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Single Parent Solo Travel Done Right

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Tips For Planning Ahead And Staying Safe

Single parents tend to be so busy taking care of their children, home, and work responsibilities that self care ends up at the bottom of the to-do list. Taking a vacation on your own is a great way to recharge, but there are some planning and safety tips that come in handy to ensure the trip goes well.

Traveling on your own takes planning, but can provide a much-needed reset

Parenting is stressful and doing the job alone can be especially difficult. For those working through addiction recovery, the stress at home can be overwhelming and may trigger a relapse if things build up too much. A solo vacation provides a great chance to reset; you will return feeling more capable of handling the chaos of everyday life.

Traveling as a single parent does take planning. You have to ensure that the kids will be taken care of while you are away, but you also have to take steps to ensure your own personal safety. Leave a detailed copy of your itinerary at home so that your kids know where you are and a caretaker has something to reference if things go wrong.

Back up documentation and let loved ones know your progress

Buzzfeed suggests uploading pictures or scans of all of your important documentation to a site like DropBox so you can access them on the go. Do this with items like your hotel and car reservations, ticket numbers, identification, and passport, and keep hard copies of key phone numbers and your itinerary with you at all times.

Plan regular check-ins with family or someone close to you. You may want to text, Skype, email, or call someone around the same time every day during your trip so they know you are doing well. Invest time in researching your destination thoroughly ahead of your trip so that you can focus on fun, safe places to be and won’t get stuck in a sketchy situation.

Exude confidence and trust your gut

Travel expert Rick Steve recommends that solo travelers be street smart when they are alone in an unfamiliar city. Walk with confidence and be prepared with maps, guidebooks, and cash wherever you go. If you end up confused or lost, head into a restaurant or store to ask for directions, or look for a family or woman who might help.

Be confident in saying no and trust your instincts, as you do not have to be polite to others if it risks your personal safety. Also, avoid identifying yourself as a solo traveler. For example, if you order room service, talk as if someone else is there with you. If you are in a cab or walking by yourself, make a fake phone call to make it sound as if someone is expecting you.

Don’t shy away from taking precautions

Smarter Travel notes that you should always carry identification, preferably more than one ID stashed in more than one place, and cushion your budget for unexpected needs. If you are out at night and the walk back to your room in the dark feels unsafe, spring for a taxi. Spend more for a secure hotel in a lively area rather than save a few bucks somewhere more remote that leaves you feeling isolated or unsafe.

Traveling solo as a single parent can reduce stress levels and help you recharge. For those in addiction recovery, solo travel is a chance for self-discovery and healing; a chance to get a break from triggers at home like contentious ex-partners or financial stress. Stay safe by being prepared and aware, and always exude confidence and trust your instincts. You don’t want to travel in a state of fear, but do prepare so you make it home safely feeling energized and refreshed.

 

[Image via Pixabay]

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkRestaurantsThe Left CoastTravel

Six best brunches in West LA

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Beachside Brunchin’
 

There’s no better way to brunch than being near the ocean while sippin’ on a mimosa or Bloody Mary. After all, brunch without booze is just a sad breakfast. While Los Angeles is known for having some of the best brunch spots, we want to shed some light on the west side. Here are some of the best brunch spots in the beach cities of West LA.  

1. SURFSIDE VENICE BAR + GRILL – Venice Beach  
 

Venice Beach recently welcomed Surfside Venice Bar + Grill to the boardwalk and with that, they’ve been serving brunch not only on the weekends, but seven days a week. To highlight what Surfside serves, Chef Jesse Gutierrez has created a brunch menu that features Gold’s Standard brunch burger which is their house burger with bacon, cheddar cheese and a sunny side egg on a brioche bun. The Pipeline Burrito is every breakfast burrito lover’s dream served with scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, cheddar cheese, and country potatoes served with a side of wipeout salsa. Paying homage to the community is the Muscle Beach Tofu Scramble with black beans, onions, cilantro, country potatoes, tomatoes, wipeout salsa and avocado — lot’s of avocado, served with house-made corn tortillas. The Cinnamon French Toast Plate topped with homemade whipped cream and seasonal fresh mixed berries is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. And for those searching the globe for the perfect breakfast sandwich, look no further as The Boardwalk breakfast sandwich is served with two eggs, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and cheddar cheese on a toasted baguette. “The brunch menu is delicious. I didn’t want to go 5 days without serving it!” Gutierrez says. When it comes to beverages, Surfside has a full bar and a must try is their House Bloody Mary with their secret Cajun bloody mary mix and of course, a Mimosa.
 
Surfside Venice serves brunch daily from 11:00 a.m – 2:00 p.m. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: Surfside Venice
Surfside Venice is located at
23 Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291
 
2. DOMA KITCHEN – Marina Del Rey
 
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If you’re looking to unwind after a long week by brunching on the Westside, Doma Kitchen in Marina Del Rey has just released their new brunch menu — and it’s something to roll out of bed for!
 
Every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this MDR hotspot is dishing out some of the best items in town. Brunch favorites include Lamb and Waffles featuring lamb, two fried eggs, and homemade Belgian waffles, perfect for those craving something sweet and savory. The Latkes and Eggs include two house-made potato pancakes, two sunny-side up fried eggs, served along side a cup of fruit, sour cream and apple sauce. Bacon lovers can get their fix with the Pancetta Scramble including cage free eggs, pancetta, scallions, home fries, toasted bread, herb butter and fig jam, and the Brighton Beach Benedict is something not to be missed with potato latkes, arugula, smoked salmon, poached eggs, Malta’ise sauce, red onions and capers. Doma’s Nicoise Salad is full of fresh mixed greens, Italian tuna, hard boiled eggs, green beans, warm potatoes, cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, red onions, fresh dill, topped with red wine vinaigrette. For those looking to soak up the last nights alcohol can indulge in Chef Kristina’s Double Chicken Avocado Burger a house ground chicken burger topped with smoked gouda, arugula, tomatoes, avocado and served on a brioche bun. 
 
Doma Kitchen also has a full espresso bar featuring Red Bay Coffee blended beverages, lattes, coffee and tea. Check out their full menu here.
 
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Photo Credit: Doma Kitchen
Doma Kitchen is located at 
4325 Glencoe Ave, #8, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292
 
3. THE ROCKEFELLER – Manhattan Beach & Hermosa Beach
 
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Just steps from the beach, begin your weekends a day early with brunch at The Rockefeller. Starting 11 a.m. on Fridays and 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, their brunch includes dishes such as their popular Breakfast Burrito made with braised short ribs, bacon, egg, pepper jack cheese, guacamole, hashbrowns, as well as Chicken & Waffles with bacon butter and maple syrup, French Toast made with french brioche bread, macerated berries, maple syrup, and powdered sugar, and their delicious Apple Fritters with caramel dipping sauce. The large open patio windows, bottomless mimosas with four flavors of peach, guava, watermelon, and orange, and endless selection of craft beer on tap makes The Rockefeller the go-to brunch spot to people-watch and have a relaxed day party that will seem never-ending.
 
Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: The Rockefeller
 
The Rockefeller is located at
 
1209 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
422 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
4. THE STANDING ROOM – Hermosa Beach
The Standing Room is a unique, boozy brunch spot near the beach with a menu that can satisfy and adapt to all cravings. Each dish has a unique Asian-American twist, usually with Korean or Hawaiian influence. 
 
If you’re craving a hearty breakfast, the Loaded Loco Moco comes with a half-pound beef patty, caramelized onion, cheddar cheese, kimchi fried rice, and a fried egg with homemade short rib gravy poured on top. For the active runners and yogis, they have healthier options such as their Garden Vegetable Egg White Frittata made as an arugula salad and tossed with spring vegetables. If you’re looking for something a little more classic, they can whip up their Hawaiian Bread French Toast to satisfy your sweet tooth, which comes with Nutella, sliced bananas, and toasted coconut. 
 
Aside from the food, the restaurant offers drink specials during brunch, such as bottomless mimosas, Irish coffee, and various Deep Eddy specials including Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, Greyhounds and more. 
 
The Standing Room serves brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 1pm. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: The Standing Room
The Standing Room is located at
1320 Hermosa Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
5. R10 SOCIAL HOUSE – Redondo Beach
R10 Social House is situated on one of the South Bay’s best locations– right on the marina. With floor to ceiling windows and multiple patios plus two full bars, it is the perfect spot to spend the afternoon drinking and enjoying the ocean breeze. Priding themselves on using all natural ingredients, everything from their ketchup to alcohol mixers are made in-house to ensure the highest quality and flavor being served. Choose from the wide variety on the brunch menu– from their Watermelon Summer Salad to their Huevos Rancheros to their Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, everything is sure to be a hit and keep your party going from the night before. 
 
Brunch is served every Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: R10 Social House
R10 Social House is located at 
179 N Harbor Dr, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
6. PRIMO ITALIA – Torrance
 
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For truly authentic (and truly delicious) Italian cuisine, Primo Italia has become the South Bay’s go to spot, using the freshest produce Southern California has to offer. True to its Italian roots, Primo Italia changes their menu with the seasons, reflecting the best of each and their brunch menu is no exception. Only available on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., their menu includes Panettone Toast and Rucula, a traditional Italian toasted bread dipped in eggs and milk and served with fruit, Ricotta Pancakes, served in a cast iron pan with homemade syrup– or for the truly adventurous they have regular Italian dinner items such as Lasagne and Maine Lobster.
 
Check out their full menu here
 
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Photo Credit: Primo Italia
Primo Italia is located at 
24590 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90505
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Beauty productsEat & DrinkLifestyleOutdoorsShoppingTravel

10 must-haves for end-of-summer

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Last-days-of summer essentials that will make the fun last

 

A hot Indian summer can last for weeks, or longer, after Labor Day, so don’t give up yet on fun in the sun. For summer’s last hurrah, do it right with these are six essentials for entertaining and enjoying the outdoors. Gear up and get outside, while you can.

Beach head

Let your groovy self go, with Violet Love chic headbands ($17 and up) and bandeaus ($24) that stay in place, at the beach, riding in the convertible, or wherever you head out or bust a move. This playful line of headwear, strapless bra tops and other accessories and apparel items features fun prints and styles and soft, stretchy lightweight fabrics that are comfortable, cute, and functional.

Throw on the towel

Distinguish your base camp on the beach with colorful Lacoste beach towels (Macy’s, $42). These stylish, crocodile-emblazoned towels are lightweight yet plush and absorbent, and their large size makes them a cross between a towel and blanket, to wrap up in after splashing in the water, or for sandphobes who want spacious ground cover when basking in the sun.

Blow up your kayak

If you’ve always wanted a kayak but didn’t think you had the space to store one, Innova Kayaks has a solution that blows traditional kayaks out of the water. These inflatable kayaks are lightweight and constructed of heavy duty natural and synthetic rubber that will last for years, even decades.  They blow up in minutes with a high-capacity foot pump, and after the adventuring they fold up compactly and can be carries away in an oversized backpack and loaded into even a compact car. One-person and three-seater models available, with capacity up to 900 pounds. Available at dealers nationwide $399 to $1,299.

Hot or not

Need to Facebook while you are on the beach? Stop being a lame-o and enjoy the beach, but if you do need your phone for an emergency, take along ClimateCase ($34.99) insulating smartphone case. The lined pouch protects your phone against extreme temperatures that can cause a phone to stop working.  The case features a multi-layered thermal system comprised of 7 mm of Neoprene and gel infused materials. Pop it in the fridge for four hours before using (or in the microwave for 20-25 seconds in cold weather), to keep your phone safe; or if the worst happens, you can restore an overheated (or frozen) phone in less than 60 seconds.

Skeeter-free

Mosquitos don’t stick to any calendar when it comes to biting season, so keep them away from you and your patio party with Thermacel Patio Shield.  ($39.99, at retailers nationwide). This sleek little portable-speaker-sized mosquito repeller burns an insect repellent mat that creates a 15’ x 15’ protection zone, perfect for a small outdoor area. It uses butane cartridges (four included, to last 48 hours) and two AA batteries to operate.

Coolest cooler

You’ve got your hands full, with beach chairs, blankets, boogie boards and kids. Free up a hand by strapping your cooler on your back, with the IceMule ($49.95 to $69.95), a portable insulated backpack that will keep your food and drinks icey cold for up to 24 hours. These padded sacks feature a heavy-duty inner and outer skin, a range of sizes and a ventilated backpack strap system.

Who wears skort skirts?

In between summer and fall, it’s the perfect time to wear something in between shorts and a skirt. The Royal Robbins Jammer Skort ($60) is a sporty and comfortable skirt with stretchy built-in shorts underneath that allow you to be active and lady like at the same time.

Shoe be do

Step out in fashion forward and comfort-driven Off the Beaten Track sandals. You can stride in style the best thing next to bare feet, on the boardwalk, at the theme park, shopping, strolling, or anywhere you want to wander in these casual go-anywhere, do-anything earth-inspired leathers, with attention to detail that will make you want to put your feet up, to show them off.  The line also features shoes and boots for all seasons, $79 to $179.

Hydrate, or dry

If summer’s sun had taken a toll on your skin, hydrate and refresh it with Vichy’s Mineral 89 ($29.50), a skincare formula comprised of 89% Vichy Thermal Water, derived from mineral-rich volcanic territory in Vichy, France, plus the addition of hyaluronic acid which ramps up the performance of the mineralizing water to boost skin’s resistance to daily aggressors, for year-round healthy-looking skin.

Snack on

When you are tossing some treats into your tote for an outing, its hard to find nutritious and yummy snacks that won’t melt into mush on a hot day. All-natural KUTOA snack bars ($23.99 fo r12-pack)are not only delicious, they are perfect for packing along to the beach or pool, soccer game, or other outing, and you can feel good about eating these oatmeal bars because they are non-GMO verified, vegan, gluten, and contain no dairy, soy, wheat, preservatives or added sugar, plus for every bar that’s purchased, KUTOA helps feed a children in need around the world. Flavors include Chocolate Banana, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Blueberry Almond, Chocolate Espresso Bean, and Cherry Cashew.

 

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LifestyleTechTravel

Mobile apps prove a boon and bust for hotels

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Mobile apps are becoming as central to the hotel guest experience as soft pillows, extra towels and a competitive price, according to J.D. Power

The new mantra from front desk clerks is at savvy hotels is, “Enjoy your stay—and have you downloaded our app?”

According to the J.D. Power 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study,SM released today, incorporating mobile apps and functionality into a hotel stay is associated with higher guest satisfaction. Integrating this technology also makes guests more willing to share their positive hotel experiences on social media.

The risk for hotels is that greater use of mobile devices for booking means some guests might secure a room with an online travel agency (OTA), which is associated with lower satisfaction. The industry is currently emphasizing direct booking, where a hotel guest rents a room directly through the hotel rather than another way. Pushing for more guests to become rewards members will likely enhance this effort. While OTAs remain popular among many guests, there are some disadvantages to their use, such as the need to deal with a third party if problems arise with a reservation.

“As mobile usage becomes increasingly ubiquitous for guests, the challenge for hotels becomes twofold: First, they must persuade guests to book directly with them, and second, they must encourage easy utilization of this technology,” said Rick Garlick, practice lead, travel and hospitality at J.D. Power. “By forging direct relationships, hotels can become guardians of the guest experience, but at the center of these relationships is an establishment’s mobile strategy.”

The study, now in its 21st year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; upper midscale; midscale; economy; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food & beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost & fees. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

Following are key findings of the 2017 study:

Direct booking: When guests book through an independent travel website or mobile app (e.g., Expedia, Travelocity) instead of directly with the hotel, they are more likely to experience a problem and to be less satisfied with their stay.

Membership matters: Hotel rewards members are far more likely to book directly with a hotel or on a loyalty member site than those who are not members (75% vs. 47%, respectively), and their satisfaction is higher. The number of those who book through OTAs is increasing (19% in 2017 vs. 16% in 2013), despite the concerns some guests have ranging from earning hotel rewards to strict cancellation policies.
Mobile mania: In 2014, 14% of online reservations were made using mobile means (smartphone or tablet), and now that percentage is 25%. Those utilizing mobile reservations are more likely to be younger or business travelers.

Not so mobile mania: Among guests who have a hotel’s app on their mobile device, 38% don’t use it during their stay. Only a tiny percentage of check-ins (4%) and check-outs (1%) occurs through mobile apps, but when it is used, it is associated with higher guest satisfaction.
Get ’em to try the app: Guests who download and use a hotel’s mobile app are more satisfied and have greater loyalty to that brand. While only 19% of all guests have downloaded a hotel app, 70% of rewards members have done so.

Social media surprise: Despite the perception that people posting to social media only do so to complain, guests describing their experience via these channels appear to be more satisfied overall. At the same time, those who do experience a problem are extremely likely to post to social media (86%).

Reading is fundamental: Slightly more than half (52%) of guests have read a review of a hotel, industry news or an online forum in the past month, and 46% of those guests wrote a review in the past six months. Review readers and writers are also more likely to have higher guest satisfaction.

Hotel Segment Rankings

“While The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott rank highest in the luxury segment, both of these Marriott-affiliated brands appeal to different types of customers,” Garlick said. “It’s important to remember that this study measures guest satisfaction among a hotel brand’s own customers and doesn’t directly compare hotel brands to one another. Often, the type of guest becomes an important element in determining satisfaction rankings.”

The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments:

Luxury: JW Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton1 (tie)
Upper Upscale: Hyatt
Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn (for a second consecutive year)
Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a 12th consecutive year2)
Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham (for a third consecutive year)
Economy: Americas Best Value Inn
Upper Extended Stay: Staybridge Suites
Extended Stay: Candlewood Suites

The 2017 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2016 and May 2017 from more than 63,000 guests in Canada and the United States who stayed at a hotel in North America between May 2016 and May 2017.

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AutomobilesDIYLifestyleTravel

Wax on, wax off

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Protect your paint and interior and keep all systems go for summer road trips

Just like your Mom told you, even if the sun is behind the clouds, UV rays can be damaging to your skin; but bet she didn’t mention what those rays can do to your vehicle.  Sun, heat, salty sea air and other harsh environmental elements can take a serious toll on your car or truck, inside and out, and under the hood.  Get your car ready for summer vacation with these DIY maintenance tips.

 

  • Check your tires. There’s nothing worse than a flat tire on your road trip. Be sure to check for proper inflation pressure, especially since under-inflated tires consume more energy, therefor giving you poorer gas mileage.

 

  • Protect your car from the sun. Similar to protecting your skin with sun tan lotion, it’s important to shield vinyl, plastic and rubber surfaces on your car from the sun’s harsh UV rays. You can use a product like Meguiar’s Ultimate Protectant, which creates a rich shine & darkness on interior surfaces, while bringing new life to exterior trim, moldings & tires. 

 

  • Wash and wax your car. Your car’s finish can easily fade and rust from the salty air and sunshine. Be sure to give your car a solid wash and don’t forget to wax before heading toward the shore. You can use Meguiar’s Ultimate Fast Finish, the easiest and fastest way to wax your vehicle in just 10 minutes. Simply spray and wipe with a microfiber towel and your vehicle will have a slick, protective top coat that will deliver up to one full year of water beading protection—no buffing required.

 

  • Clean the underside of the hood. Any salt and grime build-up remaining from the winter months along with added beach salt could harm electrical connections and fuel and brake lines. Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Cleaner/Degreaser can help wipe away bugs, tar and other unwanted hitchhikers on surfaces and can also help control mold and mildews as well as fungicidal growth.

  • It’s hot out there…don’t forget about your cooling system. The last thing you need on your relaxing trip is a problem under the hood. It’s important to inspect your antifreeze/coolant to make sure it’s free of debris and contaminants. If you notice an issue, flush and fill your system with a mixture of 50 percent concentrated antifreeze and 50 percent distilled water. If your reservoir is low, you can easily top off with Prestone® 50/50 Prediluted Antifreeze/Coolant with patented Cor-Guard® corrosion inhibitors.

  • Wipers! Even if you have not used your windshield wipers in a while, they need regular replacing due to dry rot that can make them ineffective when you need them.  Rain-X Arch beam blade wipers are a step up from standard wipers as they have a curved design engineered to improve pressure distribution on the windshield and a graphite coating, so that they wipe smoothly and chatter-free, plus they are simple to install with nearly all wiper arm styles.
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AdventureLifestyleOutdoorsThe Left CoastTravel

A summer snow skiing vacation in Lake Tahoe

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Mountain resorts make history by extending ski season to July Fourth

 

Careful what you wish for

For the first time in history, mountain resorts in Lake Tahoe have officially extended their ski season through July 4th weekend. After several dry winters, the Lake Tahoe resorts saw their snowiest season on record, reporting 700 inches of snow, approximately 300 percent more snow than a normal season. While the Reno-Tahoe area has always attracted many year-round visitors, for art and culture events and outdoor activities on the mountains and Lake Tahoe, this year visitors will enjoy an epic après ski.

 

For anyone who didn’t make it yet to Tahoe for the 2016-17 ski season, or for those who didn’t get enough, excellent powder and no crowds make it a perfect time to visit. And that’s just what a couple of my besties and I did, on a blizzard of a vacay of skiing, dining and lounging, hitting five resorts, in five days.

Parking it at Parc Foret

Our posse met up in Reno, where we enjoyed ultra-luxurious accommodations at the Parc Foret at Montreux. If you haven’t heard of it, this enclave of the Montreux master-planned development of luxury homes, about 30 minutes from the Reno-Tahoe airport, is a high desert oasis with year-round appeal, known for its 300 days of sunshine, world-class golfing, nearby casinos and nightlife, and of course, its proximity to the mountain resorts.

As we arrived at Parc Foret and got directions from the guard at the gatehouse to our abode, we kept looking for the landmark of the clubhouse, but we got confused, because we mistook every gigantor eight-bedroom manse on the street as the clubhouse.  “Oh, there it is; no, that’s a house. Now I see it, oops, that’s another house…”

 

 

The custom-built homes in the Montreux development impressed us with both their grandeur and design. We were lucky enough to experience the Stay and Play package, whereby potential homeowners are invited to reside a few days in the community – a clever marketing tactic, as its pretty impossible not to fall in love with the place.

Our modest 7200-square-foot house featured an open floor plan on the first level with a full kitchen and marble bar that opened into an enormous family room with a long, wall-to-wall gas fireplace, a perfect for gathering place to hang after a day on the mountain.

Each of us had our own grand master bedroom and bath, and there was plenty of space to spread out, from the downstairs game room and bar to the sunny deck overlooking the snowy woods. We also enjoyed lounging around our outdoor fireplace, right outside the front door.

We felt very at home at Montreux, where we were taken in at the clubhouse by the residents with whom we made fast friends, dancing the night away at a private party, as the DJ played surprisingly current rap and hip-hop. We were tempted to hang out there all day and skip the skiing, but the mountains kept calling our names.

Looking at the slopes through Mt. Rose-colored goggles

Our first stop was Mt. Rose, which is so close to the airport – about a 25-minute drive – that the resort offers discounted lift tickets for those who show their same-day airline boarding passes.

The resort is known for its spectacular views and its mellow attitude.  The resort features terrain for all levels as well as the longest continuous vertical in North America; and at 8,260 feet elevation, Mt. Rose is Tahoe’s highest base resort, which means the resort often has the best conditions even on the warmest spring days. As far as amenities, Mt. Rose is pretty much hard-core skiing, with not a lot of frills, but this may all change soon as the owners plan to develop it soon into a luxury resort.

Skiing large at Squaw Alpine

Our second day we spent at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadow, now known as Squaw Alpine since the two neighboring resorts merged in 2012.  The resort is massive in size, boasting a combined 6,200 acres and 43 lifts and 270 trails, attracting 6000,000 skiers a year. Although lift tickets and amenities are interchangeable, the two resorts feature distinctly different feels to visitors.

Squaw, famed as the site for the 1960 Olympics and recently voted as the top resort in North America by USA Today, is a high-energy resort that attracts many professional skiers, though it has a variety of terrain, including 25 percent beginner’s slopes. Alpine Meadows is known for its down-home and approachable hospitality and its easy-riding progression parks and wide-open bowls, with terrain for all levels of skiers.

Because of Squaw Alpine’s size and resources, it has amazing offerings. From tubing and snowmobiling, to dog sledding and ice-skating, there’s just about no snow sport you can’t do there. There is also a lovely village at Squaw with terrific dining and shopping and generally except for holiday weekends, it’s not too crowded.

Wishing upon Northstar

On day three we hit Northstar California, aptly named for its location on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. The resort is part of the Vail Group which also includes the Tahoe resorts of Northstar, Heavenly and Kirkwood, which all have the reputation as resorts dedicated to a premier visitor experience.

It was a bit of a drive from Parc Foret, about an hour and half, but we were glad to make a day of our venture to this luxury destination. Northstar features a Ritz-Carlton and other upscale accommodations and dining for visitors who like their skiing experience made easy. On-mountain dining includes the popular Zephyr Lodge, accessible by tram for pedestrians, which makes mincemeat of the standard chili and hot cocoa lodge fare with gourmet cuisine, which of course comes at a cost, but the typical Northstar clientele are not too concerned about a $25 lunch.

Northstar prides itself in its laid-back luxury, which is exactly what it sounds like. You’re treated like a VIP, but the tenor of the staff and the vibe in the village is definitely not uptight. The resort features amenities such as a valet who will carry your skis to the snow’s edge, though if you are staying in the luxury accommodations in the village, there’s hardly a reason for such a service, since the slopes are about 100 feet from your door step. In true ski-in-ski out fashion, one of the gondolas actually travels underneath the village condominiums.

Treasure of Sierra-at-Tahoe

As a storm came in, we rushed on our second to last day of vacation to Sierra at Tahoe. Unfortunately, the only road up to the mountain was bumper-to-bumper with other vacationers on the holiday weekend with the same idea. We spent more than 90 minutes edging up the hill for the last 7 miles to the top. The situation got a little desperate after morning coffee, forcing us to make an unscheduled stop behind a snow mound for a potty break.

The lumbering ride up to Sierra-at-Tahoe is worth the trip though. Having the only half-pipe on the south shore, Sierra is popular with snowboard riders, and because of its focus on value and affordable lift ticket packages, it draws many day users, making base camp a vibrant place to hang out. Being on the south shore, Sierra is also close to the night life and casinos, so it has become a favored resort of the party crowd.

In keeping with their theme of fun in the snow, Sierra’s kids lessons and the Smart Terrain classes for all ages are led by qualified instructors, upon whom the resort has bestowed the Certified Unserious badge, a designation that guarantees, among other things, that staff are dedicated to guests learning in a fun environment suited for their skill level.

 

Heavenly Can’t Wait

Our last day was at Heavenly Mountain Resort, which in my experience skiing there for more than 25 years has always lived up to its name. As the resort with the highest elevation of the Lake Tahoe area resorts, with a peak elevation of 10,067 feet, Heavenly has some of the most magnificent vistas. For skiers who like their terrain raw, Heavenly has no shortage of intense backcountry terrain, along with plenty of varied terrain from wide-open cruisers fo plunging 1,600-foot chutes. While they didn’t need it this year, Heavenly owns the largest snow-making system in the area, so even during dry years, they usually have decent conditions.

Our last journey down the mountain was on Roundabout, a winding narrow intermediate trail that traverses the mountain at a leisurely pace, sometimes where we had to use our poles to push ourselves. It’s a good thing the mellow terrain allowed us to catch our breath, as it would have been taken away by the spectacular views we got to enjoy all the way down.

Cool digs

We changed our accommodations our last two nights to the new Hotel Becket, a Joie de Vivre property.  It was quite a switch from our Parc Foret three-bedroom luxury home, but we expected and got a different experience at this uber cool millennial lodging spot. Directly across from the Heavenly Village of restaurants and bars, and sporting its own Ten Crows Restaurant, this happening hotspot is social central.

The hotel has everything a guest needs for a quick and comfortable slumber, wide screen TV, Wi-Fi, spa services, etc., and guests’ choice of rooms, either the rustic alpine charm of the Sierra-style Woods rooms, or the newly renovated and contemporary Village rooms, with architectural details such as reclaimed barn wood doors. But honestly, the target clientele of this hotel does not spend much time holed up in a hotel room, no matter how luxuriously appointed.

Rent-and-go

Hands down the most aggravating part of the skiing is returning rental equipment, but our newfound friends at Tahoe Dave’s made it a breeze.

Getting our gear there was much smarter than renting at each resort. We kept the gear overnight and saved ourselves the hassle of waiting in lines to rent and return gear each day. The folks at the shop were highly knowledgeable and helpful. They are also great salespeople, as they convinced us to buy the top-of-the-line ski goggles with chroma-pop lenses, which we were glad we did when we skied in blowing snow and the goggles did their job of amazingly sharpening the definition of the contours on the terrain.

You’ll be coming year-‘round the mountain

Even if you don’t want to hit the slopes for summer, there are plenty of warmer-weather attractions that will be in full swing during the overlap of spring skiing and summer season, such as scenic gondola rides and even a mountain coaster at Heavenly, as well as mountain biking, hiking, camping, ropes courses and ziplines, river boat tours, fishing adventures, water sports on the chilly waters of Lake Tahoe – and fun events like Squaw’s Peaks and Paws dog swim fest – bring a boon of year-round business.

While for ski resorts generally the rule is there can’t be enough snow, the 2016-17 season was a challenge. Some resorts brought in snow melting equipment from New York to clear parking lots. Also, because of the fierce storms and winds, many chairlifts were grounded and slopes opened late or not at all due to dangerous weather conditions.

The good news of course is that a more than 60 feet of snow is slow to melt, and for the first time ever, après ski will include Fourth of July fireworks.

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The Eastern SeaboardTravel

Busch Gardens Old Country, where old is better

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There’s a lot of ballyhoo about Southern California theme parks being the best in the nation, but as an Los Angeles replant and frequent visitor to all the usual suspects (Disneyland, California Adventures, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld, Six Flags, etc.,) I believe Busch Gardens  in Williamsburg, Virginia, can hold its own against the park super powers.

Ride of My Life

On a recent trip back to my home state of Virginia our family of two adults and two six-year-olds planned a two-day visit to Busch Gardens in historic Williamsburg.  My childhood memories of the place are still fresh.  I recall riding the famed Loch Ness Monster when it opened in 1978, and the fear in my heart as a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace played softly over the stereo system as my brother and I waited in line.  My parents refused to go on this crazy upside-down looping roller coaster over a pond of water.  I thought my folks were being wimpy and lame, in the day.

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So here I was some — choke — 36 years later, looking at the twisting interlocking loops and the 130-foot drop above the park’s Rhine River, I tried to beg my son — the only one of our party eager to brave this beast — out of going on this ride.  He was steadfast.  So I waited in line with him hoping for the ideal situation which thankfully presented itself.  Another boy, a bit older and much taller, was also seeking a buddy to ride in the two-seater car with him.   Away they went, eyes wide with trepidation.  A few minutes later, the laughing boys arrived back at the station screaming, “We want to go again!”

Even on a mid-summer day, in July, we were able to ride again and again on our favorite rides.  This was something that we had found impossible at SoCal parks, where even with a Fast-Pass, if you can figure out the system, you are lucky to ride any of the premium rides more than once in a day.  Perhaps it was the horribly humid Virginia summer heat that kept tourists away, or the economy that is still not recovered enough for many families to spring for the admission price ($72 for 10 and up, $62 for 9 and under), but we found the crowd, even at peak times, to be manageable, and I dare say pleasanter than at left coast parks, possibly owing to the polite and genteel nature of folks south of the Mason-Dixon line.

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Into the Woods

Besides quick-moving lines for rides, another recommender for Busch Gardens is the lush environs.  Each time I visit Northern Virginia, right off the plane at Dulles Airport I am always immediately struck by the difference in vegetation. The thick woods of green trees and fields of green grass and farms along the roadside are a sight for dry eyes accustomed to the dusty expanses of cacti and other succulents and the non-native palm trees of LA.  Busch Gardens has somehow preserved this dense greenery even at the center of the park. Roller coasters zoom through them, tug boats chug beside them and the train that circles the park lumbers around these shady forests of old-growth trees, which are an enchanting retreat from the sun on hot days.

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While our family is always impressed with the impeccable upkeep at Disney parks, Busch Gardens truly earns its 23-years-running accolade as the nation’s most beautiful theme park, as voted by the National Amusement Park Historical Association (NAPHA).  Adults can appreciate the quant reproduction of Europe as represented by nine villages in six countries, and kids will find the grandest assortment of thrill rides along with kiddie rides to satisfy every age and degree of daringness.  We all do love the wonderful “experiences” at Disney, but for older kids who really want to have their cranium shaken, Busch Gardens has it all — the soaring Apollo’s Chariot hyper coaster, the snow monster floor-dropping Alpengiest, the insane 205-foot free-falling Griffon, and the Verbolten autobahn racetrack coaster for starters.  Then there’s DaVinci’s Cradle, which I boarded thinking it was a mild-mannered giant swing to soon realize this massive raft-like ride was working its way up to a full circle rotation that left me wondering what sort of engineering feat enabled this contraption to stay standing while subjecting us and its foundation to such a magnitude of centrifugal force.  We also loved the scare of Curse of DarKastle which was like Disney’s Haunted Mansion on 3D steroids.

Hot Enough for Ya?

On boiling hot days like when we visited, the park has misters to cool off visitors, and there are splash and soak rides, like Escape from Pompeii, Le Scoot and Roman Rapids that provide relief, but in the case of weather, the SoCal parks win, as even when it hits triple digits it never feels hot and sticky like an East Coast summer.  Speaking of attractions where the West wins, Busch Gardens’ Europe in the Air simulator ride is a poor imitation of Soarin’ Over California, the latter which I could ride all day, and the former which literally made all of us nearly lose our lunch from motion sickness.

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During our visit we got treated to Star Spangled Nights, a fireworks display after dark that added extra excitement to our evening experience.  The park hosts several special events like this year round, including an extraordinary holiday light display during the park’s Christmastown winter season event.

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History Repeats Itself

Of course, Busch Gardens’ Old Country pales in comparison to the surrounding city of Williamsburg, which includes Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown and Jamestown.  Visitors who come for the theme park should book at least a couple of days to explore this amazing throwback to our country’s earliest days with exhibits that show what life was like as early as 1607 when the first Virginia settlement was founded.

There are many places to stay in Williamsburg, and because it is a terrific place for recurring vacationers many time share developments offer affordable extended stay accommodations.  Just a few minutes away from the park, we discovered a spacious and comfortable townhouse at Kings Creek Plantation, where we had all the amenities of home in a two-bedroom, two-bath unit which included a living and dining area and a fully equipped kitchen.

Our stay was two days and one night, which was not nearly long enough to explore the tip of the Historic Triangle and all the offerings of Williamsburg, but it’s reasonable to say that this destination has been standing beautifully preserved for centuries, and it will be there for us for our next visit, which we will definitely make soon.

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The Left CoastTravel

The little wine country that could: Temecula Valley Wine Country

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The first thing you pick up on meeting the folk of Temecula Valley wine country is that they love where they live and what they do.  Take one part wine, two parts passion, add family, and you get a blend of people dedicated to their craft of wine making and their lifestyle in this best-kept-secret valley of Southern California.

Home to about three dozen wineries, a number that increases almost annually, Temecula is growing in popularity as a wine country destination in California, partly because of its warm and inviting hospitality and optimal climate for growing grapes but mostly because of its outstanding wines that continue to win national awards, often to the chagrin of their brethren wine makers to the north.

Temecula’s wine roots

Owner of Baily Vineyard and Winery, Phil Baily, a pioneer of the Temecula Valley winemaking business, recalled how he took a risk in 1986 when he announced his new winery would release its first vintage in the French Beaujolais nouveau tradition, after just a few weeks of fermenting.  Baily had beginners luck, earning the praise of wine aficionados and critics, including a Los Angeles Times reviewer, who helped put Baily on the map.  The rest is history.

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Now Baily helps his fellow winemakers hone their craft.  While his neighbors are his competitors, they all share the goal of making better and better wines in Temecula

Nick Palumbo, owner of Palumbo Family Vineyards and Winery, a forty-something winemaker who is one of the youngest owners in the region, says the spirit of collaboration has made Temecula a great place to make wine.

“If I have a problem, I go to these guys who have been doing it for decades, and they make me work for the answer, but they share their education and expertise.  They understand that if one of us does well, we all do well,” says Palumbo.

Palumbo, a former New York indie rocker and chef, bought a farm and moved to the area in 1998.  He lives on the farm with cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens along with his wife and four children and says Temecula has answered his dreams of having a livelihood and lifestyle where he can spend quality time with his family and pursue his passion for marrying his love of food and music.

“Wine and food and music are all intrinsically related,” said Palumbo.  “It’s a great life.  We keep it simple.  We grow grapes, and we make wine.”

A Valley awash with passion

The note that repeats throughout conversations with denizens of the region is the good life that valley brings.  The small town feeling, where everyone knows everyone, is a point of pride for the people who live there, and it’s what attracts new growers to the area.

David Bradley is typical of the atypical winegrower who landed in Temecula.  At age 14 Bradley learned to pilot hot air balloons, and he and his wife Gail now own California Dreamin’ Balloon Adventures and Videmia Winery in Temecula.

As Bradley toured above the region’s vineyards, he met many of the characters in Temecula who made wine. He learned about their craft and shared facts and lore about the region with passengers. Bradley continued to educate himself, gleaning from his experience as a pilot who studied the subtleties of region’s climate, and utilizing his familiarity with science as the grandson of a chemist, and eventually he realized his dream of buying a vineyard and winery where today he and his wife and close-knit family of four boys make wine together and enjoy the bounty of the land.

After returning from a 6 am sunrise balloon tour, Bradley is just getting started with his day as the heat rises to 90 degrees, and it’s only 8:30 am.  He and his boys are showing some tourists the wonders of wine, with hands-on, or rather feet-on interaction, including a stomp competition where visitors smash grapes in a barrel barefoot to produce carafes of juice (don’t worry, it’s used in compost, not for drinking).

As Bradley stands in the shade of an umbrella by the winery’s makeshift restaurant, consisting of a bar and a mishmash of patio chairs and tables dressed with floral tablecloths and adorned with centerpieces of glass jars with olive branches, he removes his safari hat and runs his fingers through is shoulder length spiral-curly hair and reminisces with visitors about his love of wine and the Temecula lifestyle.  Just then, two of the family’s mutt dogs that roam the property dash through the crowd chasing a wild rabbit.  They don’t catch it, but the tourists delight in watching the dogs sniff around frantically in search of their prey.  Bradley looks at the crowd, as if to say, “Need I say more.”

Passion meets paradise

If you needed more convincing about the wonders of Temecula Valley, just ask Maria Mello, who worked at Vindemia as an intern, splitting her time between Palumbo’s winery and Vindemia Winery.  After studying winemaking techniques in France, Germany and South Africa, she connected via LinkedIn with Bradley and planned a trip out to see this budding wine country.

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Mello, who is now back in school pursuing her doctorate, was intrigued by Temecula as an up-and-coming wine country where she could bring her latest techniques and concepts to a place where viticulture was still blossoming and receptive to new ideas, rather than to areas like Napa or Sonoma, where she felt the old ways are more established. Upon meeting Bradley, Mello learned like many in the valley who know him and his family, Vindemia is a place where learning and challenging the expected is a lifelong passion, and it was a perfect proving ground for her as a budding winemaker.

The Temecula Valley way

The wineries of Temecula Valley are like each wine — each has its own unique flavor, personality and experience.  While the list of wineries is too long to inventory here in this article, and each winery cannot be summed up in a sentence, here are a few highlights of the Valley’s offerings.

Lorimar Vineyards and Winery boasts captivating views of the Valley and a philosophy that art and wine belong together, so they blend their handcrafted fruit-forward wines with live music, local art and gourmet food.

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Miramonte Winery is an artisan winery specializing in adventurous, succulent Rhone-based varietal wines.  This cliffside winery is also known for its gorgeous garden verandas, casual chic tasting room, and jam packed music and events calendar.

Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyards, which offers lodging at the Wilson Creek Manor, is the most family oriented of the Temecula Valley wineries, with a playground for children and the welcoming party of Gerry and Rosie, the founding grande dame and gentleman of the winery, who frequently tour the property escorted by their pet pig Molly on a leash.

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Ponte Winery is a romantic getaway surrounded by 300 acres of mature vineyards and views of rolling hills. Ponte began farming the vineyards in 1984 and opened the winery in 2003. The winery’s excellent service has become a benchmark for great service among Temecula wineries. Their motto is “If you like it, it’s good wine.”

Maurice Car’rie Winery offers a charming arts and crafts fair every weekend, and features an inviting picnic grounds where patrons can browse the fair and enjoy a bottle of wine.

A few of the wineries offer accommodations in addition to the few hoteliers in the area, including Temecula Creek Inn, which features excellent restaurants on site and a unique 1800s bunkhouse for special events.

While a trip to the Valley to explore the wineries any time of year is worthwhile, the area hosts a number of events to showcase the wineries, such as tastings, art and crafts shows, and tours. Besides wineries, the area also offers quaint shops like the Temecula Lavender Company, the Old Town Sweet Shop, and the Temecula Olive Oil Company, which offers tastings of their variety of flavored olive oils. For kids, the Penny Pickle’s Workshop is a cornucopia of fun activities for curious young scientists and adventurers.

 

For more on the wineries in the area and what’s happening in Temecula Valley wine country, visit www.TemeculaWines.org.

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Travel

United CEO says airline will give $10K to re-accommodated passengers

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In case you didn’t see it, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a mea culpa yesterday, apologizing for the horrible handling of “re-accommodating” a passenger who was left bloodied and dazed after security thugs dragged him from his seat.

While many outraged consumers vowed to #neverflyunited, as a frequent traveler, I often do not have the luxury of being choosing when it comes to flights, due to price and scheduling considerations, but now I don’t have to feel guilty about flying United again. And I do love that the subject line of his email letter was “Actions Speak Louder than Words,” which happens to be my favorite adage.

As a PR professional, I was astounded at the blunders United made immediately following this incident, but clearly they are feeling the sting of disappointing their client base, as in financially they are taking a hit, so they are doing the right thing by upping their compensation for involuntary removal from a flight due to overbooking to $10,000, and they are raising their reimbursement for permanently lost luggage to $1,500 – no questions asked.

I applaud these moves to regain consumer loyalty and trust, and I hope this puts pressure on other airlines to follow suit, though I do have to wonder if people will start purposely buying tickets on overbooked flights or doing everything they can to “lose” their luggage; but hopefully this will simply signal a turn for passenger rights, a movement that started several years ago but still have not put consumers in the pilot’s seat.

Here’s Munoz’ letter in its entirety:

Each flight you take with us represents an important promise we make to you, our customer. It’s not simply that we make sure you reach your destination safely and on time, but also that you will be treated with the highest level of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect.

Earlier this month, we broke that trust when a passenger was forcibly removed from one of our planes. We can never say we are sorry enough for what occurred, but we also know meaningful actions will speak louder than words.

For the past several weeks, we have been urgently working to answer two questions: How did this happen, and how can we do our best to ensure this never happens again?

It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values. Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.

Fixing that problem starts now with changing how we fly, serve and respect our customers. This is a turning point for all of us here at United – and as CEO, it’s my responsibility to make sure that we learn from this experience and redouble our efforts to put our customers at the center of everything we do.

That’s why we announced that we will no longer ask law enforcement to remove customers from a flight and customers will not be required to give up their seat once on board – except in matters of safety or security.

We also know that despite our best efforts, when things don’t go the way they should, we need to be there for you to make things right. There are several new ways we’re going to do just that.

We will increase incentives for voluntary rebooking up to $10,000 and will be eliminating the red tape on permanently lost bags with a new “no-questions-asked” $1,500 reimbursement policy. We will also be rolling out a new app for our employees that will enable them to provide on-the-spot goodwill gestures in the form of miles, travel credit and other amenities when your experience with us misses the mark. You can learn more about these commitments and many other changes at hub.united.com.

While these actions are important, I have found myself reflecting more broadly on the role we play and the responsibilities we have to you and the communities we serve.

I believe we must go further in redefining what United’s corporate citizenship looks like in our society. You can and ought to expect more from us, and we intend to live up to those higher expectations in the way we embody social responsibility and civic leadership everywhere we operate. I hope you will see that pledge express itself in our actions going forward, of which these initial, though important, changes are merely a first step.

Our goal should be nothing less than to make you truly proud to say, “I fly United.”

Ultimately, the measure of our success is your satisfaction and the past several weeks have moved us to go further than ever before in elevating your experience with us. I know our 87,000 employees have taken this message to heart, and they are as energized as ever to fulfill our promise to serve you better with each flight and earn the trust you’ve given us.

We are working harder than ever for the privilege to serve you and I know we will be stronger, better and the customer-focused airline you expect and deserve.

With Great Gratitude,

Oscar Munoz
CEO
United Airlines

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AdventureTravel

Suiting up for spring snow sports with fly hi-tech gear

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Trew-Chariot-Back-640x471This year’s epic snow sports season is likely to go strong into late spring and even early summer months. Some North American resorts have reported on high-snowfall years that their slopes stay open as late as the Fourth of July. So gear up in style for spring skiing and riding with these slick head-turning fashions and take advantage of some great near-the-end-of-season sales prices.

Pull on your big-boy/girl bibs

Bibs are back in a big way. The sister of the full-on zip-up onesie snowsuit of the 70s, ski bibs are rising up as the nouveau chic on the slopes. Not only do they look stylish and sassy, they are the far better choice for snow wear than traditional ski or snowboard pants. Bibs are perfect when you want a bit of extra warmth over a fleece pullover or under layer, but you don’t want to wear a vest. For aggressive riders and steers, the bibs come up high under the arms to prevent snow from getting in your waistband. They also stay up, so you don’t find yourself constantly tugging and adjusting your waist band, which is especially a hassle with gloves on.

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A hot and hip company, Trew, is leading the revival of bibs, with their high-performance bibs, that style spotters are seeing all over the best resorts this season, like the Trewth ($399) men’s bibs that set the standard for tit-to-toes coverage, or Trew’s already legendary women’s Chariot bibs ($399) that tackle the biggest complaint about bibs for women, with its “she pee” side zip (check it out here https://trewgear.com/trew/trew-updates/article/bathroom-break-in-your-bibs), that makes bathroom breaks easy and fast.

They also have beaucoup pockets for stuffing glasses, digital lift tickets, lip balm, wallets and other necessaries for the slopes. The styling of the Trew bibs, with bright colors and water repellent materials and fashionable bright colored zips and trims, will make you stand out in the snow. When it’s time to chill out in the lodge, you can roll them down to the waist, but they look pretty cool anyway you wear them.

Who wears the pants?

All that said about bibs, if you choose to go traditional, Trew has perfected snow pants, with the plentiful pocket design and fashion forward colors and trim, with an adjustable Velcro strip to keep the waistband snug. The pants for a little larger opening at the leg for heftier snowboard boots. For women, the Tempest ($349) features an adjustable waist, long legs, and three-dimensional articulated panel design that fits all shapes of physiques.  For guys, the Eagle ($349) pant is articulated and ventilated for sidecountry stash runs, with durability for long days hot-lapping your local mountain, and relaxed for comfort.

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As with all the Trew stormproof wear, their technologically advanced proprietary material, Dermizax®NX, is tops in breathability and toughness. The water-repellent membrane keeps you dry after fall, and next to the skin the material keeps you warm yet it is breathable, with ventilation openings.

As someone who has gone through many snow pants due to rivets popping, zippers tearing off we’re getting stuck, and seems tearing open, Trew has impressed me with its durability, looking and wearing like new for an entire season.

Top it off

For spring shredding, pair bibs with a lightweight water-repellent cold breaker like Trew’s Stella ($190) women’s fly freeride shell that has set the standard for the industry with its tailored-to-flatter, articulated-to-shred, and built-to-last design.

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Layer up

Underneath it all, Trew’s women’s lightweight Nuyard Merino ¼ Zip (sale priced $109) is ultimate hi-tech baselayer, woven with NuYarn merino, a  warmer, softer, better thermal-regulating and more mobile wool than its traditional merino brethren.  For warmer days, the Merino Sweater ¼ Zip (sale priced $55) keeps out the chill and regulates as you move, and it looks sharp and stylish for hitting the lodge apres ski.

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Hot mitts

Serius Heat Touch Torche component gloves ($394.99) may be the first gloves you have to read a manual to use, but hands down you will be wearing the smartest gloves on the mountain with these on your mitts. These three-in-one gloves have a battery-heated component glove that slips inside an insulated shell. They can be worn together or separately and with or without the heating batteries. The heat can dial down for spring skiing or up when you are at the top of the peak and the temps drop. Charge the batteries for about three hours, insert the batteries into the wrist cuff and press the button to the desired heat level.  What’s even smarter, and you can swipe away on your smart phone screen while wearing these gloves.

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Pack it up

Nothing’s more of a drag on your travels than hauling a bulky duffle around stuffed with all your gear.  You don’t have to lighten your load and leave stuff behind, instead get rolling with the massively spacious Eagle Creek ORV Trunk 36 ($419) or ORV Trunk 30 ($359).  This bag fits all your winter adventure gear plus the kitchen sink, with lots of pockets and compartments to keep wet stuff separate from dry and all your gear easily accessible. Some extra bells and whistles include an Equipment Keeper Porter Key with bottle opener, exterior and interior compression straps, and an external pocket for easy grab items. All that and a waterproof boot bin, to boot.

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