst the Spa La Quinta has received a redesign “to evoke feelings of peace and tranquility”.

Due to open in late 2020, Andaz Palm Springs (pictured) in downtown Palm Springs city will comprise of 150 guestrooms and 13 suites, set around two outdoor swimming pools with views of the San Jacinto Mountains.

The city of Coachella will welcome its first luxury resort this year. Hotel Indigo will be designed with visitors to Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in mind, featuring casita-style guestrooms, a 10,000 square foot swimming pool, fashion runway with DJ stage, spa and yoga studio. The property will be less than a 10-minute drive from the festival, which takes place in neighbouring city, Indio.

With its nine resort cities, Greater Palm Springs offers accommodation from luxurious resorts to trendy hotels and intimate boutique inns with amenities ranging from spas, poolside dining, aquatic features and pet-friendly packages.

Activities include golf and tennis, swimming, biking, equestrian sports, biking and hiking on more than 100 scenic trails.


The west, as you like it

Suggest the Rocky Mountain states to second- or third-time clients to the U.S. looking for a taste of America beyond the tourist crowds.

America as you like it

The diverse and expansive American states of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota Wyoming and Idaho epitomise a region packed with adventure opportunities, cultural rides into the heart of cowboy-land and historical trips discovering the now silent battlefields of Cowboys and Native Indians.

America As You Like It has a 15-day tour that takes in much of the best of the region. Along the way clients will see fabulous scenery featuring mountains, shimmering lakes, sweeping prairies and tumbling waterfalls.

Starting and ending in Denver, stops include Cheyenne, Wyoming; Rapid City, South Dakota, where day trips feature Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse mountain carving (pictured), which could still be 40 years from completion) and the Badlands.

Then it is on to Sheridan, which lies in the valley of the Little and Big Goose Creeks, once the prized hunting grounds of the Plains Indians and where Indian leaders Red Cloud and Crazy Horse took a final stand to keep the white man from their last and best hunting grounds.

Bozeman is one of the most diverse small towns in the western Rockies, with an eclectic mix of ranchers, artists, professors, ski enthusiasts and entrepreneurs, while Whitefish is the perfect base from which to explore Glacier National Park.

Other stops include Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and Idaho Falls, with its diverse arts community and recreational activities including fishing, hiking, biking and golf.

Prices start from £1,805pp, including flights, accommodation and car rental.


Party time at Busch Garden

Busch Gardens has a new line-up of events in early 2020 to complement the opening of its record-breaking Iron Gwazi rollercoaster.

Busch Garden

The theme park in Tampa Bay, Florida, is planning Sesame Street Safari of Fun Kids’ Weekends, which will run on Saturdays and Sundays from February 1-16.

Visitors will be able to join the Sesame Street krewe for a pirate-filled paRrrr-ty! Families will enjoy special character interaction, themed story time, treasure scavenger hunts, and dance parties.

The weekend of February 22-23 will see the park celebrate its Mardi Gras weekend with limited-time food, cocktails, entertainment and live music.

And running on weekends from February 29 to April 26, a world of taste awaits at the sixth annual Food & Wine Festival each weekend. The festival will present regonal dishes plus a large selection of wines, craft brews and cocktails.

Busch gardens also promises some of the biggest names in music as they take the stage the Festival Field, with all concerts included with daily-ticketed admission to the park.

Due to open in the spring, Iron Gwazi is being described as the world’s fastest and steepest hybrid coaster. Also North America’s tallest, the wood and steel hybrid coaster will plunge riders from a 206 foot-tall peak into a 91-degree drop, reaching top speeds of 76 miles per hour.


Reasons for Texas scramble

There are plenty of fresh reasons to add Dallas to a Texas or southwestern touring itinerary in 2020.


Last month (December) Virgin Hotels opened a 200-room hotel in Dallas’ hip and growing Design District. The $80-million ‘lifestyle hotel’ is the fourth planned Virgin Hotels property in the U.S.

Also opening its doors last month was Hall Arts Hotel. Art is the cornerstone of this boutique hotel’s design, with exteriors designed to reflect the iconic architecture of the Dallas Arts District and interiors featuring contemporary art from local and international artists.

Opening later this year adjacent to the vibrant community of Deep Ellum, the seven-story Pittman Hotel will see 164 luxuriously appointed guestrooms, a pool, an outdoor and indoor restaurant and bar as well as a grand ballroom where the legendary American blues and gospel musician Lemon Henry "Blind Lemon" Jefferson once performed.

Also new to the city is the AT&T Discovery District, a $100-million project in the heart of Downtown Dallas that features a new shopping, dining and entertainment hub with shops, restaurants, a beer garden and more than 300 scheduled events and activities throughout the year.

The city that became well known in the 1970s and 1980s on the back of the popular long-running TV series Dallas has a strong line-up of tourist attractions. These include the Dallas Museum of Art, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, the Dallas World Aquarium and Reunion Tower.

Tourists will also notice a wide variety of architecture, most notably modern and postmodern structures like the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Gothic revival Kirby Building, and the Victorian and Neoclassical homes on Swiss Avenue.