Florida's 500th birthday touches down in T.O./Porter/WestJet news/Deal of day
It's tough to cover the entire Sunshine State in an hour. But they made a pretty good attempt at it.
Folks from Florida's tourism department put on a breakfast at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto today, serving up French toast and eggs and delicious orange juice (Florida variety, I presume). There were representatives from Miami, Naples, Sarasota, Orlando, Tampa, Amelia Island, Fort Lauderdale, The Space Coast, Fort Myers/Sanibel, The Palm Beaches and more, including some smaller, old-time places such as Flagler Beach (between Daytona and St. Augustine) and Crystal River, about 80 minutes north of Tampa.
It would take way too long to go over the details, but here a few tidbits/highlights to whet your Florida whistle:
- Ponce de Leon "discovered" Florida in April, 1513. There's a replica of one of his ships sailing the waters of the area he called "La Florida" right now.
- The $100 million Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition opens in late June at the Kennedy Space Center.
- Greater Fort Lauderdale gets 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and there's a new Barbie Dreamhouse Experience opening at Sawgrass MIlls shopping centre tomorrow (May 8).
- Miami (this is from their p.r. person) has a temptation for everyone, "no matter what your vice." They also have upcoming months focussed on deals for romance, golf (speaking of vice), restaurants and spas. On top of that, they're getting set to open a 30-acre museum park with a science museum and an art museum and a new Metro station.
- The Inn on Fifth in Naples has undergone a major renovation and now has club level suites with larger space and 24-hour concierge service, while the Omni Amelia Island (a great beach location) near Jacksonville just underwent an $85 million reno.
- Tampa has several new hotel options, including a new Aloft on the HIllsborough River and a Le Meridien inside the old federal courthouse. In Tampa's Hyde Park historic district, a 137-room boutique hotel called The Epicuream will open in Dec. 2013. It will devoted to "extraordinary culinary experiences" and is being developed in collaboration with Bern's Steak House. It also will be the first newly constructed property in the U.S. to join the Autograph Collection of Marriott International and will sport a rooftop lounge. Nice idea.
- In Naples, there's a Dolphin Explorer Cruise you can take with scientists who study dolphins; a fun and educational experience, I'd think. They also have a new children's museum and a kids' area in the Naples Botanical Garden.
- They call The Palm Coast and Flagler Beaches area "the quiet side of Florida," with a real, old-time feel. I've seen photos and I like the look of the place, but alas have never been. Noting her area is between Daytona's famous speedway and historic St. Augustine, a public relations woman called the coast "between The Fast and The Past."
- Sea World Orlando will soon open "the coldest attraction in Florida," a ride/exhibit called Antarctica; The Empire of the Penguins.
- Orlando is adding a giant Ferris Wheel that's a replica of The Eye in London.
- There are 90 public golf courses in Fort Myers, not to mention excellent beaches and bird-watching opportunities. I had no idea, but there's also an Amish/Mennonite area of town.
AIRLINE COMPETITION. ISN'T THAT A GOOD THING?
I had to laugh at the Globe's Report on Business this morning. They had a solid story on WestJet starting its new Encore service and Air Canada getting ready to launch its discount Rouge service. The story talked about how the increased competition might mean too much capacity or could mean big discounts. When the story turned from the front page of the section, there was a headline that said "fare wars are feared."
Maybe if you're an investor, they are. But if you're a consumer like you and me, the appropriate headline might be: "fare wars could be coming: LET'S PARTY!!!!"
Speaking of WestJet, it's fascinating to see the front page story in today's Star on how the federal government has said the airline can now operate with one flight attendant for every 50 passengers, rather than the previous standard of one for every 40. The move allegedly was made to put Canadian airlines in line with U.S. and international standards.
But a union official made a good point in today's Star.
“What does competitiveness with U.S. airlines have to do with the safety of these employees and the flying public,” asked Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents flight attendants at such airlines as Air Canada, Air Transat, Canjet and Sunwing.
An excellent point.
PORTER DEBATE CONTINUES
I think that was a pretty major victory for Porter on Tuesday, getting Toronto city council to sign off on studies (at Porter's expense) on how jets would impact the Island Airport. It sounds like the airline has made some concessions to opponents such as councillor Adam Vaughan, so we'll see where it goes. But I like their chances of getting final approval later this year; a move with wide implications for the tourism biz in Toronto and for travellers.
- 3-Night, 4-Day Escorted Chicago Bus Tour, with transportation from Toronto via Deluxe Motorcoach
- 3-nights' accommodation at the Quality Inn Schaumburg (or similar) with daily breakfast
- Includes guided sightseeing tours of Chicago and Oak Park – including a River Cruise on the Chicago River, visits to Lincoln Park Zoo & Gardens and Wrigley Field, shopping on the Magnificent Mile, and more!
- Guided tour that hits many of the city's most popular attractions
- Lots of leisure time to explore cultural nightlife opportunities
- Close proximity to Chicago's renowned food scene, with eclectic dishes from Italian, Polish, Southeast Asian and many other nationalities
- Valid for travel on June 14, 2013
- Pricing (Rates are per person, tax included):
Child: $289 (11 yrs and under sharing with two adults)
- Depart from any of the following pick-up locations:
5:30 am: Scarborough Town Centre (near YMCA)
230 Town Centre Court
6:30 am: Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre
Omega Tours Office
Unit 55-3175 Rutherford Road
7:15 am: Square One
151 city Centre Drive
South of Square One Mall
( in front of Tim Horton's)
8:15am: Real Canadian Superstore
361 South Service Rd
- Please arrive 30 minutes prior to pick-up time. All departure times are dependant on traffic.
- Complimentary parking available at Sarracini Travel located at Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre
- Includes complimentary parking at Sarracini Travel, located at Vaughan Mills departure location
- Valid passport is required. If you are born outside of Canada, you must have a valid passport along with a visitor's visa. We do not take responsibility for anyone who is denied entry into the United States.
- This offer is refundable until 5 PM EST on May 8, 2013. After that time, this offer is 100% non-refundable.