MIKE WEIR SHIFTING BASES IN NIAGARA
Canada's best-known golfer, Ontario-born Mike Weir, is announcing his new winery developments in Niagara on Monday.
Weir's award-winning wines have been produced in the past by Creekside Estate, but Weir on Monday is expected to announce he's joining forces with Chateau des Charmes. At least, that's the buzz down Niagara way, where they're not so good at keeping secrets.
Weir's wines were part of the Creekside development, but he never had his own winery building. It's expected that that will be remedied in his new partnership, which would allow fans to drive down from Toronto and see an actual Mike Weir winery and likely see some of his pictures and golf memorabilia.
Weir also is opening a new winery in the Kelowna, British Columbia area soon and is in the early stages of designing his first golf course in the region (as reported first by this corner in the Star's sports pages back in June).
PLANET FOR SALE?
So, they discover a bunch of planets circling a star in the constellation Pegasus, and it's believed to be the first solid proof of another planetary system.
I thought it was pretty cool. A colleague at the Star with a quick wit immediately declared, "Wonder if Intrawest or Four Seasons will put in a claim."
Ooh, that's pretty good. Or maybe even the Maldives? It turns out the small group of islands in the Indian Ocean is worried that global warming will flood their islands and leave them without enough land, so they're looking at overflow, so to speak, real estate in India or Sri Lanka. We're surprised the Chinese haven't offered them Tibet. Now THAT'S a place that's pretty safe from rising tide waters.
KUDOS TO CANADA
National Geographic Traveler magazine's latest issue rates a whole bunch o' places in the world in terms of how they're holding up to development and such. One of the best-rated places for remaining relatively unspoiled "and likely to remain so" was Ontario's Rideau Canal Corridor, and that's good to know. Also in good shape, apparently, is the historic centre of Ghent in Belbium and Sydney Harbour in Australia.
Among the places with severe problems and among the worst-rated were Tombstone, Arizona and Deadwood, South Dakota, both former cowboy shoot-em-up joints. It's not been such a good year for ratings for a certain high-ranking cowboy from Texas, either, has it?
NOT A PRETTY PICTURE
Figures supplied by Smith Travel Research out of Tennessee show the U.S. hotel industry in had a really bad week. Occupancy for the period from Nov. 2 to Nov. 8 of this year was just 56.9 per cent; down from 66.4 per cent in the same week of 2007.
Luxury segments experienced a drop in revenue per available room of 23.3 per cent for the week, compared to 12.2 per cent for economy places.
Officials said the U.S. election had something to do with the occupancy levels.
Word also came down on Friday (Nov. 14) that the famous Atlantis resort in the Bahamas is laying off 800 workers - almost 10 per cent of its work force - due to reduced tourism.
Makes you wonder how long it'll be until folks in the tourism industry, which is vital to many nation's economic health, will be clamouring for the same relief as bankers and auto workers.
"RAIN RAIN" ... WHO CARES?
Sunquest is advertising what is calls RainCheck; "Canada's first and only rain guarantee for beach vacations." The company says that as of Nov. 15, customers can buy the protection which gives them the chance at another trip if their holiday is rained out. That doesn't mean a few sprinkles, of course. The caveat is there has to be more than a half-inch of rain in a 24-hour period, measured at the arrival airport (not your hotel room) for half the vaction period. Details are available from Sunquest at sunquest.ca or by calling your local travel professional. It costs $39.95 per person but kids 12 and under are free if staying in their parents' room, but the program's free for the first 10,000 folks who book (a clever way of getting business done in a tough economic time; you gotta give 'em credit for that).
By the way, the Sunquest folks also presented an interesting survey. They said that while 39 per cent of Canadians felt rain would ruin their vacation, only 32 per cent said losing their luggage would ruin their trip. 18-to-35-year-olds are quite concerned about precipiation, with 68 per cent saying rain would ruin their trip. Amongst those 55 and over, 60 per cent said rain would ruin things. And, most unusual of all, 78 per cent of those in Quebec said rain would ruin their vacation. But only 48 per cent of those in Alberta felt that way, and aren't they just so darned happy out there.