Thursday, May 17, 2012

Atlanta airport now gateway to the world: new international terminal opens

Considered the world’s busiest airport, Atlanta is a gateway for many international destinations and now it’s even more welcoming for visitors either leaving or arriving via Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

More travelers than ever before will be passing through Atlanta's
airport since the Maynard H. Jackson terminal opened on May 16.
The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal opened Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at the airport.  In addition to adding 12 new gates exclusively for international flights, the $1.4 billion dollar terminal will simplify the process of arriving in Atlanta as international travelers will not be required to re-check their luggage after clearing customs. The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal is part of a $5.4 billion development program which will expand, repair and upgrade designated areas within the airport’s facilities.

Passengers aboard Delta Flight 177 from Dublin, Ireland, were the first to arrive at the international terminal’s 12-gate Concourse F.  The first departure from the 1.2 million-square-foot facility was Delta Air Lines Flight 295 to Tokyo, Japan.
 “The Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal is America’s new global gateway,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “This magnificent facility is an economic catalyst for the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the entire southeastern United States, and it will help create jobs and new business opportunities for years to come.”

Positioned at the apex of Europe and Latin America, Atlanta is a hub of international flight. Already direct flights to 165 destinations in Central and South America, as well as 115 destinations in Europe are offered through the airport. With a new international terminal, Atlanta can accommodate even more international flights. “The Maynard H. Jackson International Terminal will take advantage of Atlanta’s geographical advantages to capture additional international visitation,” said William Pate, president and CEO of Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The opening of the new terminal coincides with a push from the United States to increase international visitation. Brand USA, a $200 million marketing campaign designed to attract international travelers, has the potential to bring an additional $859 billion in economic output to the U.S by 2020. Over the next five years, overseas visitation to the United States is expected to rise 54 percent.

Information courtesy of Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Photo courtesy of Bing free photos.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Historic Arlington Hotel shines light on energy conservation

The Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa in Hot Springs, Arkansas is shedding some light on energy conservation. And by doing so the hotel recently received an incentive rebate check for almost $58,000 for replacing thousands of light bulbs with ones that are more energy efficient, along with new fluorescent fixtures and equipment.

As Arkansas’ largest hotel, located in the heart of historic Hot Springs NationalPark, the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa is a “cruise ship on land.”  It’s a self-contained resort with all of the ambiance and hospitality of a traditional, grand old Southern hotel. Established in 1875, it features full spa service in the Thermal Water Spa, fabulous restaurants, beautiful landscaping, a national park right outside any door, and easy access to arts and tourist attractions in the city.

 Martorana said the energy efficiency retrofitting was made possible with the Home Energy Affordability Loan (HEAL) Program, which is administered by the William J. Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative.  The hotel was selected as the sole program participant for its Congressional District last year, and they eagerly embraced the challenge. “We’ve retrofitted close to 11,000 light bulbs in the hotel with more energy efficient ones,” Arlington General Manager Bob Martorana said. “Bulbs in all of the hotel’s 485 guest rooms and hallways were replaced, along with some in the ballroom and restaurants. We’ve also changed out some big electric motors that provide air for the laundry and replaced them with more efficient motors as well.”

According to Martorana, in the first two months after making the changes, the hotel’s electric bill was down 80,000 kilowatts each month, even with a higher occupancy rate. “Focusing on energy conservation is a corporate responsibility,” he said. “We want to continue our architectural legacy, but at the same time we must do the right thing in ‘going green.’ 

This philosophy makes it a resort for the ages: historic and contemporary at the same time. For more information about the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, click 800-643-1502.

Information courtesy of Bob Martorana
Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa

Photo by Larry Burmeier

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

National parks by rail

Jackson Lake at Grand Teton National Park
National Parks in the United States and Canada are the cornerstone of many travelers’ summer vacations. They are also the centerpiece of more than 65 of Vacations By Rail’s well-planned independent and escorted train vacations throughout North America. Rail vacations to popular parks include iconic trains, legendary rail routes, and unmatched scenery.

“Many National Parks were made popular by the railroad, so it seems especially fitting to visit them today by train,” said Todd Powell, president of Vacations By Rail, a Chicago-based tour operator and rail travel specialist.

Of North America’s 90+ National Parks, Vacations By Rail offers itineraries to 17 within the United States and 7 in Canada. In addition to independent city stays connected by scenic rail travel, Vacations By Rail offers escorted tours that combine rail and coach travel as well as independent rail-drive and rail-cruise packages.

Examples of popular favorites include:

The 7-day Empire Builder with Glacier National Park features travel from Chicago aboard the Empire Builder train to Glacier National Park for a 4-night stay and plentiful sightseeing along the Going-to-the-Sun Road in the heart of the park's ecosystem, before continuing on to Seattle. Departures daily from June 17 to September 10.

Geyers like Old Faithful are found
throughout Yellowstone NP
California Zephyr with Yellowstone is a relaxed 8-day rail-drive vacation, letting travelers dictate what they see and do. This “at your leisure” vacation includes travel aboard the California Zephyr from Chicago to Salt Lake City and from Salt Lake City to San Francisco, 4-day car rental, sightseeing in Yellowstone National Park, and accommodations. Departures are available daily from May 1 to October 7.

The 11-day Yellowstone & Glacier By Rail escorted rail tour takes travelers across the storied western frontier including visits to Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks as well Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole, and the National Oregon/California Trail Center. Tour includes travel aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr and Empire Builder, accommodations, sightseeing and entrance fees, select meals, services of a tour director, and more. Departures June 22, July 20, August 8, and August 17.

Rocky Mountain National Park
The 15-day Canada’s Rockies & Alaska Cruise combination tour incorporates touring in Banff and Jasper National Parks and travel aboard VIA Rail’s Canadian train with a Holland America Alaska cruise calling at popular portswithin Alaska’s Inside Passage. Departures are available May 18, June 15, July 13 and August 10.

Best of the Rockies takes travelers on an 8-day rail journey through the Canadian Rockies aboard two famed trains, VIA Rail’s Canadian and the Rocky Mountaineer, with visits to two of western Canada’s renowned National Parks, Jasper and Banff. Additional highlights include excursions to the Columbia Icefield and Lake Louise and stays in Kamloops and cosmopolitan Vancouver. Departures are available on Thursdays from May 5 to September 29.

For more information, go to or call 1-877-929-7245.

Information courtesy of Lynne Bobak
Photos by Beverly Burmeier

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cruise the Amazon--save on June trips of a lifetime

La Amatista at sunset on the Amazon
You may have heard about our trip to Peru last September, which included travel into the Highlands (mountainous regions) of southern Peru followed by a small-boat cruise on the headwaters of the Amazon River. This was truly an amazing journey with spectacular scenery, wonderful accommodations and food, and the friendliest people anywhere.

International Expeditions (IE) helped Larry and me organize our first week traveling on our own (with a guide and driver) and the second week with a group of 15 on the Amazon. I highly recommend IE, not only because of their excellent service but also because a portion of fees is used to improve environmental and cultural conditions in the regions where tours take place.
Lounging on a ficus tree in the jungle
I’m including information from IE regarding specials on June excursions. If you haven’t planned your summer travel, here’s a wonderful opportunity to take an Amazon River cruise at a greatly reduced rate. (We spent a week on the Amazon on La Amatista, a different boat, but we traveled through the same territory and had the same adventures as described below).

International Expeditions, the world leader in engaging and authentic nature travel, is offering travelers a special $1,000 per person savings on its June 1 and 22, 2012 Amazon River cruises. While reaping a rare savings of more than 25 percent off regular fares, budget savvy travelers enjoy an in-depth look at the legendary nature and vibrant culture of the Peruvian Amazon.

Guests on the 10-day Amazon Voyage travel more than 600 miles into the narrow tributaries of the Amazon aboard the 24-passenger riverboat Aquamarina, enjoying chances for rare wildlife sightings. Daily outings on this small-ship adventure take travelers deep into the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve to spot diverse wildlife, hike into the rainforest, and even fish for piranha. During excursions into the narrow river tributaries, guests may spot more than 100 kinds of birds, pink and gray river dolphins, sloths, giant otters and nocturnal animals such as caimans and capybaras (We saw all of these!).
River children learn early how to use
a machete
Amazon cruise passengers also spend time with the ribereƱos, native people of the Amazon’s remote villages, handing out school supplies to children and meeting with a local shaman. Guests enjoy a glimpse into daily life while also learning about local agriculture and crafts. Ensuring a high level of authenticity, IE varies the villages guests visit during their Amazon expedition (A highlight of the trip!).

When not discussing the rainforest or village life with the local guides, guests can stargaze on the open-air top deck or sip cocktails while enjoying the evening entertainment, courtesy of the ship’s local crew of 16. A high staff-to-guest ratio — better than 2:1 — ensures that guests are well looked after during their days aboard the 24-guest Aquamarina.
Daily excursions on the Amazon in skiffs revealed
scenes like this.
Prices for the June 1 and 22, 2012 Amazon River expedition cruise start at $2,898 per person (with discount), and include accommodations, excursions, complimentary laundry aboard Aquamarina, most meals, guides, transfers, and tips to porters and waiters for included meals.

A pioneer of environmentally responsible travel, IE is committed to preserving natural habitats and improving the welfare of the people and communities it visits. International Expeditions has been named seven times to Travel + Leisure’s list of “World’s Best” tour operators & safari outfitters and to National Geographic ADVENTURE magazine’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”
For more information, call International Expeditions at 1-800-234-9620 or visit

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
Read more travel stories at Striped Pot and Austin Adventure Travel