Brilliant times in Buffalo ... Awesome deals at Kaanapali Beach Hotel Hawaii
Before I get to a great deal for a terrific hotel in Maui, here's a great guest blog from Toronto Star travel guy and entertainment reporter Richard Ouzounian.
BUFFALO - I had a terrific time with my family in Nickel City this past weekend.
Hey, don't look at me like that. Buffalo is a great place to visit and The Star will be telling you all about it. The Star's Adrian Brijassi, who wrote a great piece about Buffalo in a recent blog on his own site, will be running a special "2 Days, 2 Nights" feature in Star Travel this Saturday and I'll be back later in the fall to provide a "Six Meals in Buffalo" story and a piece on the city's thriving cultural life. But here's some stuff that's best sampled right now during the last weeks of summer, which you can add on to Adrian's substantial list.
First, a big shout out to the Embassy Suites (200 Delaware Ave.; 866-299-2910; www.embassysuites.hilton.com). It''s brand new and right downtown and it offers a plethora of perks. You can book a room for as little as $156 Cdn. on-line and you also get a free hot breakfast, free cocktail hour every night and free wireless. Valet parking is only $10 a day. Very friendly staff as well. Toss in a pool and a 24-hour fitness centre and it's hard to beat.
Shakespeare in Delaware Park (716-856-4533; www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org) has been going since 1976 and it's having one of its best years ever. The setting, only 10 minutes drive from downtown, is superb, in a venue designed by Frederick Olmsted, the man behind Central Park, on a gently sloping hill where all of Buffalo brings folding chairs and picnics to enjoy the show.
I saw a sweetly romantic As You Like It, with a charming Rosalind (Morgan Chard), a dashing Orlando (Patrick Cameron) and a witty Celia (Anne Roaldi). The admission is free, the experience priceless.
One of the best architectural tours of a city I've ever had comes with The Whirlwind Tour from a company called Open-Air Autobus of Buffalo (716-854-3749; www.OpenAirBuffalo.org). On an intimate bus open to the sun and sky, you get a two hour tour of the city from real experts. Our guide was Paul McDonnell, the architect for the Buffalo School System, and he made the city's past and present come to vibrant life.
Tickets are $20 and well worth it. Meet at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Bidwell Parkway; 6 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Sundays.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center (1300 Elmwood Ave., 716-878-6011; www.BurchfieldPenney.org) is a brand new facility dedicated to local work and cutting-edge creations. Their current special exhibition (through Sept. 25) is by an Icelandic multi-media artist named Steina and her series of seven installations called "Involving People Into This Magic" is absolutely fascinating. Her work takes place involving multiple screens spread out against a giant canvas and the viewer sits and lets it all happen to them. We stayed for an hour; we could have stayed more. Excellent free tours included in the $10 admission. Check for times.
Frank Lloyd Wright has a substantial presence in Buffalo and Adrian will write about his stunning Darwin Martin House downtown, but I also had the most amazing afternoon at Graycliff Estate (6472 Old Lake Shore Rd.; 716-947-9217; www.GraycliffEstate.org). This was the summer home 20 minutes drive from downtown that Wright created for the Martins. But until 1997, it was almost forgotten, turned into a seminary and children's home by Eastern European priests.
Then, to prevent it from being destroyed and turned into condos, a group of concerned local citizens raised the money and undertook a massive restoration. Now, a decade later, it's been restored to most of its former glory. One of Wright's most striking works, you'll marvel not just at its relationship to Lake Erie, but at the way all of nature has been taken into consideration in its design. It's a unique experience: the dual triumph of architectural genius and local conservation efforts. A standard tour costs $15, but there are also special options including twilight tours, details available on the website. A great spot to visit.
Buffalo definitely has more than wings and malls to offer. Save this list and check out Adrian's article on Saturday.
A GREAT HOTEL DEAL IN BEAUTIFUL HAWAII
One of my favourite hotels, located on my favourite island on the planet, has a great sale on. The Ka'anapali Beach Hotel on Maui, which has a very strong Hawaiian presence and is smack dab in the middle of one of the world's great beaches, is offering rooms for as little as $143 U.S. this fall. A $159 room rate is available now until August 19, and there's a $143 rate valid Aug. 20 to Dec. 21.
In addition to low room rates, Ka’anapali Beach Hotel helps guests get the most out of their vacation by providing complimentary Hawaiian activities. The variety of classes gives guests an opportunity to play and learn more about the culture, meet travelers and become Ohana (family) at Maui’s Most Hawaiian Hotel. Highlights of the complimentary events include language classes, lei-making, hula and ukelele lessons (I had a great ukelele lesson there last year). In addition, kids five and younger eat free with a paying adult at hotel restaurants, and there's a complimentary welcome breakfast to explain the offerings of both the hotel and Maui as a whole. They have a free hula show and music performance every night and parting guests receive a farewell lei.
It's truly one of the great family hotels I've seen, and it's highly recommended.