Posts in the category "Holidays":

High-flying Valentine’s Day packages

Valentine couple

On Valentine’s Day, winning a heart can cost an arm and a leg.

In 2013, Americans spent about $18.6 billion (an average $131 per person,) on Valentine’s Day cards, candy, jewelry, flowers, clothing, meals and other gifts, according to the National Federation of Retailers.

And that doesn’t take into account the cash some flush romantics spend on over-the-top hotel packages.

This year, for example, the Pelican Grand Beach Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is offering a $13,000, three-night “Mega Yachts & Martinis” package through Feb. 28 with one night on a private chartered yacht and two nights in an oceanfront suite.

It includes sedan service to and from the yacht, catered shipboard meals and a magnum of Moët & Chandon. Back on land, there are “bottomless martinis” in the lounge—with a limit of five per person.

In Miami Beach, the three-night, $55,000 “Turn the Lights Down Low” package at the W South Beach Hotel is available Feb. 13 through 17.

In addition to a penthouse suite, this package provides round-trip helicopter transportation between Miami International Airport and Miami Beach’s Watson Island helipad, a Ferrari California loaner car and an aphrodisiac menu served en suite on Valentine’s Day. A seaplane tour of South Florida, a Miami night sky helicopter tour and a four-hour sunset cruise with dinner on a 120-foot yacht round things out.

Too busy to plan a special evening but thinking of popping the question on Valentine’s Day? Then the “Capital Engagement” package available Feb. 10 to 16 at the Capella Washington, D.C., might work for you.

Priced at the lucky sum of $777,777, this package has a long list of activities and amenities, including private jet transport for two from anywhere in the United States to Washington, two nights in the hotel’s presidential suite, a five-course en-suite dinner with a string trio accompaniment and a private tour of Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.

The engagement part of the package covers (commercial) flights, hotel rooms and meals for 20 guests; a surprise rooftop engagement party; and a 5.01-carat diamond engagement ring.

“We’ll take it from A to Z,” said Alex Obertop, Capella’s general manager and the creator of the turnkey plan. “We wanted to make this over the top but comprehensive enough so that someone didn’t have to put their own imagination to work. We’ll do the work for them.”

Not enough for your sweetheart? Then “Proposal of the Century Package” at the Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif., could be the ticket.

This $100,000 plan includes private use of the Rose Bowl Stadium so you can pop the question out on the field in front of 40 friends. A performance by the 40-piece Pasadena Symphony Orchestra and a 2.5-carat diamond engagement ring worth $35,000 will help seal the deal. Back at the hotel, two nights in the presidential suite come with Champagne, 100 long-stemmed roses, meals and a host of other amenities.

If proposing on Valentine’s Day seems cliché, the package is available through the end of the year.


Courtesy Farnsworth Art Museum



Those with smaller budgets might consider taking their true love to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, for an exhibition of work by Robert Indiana, whose LOVE imagery has become iconic in American art (admission is $12).

Or stop by Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., to see the annual display of valentines from the collection of Esther Howland, the savvy businesswoman credited with inventing the commercial valentine industry in the United States in 1848 (admission is free).

And if you and your honey would rather stay close to home, you could instead let your Valentine’s Day card do the traveling.

For the price of a few first-class stamps, you can have a card remailed from Bliss, N.Y., or Hartsville, Tenn. And in Loveland, Colo., about 50 volunteers gather each year to hand-stamp and repost more than 160,000 valentines with a special Valentine’s Day cancellation.

“We get everything from handmade valentines to store-bought Hallmark cards, along with what we call ‘Chunky Monkeys,’ which are boxes filled with gifts and envelopes stuffed with letters,” said Mindy McCloughan, president and CEO of the Loveland Chamber of Commerce.

Loveland’s Valentine Remailing Program also sells its own official valentine each year.

For $9.75, volunteers will not only hand-stamp the card but write your love message inside.

(My story about high-flying Valentine’s Day packages first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior).


The fun way to fly: in your pajamas

Spotted these kids plane-spotting as their family was waiting for an evening flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Seattle on Christmas Day.

Definitely the fun way to fly: in your pajamas!


Traveling on Christmas?

Make way for elves….

Spokane Airport TSA

NORAD is tracking Santa. Are you?

Throughout the year NORAD , the North American Aerospace Defense Command, busies itself with monitoring the skies for airplanes, missiles, space launches and other things that fly in the skies.

But on Christmas, NORAD focuses on scanning the skies for Santa as he travels in his sleigh around the world. There’s even a Santa Tracker so we can follow along.

From years of tracking Santa, NORAD has learned a few things:

While it can’t predict when Santa will arrive at a certain house, NORAD does know that “he arrives only when children are asleep.”

NORAD also knows Santa’s preferred flying route:

“Santa usually starts at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and travels west. So, historically, Santa visits the South Pacific first, then New Zealand and Australia. After that, he shoots up to Japan, over to Asia, across to Africa, then onto Western Europe, Canada, the United States, Mexico and Central and South America. Keep in mind, Santa’s route can be affected by weather, so it’s really unpredictable. NORAD coordinates with Santa’s Elf Launch Staff to confirm his launch time, but from that point on, Santa calls the shots. We just track him!”

Holidays at the airport

Helsinki Airport Santa

Many travelers dread going to the airport this time of year for fear of encountering long lines at the security checkpoints, delayed or canceled flights due to bad weather and cranky fellow passengers taking their one flight of the year.

You may indeed have to put up with a bit of that, but you’ll also find that many airports go all out this time of year to offer entertainment and amusement for holiday travelers.

Here’s a sampling of what’s in store:

Photo-ops with Santa and Choirs in the Concourses

Santa Claus is scheduled to make regular visits this season at airports stretching from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Helsinki, Finland.

DTW KaraokeLots of airports present occasional music performances or concerts series year-round, but during the winter holidays it seems there are carolers and choirs in every concouprse.

Denver International Airport offers its live “Wintertainment” in the Jeppesen Terminal, with carolers and instrumental holiday music from December 14 to 24 and a world music festival from December 26 to 30 that features music of Latin America, Germany, Japan, England, the Middle East, the Caribbean and many others world regions.

Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) has a Holiday Concert Series underway through December 20 with choruses and jazz bands from area schools performing in the Landside Terminal.

Holiday karaoke is on tap at from 11 am until 7 pm on December 19th and 20th by the water feature in the center of the A Concourse at the McNamara Terminal at Detroit Metro Airport.

And, as is the holiday tradition at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, December’s Music in the Air schedule includes the Judy Lee Dancers (on December 20), a local tap dance troupe whose performers average age 60 and older.

Stress-free shopping, contests and free gifts

In addition to live entertainment every Thursday and Friday afternoon in December, the Food & Shops at LaGuardia Terminal B offer free 10-minute chair massages Fridays through Sunday this month, from noon to five. Shoppers can also take advantage of printed or mobile versions of a 20% off coupon.

Kate Spade SaturdayOver at John F. Kennedy International Airport, there’s Kate Spade Saturday holiday pop-up shop open through December 20 in JetBlue’s Terminal 5. Passengers can get the gifts purchased at the pop-up shop shipped for free; pick-up a complimentary “Make Time Fly” booklet filled with word games and puzzles; and enter a daily contest to win a Kate Spade Weekender Bag and a roundtrip adventure for two on any JetBlue route.

Travelers who spend as little as $50 on some last minute shopping right through December 24 at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport this holiday season will also be able to get their gifts wrapped and shipped for free.

Airlines getting into the holiday spirit as well

Beginning December 17, children flying on Lufthansa will be given teddy bears as presents and Cathay Pacific is gathering “Santa Selfies” – Instagram photos of people dressed up as Santa or posing with him – for a contest with a grand prize of two round-trip tickets from the U.S. to Hong Kong.

This story first appeared on the Runway Girl Network


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