Out There! Disney During Covid

AAA Travel Advisor Felicia Troy has just returned from Walt Disney World and wants to enlighten members as to what they should expect as they plan their next trip to Florida. From changes to menus, social distancing, mask requirements and more, Felicia will walk us through the NEW best practices for planning a Disney vacation.


Out There! One agents’ trip to the Painted Canyons of the West

Guest Written by Kelly Bohaker, AAA Travel Advisor in Massachusetts

While the world has been impacted by COVID-19, the travel industry has searched for ways to keep people’s wanderlust fed. Although I am a AAA Travel Advisor, I am a traveler first. Even I was wondering what destinations I could find to feed my need to travel. When AAA Member Choice Vacations® released the Painted Canyons of the West tour, I knew I had found my opportunity to explore.

This tour is a trek across the Southwest, the sienna-colored canyons, towering spires, and desert landscapes found in Utah’s five national parks. This vacation highlights classic American beauty.  I’d like to share my experience with all of you. Let me start with this wonderful video that captures my tour, experiences and the beauty of this American adventure.

https://youtu.be/LTIXOh1DSrk?t=1

PACKING

Packing for this tour was a fun challenge! The daytime high temperatures in both Colorado and Utah hover around 85-91 degrees but plan to wear layers as the mornings tend to be the high 40s. I chose to pack individual packing cubes, built to have everything I would need for each day in an organized and easy to access packet. Because of COVID, the availability of snacks and meals across airports has changed. I decided to have some prepackaged treats with me, in the event I was unable to find a bite to eat.

GETTING TO THE AIRPORT

Sedan Service, along with transfers, is included when booking flights with Member Choice Vacations. What a fantastic experience, and my driver William did not disappoint. I was greeted with a spotless vehicle, and William was in mask and gloves. He also gave me a courtesy call prior to arriving at my doorstep.

FLIGHT

I flew to Denver via Detroit on Delta Airlines. Ray Hourani had just taken a tour of Logan and shared his experiences with us so I knew what to expect. Delta has pledged to block all middle seats until the end of the year, and their boarding process was so smooth! We boarded from the rear, and social distancing was in full effect. What was so impressive was the deplaning at each airport as everyone was asked to stay seated until it was their row, again staying 6ft apart. Masks were always required and worn, keeping with best practice guidelines from the CDC. The aircraft looked like it just rolled off the assembly line. Flight attendants passed out pre-bagged snacks, waters, and sanitizers on each leg of the flight.

DENVER

I was greeted at the baggage claim area by our tour manager, Wendy. I was escorted outside to board a luxurious motor coach that would deliver us to the Sheraton in downtown Denver.  Glen, our driver, was so attentive and made sure the interior was wiped down daily with disinfecting wipes. My itinerary allowed for ample time to explore downtown Denver prior to meeting the rest of my group. It was a spectacular bonus. The hotel was located right on the 16th Street Mall which has a free shuttle running a mile along a pedestrian promenade showcasing restaurants, brewpubs, and stores that were open. During the evening, our group held a socially distanced meet up in the lobby. We were all introduced as Wendy set expectations for the upcoming tour. The theme for the week was to be “Spontaneous” and tasty appetizers were on display for us to choose from. As the first tour in the National Parks in Utah during COVID, having a tour manager was key. I knew Wendy would guide us if daily life as we planned would change. Wendy had alternative dining and tour options planned in the event we would need to adjust our trip.

THE TOUR BEGINS

After a good night's sleep, we headed out on our adventure. Our departure was at 9:00 AM, which was welcomed, as we sometimes hear clients make a 6:00 AM rendezvous. My luggage was picked up from my room, and a $15.00 allowance was given to us to order breakfast items from the restaurant located in the lobby.

Prior to our stop for a leisurely lunch in the picturesque pedestrian, Bavarian feel ski town Vail, we visited the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. Red Rock is a spectacular setting featuring an iconic entertainment venue where the Beetles played on August 26, 1964. Fun fact, they played in front of a crowd of 7,000 people, not even coming close to selling out the venue. Tickets to the show cost $6.60. COVID has deterred any concerts this summer, and the venue is now a place for outdoor exercise as yoga and climbing the theater stairs was the norm. I got my steps in on this stop for an hour!

Our last stop before the Doubletree Grand Junction was in Rifle for a 15-minute stretch and to use the bathrooms. We would take a rest-stop every 2 hours every day on the Tour. The Doubletree by Hilton had placed stickers on the door of our rooms indicating Hilton Clean Stay. Upon entering the I was greeted with a gift bag containing chocolates, water, and their famous cookies.

VARAISON VINEYARDS

All of us enjoyed this evening together. I felt this was the turning point for the trip, where I knew we were going to be the bonded trailblazers I envisioned when William and his black sedan had picked me up. We made our way to Varaison Vineyards, where our host Alex, greeted us at his family-owned winery. We settled in an open-air pavilion, where tables were socially distanced, and given a scientific demonstration to wine tasting. Once we had experienced the flavors of the vineyard, we were treated to a fantastic dinner served by the family. An experience that none of us had ever had and helped bond our group even stronger. Several wines were purchased prior to night's end.

COLORADO NATIONAL MONUMENT

The next morning, we continued on our tour. All our temperatures were checked throughout daily, prior to boarding the bus, adding another layer of. Keep in mind the bus had the capability to hold 52 passengers, but we were only a group of 16 travelers.

Colorado National Monument is a less frequented spot and was a perfect introduction to the red rock country that we would be exploring moving forward. Being outside would allow us to drop the masks as we witnessed breathtaking views. Masked and onboard, the scenic drive along the edge of the Mesa was peppered with uniquely shaped pillars of stone caused by millions of years of erosion from wind and weather.

We followed the Colorado River heading into Cisco, Utah with our final stop for two nights at the Stunning Red Cliff Lodge in Moab, Utah. Our rooms were all facing the Colorado River with a patio to step out on to relax with a bottle of wine that was waiting for us upon entering. We were treated to a cowboy dinner in an open-air setting overlooking the Colorado River. Masks were required inside the common areas, social distancing stickers on the floor, and sanitizer dispensers placed throughout the property.

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK AND DEAD HORSE POINT

Another fun fact, this is where the famous scene was shot for Thelma and Louise. While the movie focused on the strength of its two main characters, I was inspired by two women on my tour. These two lifelong friends, both in their eighties, hiked the Arches with no assisted canes or walking sticks. All of us had formed a bond now, sharing conversations surrounding safety while traveling during these unprecedented times.

We had the night to ourselves, each of us tending to our own dinner plans. We would need to be rested for our 8:00 AM departure.

GRAND STAIRCASE ESCALANTE

The next morning, we made our way to Capitol Reef National Park, a location created by tectonic uplift millions of years ago. It would be the spot for a picnic lunch and a treat, homemade pies from a historic orchard on the grounds. The Gifford Homestead sat just as it looked for centuries, as a rural Utah farm home from the early 1900s. By now our group was becoming a true travel bubble, with friendships starting and testimonials taking place. We all felt very safe and were enjoying each other’s company.

Heading through the valley climbing a 9600 pass as we head to the Grand Staircase Escalante, the nation’s newest monument. This was the most time we spent on the coach the entire tour, but the scenery was breathtaking and could not be appreciated if you were driving. Our day ended at the Best Western Plus, Ruby Inn just outside the entrance of Bryce Canyon.

ZION NATIONAL PARK

This was truly a magical moment for all of us. The entrance is a mile-long tunnel through which we had to be escorted. What a welcomed surprise. Along the path, there are windowed openings that give you a glimpse of Zion. It only helps to build the excitement. Our fantastic Tour Manager Wendy played the soundtrack to Jurassic Park, and I half expected a Pterodactyl to swoop down at any time!

Another bonus of being on a guided vacation is that all your reservations, tours and appointments are set for you. Our group hiked a leisurely 1-mile lower Emerald Pools route, and after lunch, I hiked along the west coast. I am proud of myself for completing these hikes, as we did have to wear masks as the paths were narrow with more crowds.

We spent all day hiking in Zion, and it is truly the only way to experience the magic. Our Tram driver Jan shared that her heart belongs to Zion, and reminded us to take a group picture.

Our evening ended with our last dinner as a group at the Switchback Grille reminiscing and reflecting on how fortunate we were to have experienced the National Parks together.

SALT LAKE CITY

We headed into the final leg of our tour with a 6:30 AM breakfast, a buffet in a private room that was self-service with sanitizer dispensers. Our first stop was Beaver Utah, home to Butch Cassidy. Stopping for lunch in Fairfield continuing into Salt Lake City with our last night at the Radisson Hotel in an excellent location across the street from Temple Square.

A city tour of downtown Salt Lake City brought us to the capital and a photo stop at Temple Square. We spent the day in the city, returning to the hotel to see that our bags had already been brought to our rooms. There was a nice display of desserts, and they were enjoyed with coffee, capping off a surreal week spent with travelers that will have a lasting memory.

COMING HOME

The following morning, I was part of the group departing on Delta. Timing is everything! We just so happened to be there as the new spacious state of the art Delta terminal had opened only a week earlier. We were greeted with social distancing kiosks that allowed check-ins, and even dispensed bag tags direct from the kiosk. Once we landed, I headed down the escalator where my driver Margaret was waiting for me. My adventure had come to an end.

REFLECTING ON THIS ADVENTURE

As I reflect on this trip through the eyes of a travel advisor, I keep asking myself ‘can we travel during COVID?’ This trip showed me that we can. Is there a risk? You bet! But the industry is responding. Member Choice Vacations hit it out of the ballpark by having protocols set in place. Form social distancing on the bus, the gallons of hand sanitizer, constant cleanings, mask use, and more, I felt as though everyone had my health in mind.

Traveling with a small group, a travel bubble, is one of the silver linings coming out of this. The coach holds 52 passengers and we were an intimate group of 16. Just think, in 2019 nearly 2.6 million people passed through the Arches. At times there were 15-20 tour buses making that trek. On my visit, we were the only bus. It’s just another reason to take in the National Parks with Member Choice Vacations.

I am glad to be going back out there, experiencing travel and bringing my findings back to AAA members. I’m not the only one. AAA Travel advisors all over the club are venturing out to see firsthand exactly what you can expect as you return to travel. As you start to make plans, contact an advisor for the inside scoop. Together, you and your advisor can build a vacation that is both safe and exciting. To speak with your advisor, call 1-800-222-7448 and tell them Kelly sent you!


Explorations from Home: Mexico and Punta Cana

Awe-inspiring resorts set on powdery sands on sprawling Mexican coastlines. Darling coastal villages, where fútbol is played by youngsters on the same streets Aztec, Incan, and Mayan warriors once strode. Or perhaps you long to feel the trade winds that breathe softly into the Dominican's lush rainforests and over mountain peaks. Palms rising majestically out of sparkling white beaches. Escape to a time and place a world away, with colonial architecture on romantic estates or resorts that provide modern luxury at its finest.

Travel Impressions and AAA Travel invite you to join us for a spotlight broadcast on what makes a vacation to Mexico and Punta Cana so special. Learn about all-inclusive resorts, the local beaches, culinary scenes and more. With the Hard Rock resorts offering up to 62% off their all-inclusive rates, now may be the best time to plan our next escape.

 


Getting Out There: Stepping into the Delta CareStandard

Guest written by Ray Hourani, Director, Travel Air Operations at AAA Travel Northeast.

Airlines have made major adjustments to their safety and sanitation protocols in response to COVID-19. Middle seats have been left empty on many flights, and masks have become the standard travel accessory. AAA Travel takes pride in our industry knowledge, and we try to experience everything our members come across as they choose to travel. Recently, I took a firsthand look at what members can expect when flying Delta.

I was a part of a small select group, greeted at the Delta terminal inside Logan Airport for an intimate look at the new processes and resources greeting travelers as they board a flight. This all-access permission was in part to AAA’s partnership with Delta. I was rewarded an insider’s view of the ways the airline has adjusted terminal and boarding procedures. My behind the scene tour, hosted by Charlie Schewe, Director of New England Sales at Delta Air Lines, included a terminal tour and an onboarding to observe new sanitation protocols.

From the time you step foot in the check-in lobby, through security, at the gate, onboard, and through the baggage claim at your final destination, the Delta CareStandard is how Delta is making sure you can feel confident in your choice to travel. From providing more space to extensive cleaning, Delta has put in place more than 100 measures to ensure a safe experience for our AAA members and travelers. I was able to experience these measures during my tour.

Along with all travelers now flying through Delta gates, I was greeted with a sanitation cart. There, I could find hand sanitizers, disposable masks, wipes and guides to help me prep for departure. Markings and signs throughout the terminal aid travelers in social distancing. Staff, masked and in some instances placed behind plexiglass barriers, greeted everyone in their always positive fashion, and while I was not able to see their smiles, their eyes showed happiness as passengers returned to air travel.

From my first steps into the airport, I could see the many layers of protection in place to give me peace of mind. There was a touchless check-in experience, and signs pointing to the Fly Delta app to access a digital boarding pass. It was reassuring to know that cleanliness was being applied to more than just the plane itself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMd3b2SQT8c&feature=youtu.be

Plexiglass shields had been installed at all Delta check-in counters, in Delta Sky Clubs, and at gate counters, and social distancing markers were visible in the check-in lobby, Delta Sky Club check-in, at the gate, on seats at the gate, and on jet bridges to encourage all of us on the tour to stand apart.

I was never more than a few feet away from a hand sanitizer station. They are available for use in check-in lobbies, at the gate, in Delta Sky Clubs and on all Delta-owned jet bridges. The Delta Sky Club had an offering of pre-packaged food, similar to onboard snacks and other pre-packaged options like yogurt, breakfast energy bars, salads, hummus and pita chips, and sandwiches.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6_GA8NIXcE&feature=youtu.be

 

Charlie distributed customer care kits, available at all Delta ticket counters and gates, that offer a hand sanitizer wipe, a mask and an informational card that details how they are transforming the industry standard of clean.

As we boarded our plane, I noticed subtle but important changes. First, Delta has adjusted the boarding process to encourage more space for safer travel, boarding all flights from back to front. I’ll point out that this reduces instances of customers needing to pass one another to reach their seats. This process limits boarding groups to 10 customers at a time to minimize contact with others.

I will also point out that through at least Jan. 6, 2021, Delta will ensure more space for customers on all aircraft by blocking the selection of middle seats and limiting the number of customers per flight to reduce the total number of customers on board. On routes where increased demand is putting customer counts close to the full limit, the airline will look for opportunities to upgrade to a larger aircraft or add more flights to the schedule.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bT2YSf-8Jg&feature=youtu.be

My tour group was able to see how each flight is thoroughly sanitized prior to boarding using electrostatic sprayers. Following this process, cleaning crews complete an extensive checklist of cleaning procedures using this same high-grade disinfectant to wipe down personal and common areas of the cabin. If an aircraft doesn’t pass a spot check before travelers board, the teams are encouraged to hold the flight and call back the cleaning crew.

Charlie taught us that air on all aircraft is completely recirculated 10 to 30 times per hour with fresh, outside air through industrial-grade HEPA filters, which extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses.

Delta is bringing a message of moral responsibility to their staff as well. During our tour, it was pointed out that the airline flight attendants wear masks while they fly, but also on their bus route to and from the airport. The attendants wear masks in hotel lobbies, and it has become a part of their uniform. Charlie Schewe shared with our tour group that Delta has put a big focus on wearing masks, as it is important to the success of all safety measures.

I’ve been in the travel industry for decades. I remember how multiple historic events have impacted our industry. With all that in mind, I believe the safety protocols that Delta has in place makes it very safe to fly. They are committed to making sure everyone wears a mask, are offering a limited contact check-in, and have placed HEPA air filters on board their planes. It is my belief that Delta has not only improved processes but that they continue to look for ways to enhance measures even further.

As you prepare to get out there, AAA is here to help. Our travel advisors are dedicated to understanding the safety measures needed to have a successful and healthy vacation. Many of our advisors are returning to travel themselves, boarding planes, or packing cars as they head out across the globe. Our network of advisors is dedicated to making every AAA Travel experience a great memory.  I encourage you to chat with a AAA Advisor before you venture out. Together you can review your travel plans, and ensure you’ve thought of everything. To speak with your advisor, call 1-800-222-7448. Tell them Ray sent you.


Explorations From Home: Aruba and the Bahamas

Join AAA Travel as we learn more about AAA members' two favorite destinations- Aruba and the Bahamas. Learn the need to know information about the islands, as you prepare for your next trip. Special Guests: include the Aruba Tourism Board and the Islands of the Bahamas, plus AAA Travel advisors will be in the session to answer any questions you have on exclusive member benefits and options while planning your warm-weather escape! This session is hosted on GoToWebinar, and attending is easy.


6 Questions to ask yourself when considering travel insurance

Not all travel insurance is created equal. Like all insurance, there are levels of protection. It is common to find an array of price points and you may feel overwhelmed as you examine the coverage levels on a line by line basis. AAA is here to help. A good place to start is asking yourself these simple questions.

Is my trip insurable?

Travel insurance is designed to cover what is NOT refundable by your travel providers and their policies. Some trips can’t be insured with traditional travel insurance, such as many business trips, inexpensive road trips, or trips taken with reward miles or points. The main thing you need to ask yourself is what would you lose in non-refundable deposits and payments if your trip is canceled. The immediate follow-up, once you know the value of your risk, is whether or not that exceeds the cost of your insurance policy, and whether you feel the need to protect that investment.

What do I need from a travel insurance plan?

Even if you do not have a huge financial risk, travel insurance may still be right for you. International healthcare coverage may be a concern. While you may already have medical coverage through your health insurance, you may find exemptions for international destinations. This is common with Medicare plans.It is important to understand the terms of your existing policies. For example, does your health care offer in-network resources at your destination? Do you have car rental coverage through your auto insurance policy? You also may have more traditional travel insurance-type coverage, such as lost luggage and medical evacuation, through the credit card you use to book the trip. Once you know what’s covered, you can determine any holes in liabilities, and find the best travel insurance plan to fill in those needs.

Should I use an agent?

Consulting with your AAA Travel advisor about your trip and the insurable interests you have is important. Together you can review your list and focus on the items needing coverage. Advisors will also act as your advocate when they can, helping you prepare a claim. AAA Members are not required to purchase travel insurance from AAA, and you have the capability to use a third party seller, or even buy direct from a travel provider. Remember, a good travel advisor will help you find the best travel insurance policy for you, regardless of the source.

How do I know the travel insurance company is fair?

Reviews. Plain and simple, you should look into the company's reviews. Start with a simple web search of the company, and then add in some keywords such as “claim” “delay” or  even“scam.” Read the reviews carefully. Combine your advisor's recommendations, user-generated reviews, and the company’s star ratings for a holistic view on what to expect from your policy in the event of an issue.

When is the right time to buy travel insurance?

You should buy your policy when you book or place a deposit on a trip. Most travel insurance policies require purchasing your policy within two weeks of your first trip payment or trip deposit. You will want to make the most of your investment in the insurance, and protect your costs from the very beginning. Starting your policy at the time of booking allows this. You should also consider playing for your insurance policy with a credit card. That way, if you ever have a problem with the policy, you can dispute the charges through your card company. That type of dispute is rare, but the whole concept of insurance is “just in case”, so why not add that layer of protection.

Does AAA have travel insurance?

AAA Travel partners with Allianz Travel to offer our Members travel insurance. You can learn more about Allianz Travel through AAA by visiting this dedicated webpage, where you can fill out our online form or you can always call AAA Travel at 1-800-222-7448.


Long weekend away! A necessary escape.

Guest written by Mike Rotondo, Managing Director of Travel Services.

With the changing of the seasons, now is the perfect time to step outdoors. Mild temperatures, fall foliage, and pumpkin spice everything makes it easy to escape for a long weekend. In that spirit, my wife and I spent some time away from home, spending a night at a hotel and a couple of days at the outlets to shop for her birthday gift.

After 23 years of marriage, we came to the realization that I am not a good shopper.  My wife on the other hand is an excellent shopper. She knows good deals and where to find them. A few years ago I decided to make the bold offer to take her to the outlets so she can pick out her own gifts. It started out as an all-day event with a promise from me not to complain at all.  Don’t tell her, but I actually enjoy spending the time with her and I do find some good deals for me as well. This year, and being a little stir crazy, we decided to take it up a notch to get out of the house for more than a day. We made it a weekend away.

The Tanger Outlets in Riverhead and Deer Park served as our destination. New York in the fall is beautiful, and we knew the ride out to the outlets would be wonderful. We took the quick start to our weekend, wasting no time and making it to the outlets on a Friday, which happened to be a holiday.

Friday’s holiday must-have impacted the number of shoppers, as it seemed fewer people were out and about. This was something we had expected. However, the outlets were prepared for any type of crowd, offering social distancing guidelines, sanitation stations, and extra cleaning crews. Tanger Outlets also offered AAA Members a free coupon book for the stores found in the complex. It must have been in the spirit of the holiday, as there is normally a $5 fee for the book. All I needed to do was simply stop by the guest services kiosk and show my AAA Membership card.

The only noticeable difference in this trip, compared to birthday adventures of the past, was that some stores did not have open dressing rooms. It wasn’t much of a hindrance, and we carried on.

Shops did require masks and had signs referencing social distancing at their entrance and throughout the store.  There were great deals to be had.  Most stores had signage marketing up to 70% off, some as high as 80% off.  My wife especially liked Coach, Vera Bradley, GAP, Eddie Bauer, Anne Taylor, Pandora, VANS, and Michael Kors.

Public restrooms were clean and provided for a touch-free experience for sinks and dryers. There were also no entrance doors, eliminating those “how do I handle this handle” experiences.

Not every vendor was open at the Food Court: A few of the stores were closed but staples like McDonald's, Annie Ann's pretzels, the Chinese restaurant, and gyros were available with both indoor and outdoor dining options.

After a day at the outlets, we were happy to relax at The Inn at Fox Hollow. This AAA Three Diamond Hotel is also a Best of Housekeeping award property.  AAA members receive a 25% discount. Our check-in process was easy. The hotel staff greeted us from behind plexiglass as we entered through the touchless hotel doors. While the outdoor seating area and pool was enjoyed by various guests, everyone was spaced appropriately.  The Inn’s staff was very friendly and accommodating, in fact, they brought us a plate of free cookies while we were in the lobby.

If you ever have the chance to stay at this hotel, it is worth knowing that there are two floors, and there is an elevator. Your hotel stay includes a buffet breakfast however due to COVID restrictions, our visit did not include a buffet.  Instead, the hotel offered a plated breakfast for pick up during the morning hours. Our dishes included waffles, eggs and bacon, a muffin of choosing, fruit and juice. You could eat outside, at a table, or in your room.

We opted for dinner at Rare650, a AAA Three Diamond restaurant. This place was fantastic! The restaurant offered a spectacular service and food selection. Rare650 is known for steaks and sushi, and we indulged in various cuts of steak and sides, all of which all were prepared perfectly.

We continued our shopping on Saturday, with a visit to the outlets at Tanger Deer Park. We found that shoppers were more abundant here due to it being a Saturday, yet everyone followed social distancing. The stores did limit the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time, and face masks were worn by everyone.  We were also excited to see the facility host a small outdoor farmers market of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The weekend was a welcomed break from the monotony of our COVID restricted normalcy. It was a chance to get out, bond as a family, and enjoy one another. My wife and I are well-traveled, and we know Europe, or our favorite islands, will be there when we are ready. For now, that peaceful weekend in a fantastic inn in New York was just what we needed.

As you plan your next escape, whether near or far, I encourage you to think AAA. We saved hundreds from our weekend by using the perks of our membership. Chat with your AAA Travel advisor and together you can plan your own getaway. Call your advisor at 1-800-222-7448, tell them Mike sent you.


New hotel "perks" during COVID era

Once upon a time, hotels wooed guests with luxurious offerings, such as free hot breakfasts and resort wifi. But now, various chains and boutique hotels are offering add-ons and incentives in response to COVID-19. Some hotels are going as far as healthcare access and on-demand doctors. Yes, properties are pledging best practices according to CDC and EPA guidelines such as frequent cleaning, air-filtration systems, contactless check-in, and decreased capacity, but some are really looking to please (and reassure).

At one Dominican Republic resort, visitors who show evidence of a negative COVID test have been assured a spot at an onsite hospital in the event their situation changes. The resort has arranged an entire floor to be reserved only for their hotel guests. For those staying over five days at Atlantis in Dubai, you can book free COVID testing in the comfort of your own suite.

Montage Hotels has formed a new partnership with One Medical, where guests can schedule virtual doctor's visits and consultations while on the property, and continue to do so for an entire month after their departure.

Even golf resorts, a sport that has gained popularity thanks to open spaces and social distance, are making adjustments. One Colorado Springs resort removed real-life caddies and golf carts, replacing them with Tempo Walk. These hands-free, autonomous caddies come complete with GPS yardage and the capacity to hold a cooler of untouched drinks.

And while temperature checks at the door are not uncommon, The Cape, in Los Cabos, Mexico, is utilizing a full-body sanitation station at their entrance. As visitors walk through the report doors that are treated with a spray of nonstaining mist from head to toe. The hotel also offers sanitizer stations, QR codes for menus around the property and a little package of masks and sanitizers in-room.

For one resort in Montana, they've moved away from shuttle vans and busses. No this is not a chance for socially distanced black car transfers. Instead, the hotel leaves a Lexus at the baggage claim curb, so that guests can drive themselves.

Closer to home, Ocean House in Rhode Island has dreamed up a "BarMobile" experience, where an expert mixologist pushes a "Ferrari-red" bar cart from room-to-room, mixing craft drinks -- with complimentary canapés -- for guests to enjoy solo. At Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod, guests can set up private dining experiences seaside, on the lawn, in their rooms. With so many AAA Northeast Members headed to the Finger Lakes, places like the Inns of Aurora in upstate New York have reacted. The Inns built a five-mile trail system where guests can also take private archery and fishing lessons led by their new resident "Outdoorsman." Not to be outdone, Nantucket's White Elephant is now advertising rates for stays in 30-day increments, allowing travelers to social distance in elegance.

One thing is certain, the hotels are reacting to a demand for travel. People are still longing to step away, to visit new places and explore opportunities. The industry is reacting to the new traveler sentiment, one that shows people will travel if the accommodations are clean, safe, and compliant.

As you begin to plan your next escape, a AAA Travel advisor can help you navigate the travel landscape. Together, you and your advisor can find the destination and accommodations that will feed your wanderlust while doing all they can to protect your health. To speak with your advisor, please call 1-800-222-7448.

 


Cooking with Oceania's Executive Chef

Throughout the pandemic, Oceania has been connecting with travelers through a series of videos that routinely get thousands of views on its Facebook page. Some of the most popular posts have been focused on cooking. Recently Chef Renald Macouin treated Travel Weekly's Jamie Biesiada to a private lesson. Macouin, corporate executive chef overseeing the culinary operation and special projects onboard Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, led Biesiada in a virtual cooking lesson from his home in Stirling, Scotland. Together they made a decadent chocolate mousse and pan-fried salmon with leek fondue and beurre blanc. Learn how YOU can make your own ship-worthy dishes by watching the recorded session.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E75R0WF63c&feature=emb_logo


Trick or treat? CDC's No Sail Order on cruising possibly set to end on Halloween

Halloween is a spooky holiday filled with candy, costumes and scares, filled with goblins and ghosts living and dead. However, in true 2020 style, the holiday acts as a "dead" line for the cruise industry. According to Axios, CDC director Robert Redfield was overruled when he pushed to extend the order on cruises next year, citing two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation Sept. 29 in the White House Situation Room.

Vice president Mike Pence reportedly oversaw the meeting in which the administration decided to extend the No Sail Order by one month. A task force member involved in the talks is quoted as saying that the administration hopes to see the cruise industry "demonstrate it has a plan to ensure 'ships can sail in a safe and responsible manner and that the companies assume the burden of dealing with any possible outbreaks.'

The extension through Oct. 31 would match CLIA's current voluntary suspension of cruises. Industry representatives are set to meet with the Trump administration on Friday for a review of their transformation and the dozens of ways that they will mitigate risk and ensure public health. The outcome of that meeting will help determine if the order needs to be extended beyond October 31st.

The Axios report says that public health officials have privately complained that the move is politically motivated because of the industry's economic significance in Florida, a key battleground state. White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgenstern rejected that, Axios said, saying the task force enables "the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country. It is not about politics. It is about saving lives."

AAA Travel is seeing members ready to return to cruise. While the cruise lines are suspended, their still selling inventory for 2021 and beyond. AAA Travel continues to see pricing and offers that at levels the industry has not seen in some time. While we all our stuck on shore for now, we know the ships will depart again soon. If you have questions about your travel plans, cruise of not, AAA Travel advisors are here to help.  With their new SmartDepart Certifications, advisors are constantly learning and processing industry changes that pertain to member travel. Let your advisor find the right travel destination with you, and offer you insight into what you need to know to have a safe and enjoyable vacation.

To speak with your AAA Travel advisor, please call 1-800-222-7448.