Wilderness Lodge Resort: Budget Travel for Families

Spring Break..I’m breathing a big sigh of anticipated sadness right here. I have been lucky enough to work in a profession where that term still means something exciting. I have also been blessed with a beautiful child to celebrate it with. He and I are certainly the dynamic duo of travel adventures.

Last April I surprised him with a trip to the Wilderness Lodge Resort in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. I had seen this particular resort on the Travel Channel way back in October or November. It was on a “World’s Biggest” edition, and this place was billed as the “biggest indoor water park in North America.” I booked it for Spring Break right then and it became his “big gift” for Christmas.

I expected big. I got big. The “Hurricane” water slide is the biggest water slide I have ever been on in my entire life. My son’s wide eyed expression on that first drop was worth the entire trip.

I expected to find lots of activities that the two of us could do together. The Wilderness Resort came through here too. There was 3D miniature golf, arcade games, pots to paint (had we been organized enough to do it), movies to watch, lots of restaurants to go to and more water activities than I could ever have anticipated.

There’s nothing like playing Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” on Guitar Hero with your 12 year old son…and reminding him (once again) that you are a bad-ass disguised as the woman that reads bedtime stories and insists on buying wheat instead of white bread.

What I didn’t expect to hold my attention were all the other families that were there having their own Spring Break adventure. My son and I were newbies to this place but I could see from all the gear and snack food loaded in that we were sharing space with pros. The resort charges by the room and the room can sleep six. There is also a microwave and a mini fridge in every room. For families of 5 or 6, this was a fantastic and economical way to spend time together.

I saw more dads in action than I had ever seen, and plenty of family bonding moments that I appreciated. I saw beautiful women with their beautiful kids, and was reminded again that the version of “hot young thing” that I am generally surrounded with on a college campus blossoms with age and experience and seems to radiate more noticeably from people that are genuinely happy.

While my son and I were walking toward one of the big slides I saw a very large shirtless and hairy man with his head back and his eyes closed as his 3 or 4 month old baby girl slept on his chest. I wish I was a photographer. It was a beautiful picture.

The Wilderness Lodge Resort is a fantastic place for families to enjoy their children while they are young. My son and I both loved it. It gave me a chance to “be” with my son and fully participate in his life. It also gave me a chance to find beauty where I hadn’t expected it.

We would absolutely visit this place again. Next time I’ll be packing my own snack supplies and will do a better job of planning out our time to ensure we get an even bigger bang for the buck.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Adventure Travel in South America – Ecotourism, Mountain Trekking, Surf Camps and Culture

Ecuador provides a brilliant backdrop of geography, culture and ecology for those travelers looking to get off the well trodden tourist path and explore a country still considered a virgin on the tourism front. Not yet mollified by the Cancun-esque pollution that accompanies exploited tourism destinations, this ecological wonder is considered a mega-diversity hot spot on the planet. If its culture you seek, you will have your hands full. From the coastal fisherwomen of the Mangroves, the indigenous tribes of the Amazon such as the Shuar and Huarani, to the ancient Quechua peoples of the Andes, Ecuador is comprised of a stunning diversity of cultures. All this wrapped up in a country the size of Colorado which makes it possible to explore the Amazon Jungle by morning and be sitting beachside by evening, passing through the breath taking volcano views as you head west over the Andes.

Not only is this a country rich in natural resources but it is never short on international distinction capturing the eye of environmental research and controversy alike. Ecuador seems to be at the epicenter of key global issues with international mitigators such as Amazon Watch (who is leading the fights against Chevron oil contamination in the Amazon) stepping in to do their part in global conservation, focusing on topics such as: mining in Andean bear country, deforestation, climate change phenomena of melting glaciers in the Andes, ecologically sensitive Andean paramo grasslands, the struggle of indigenous peoples, desertification, medicinal research in the Amazon, and key biologically sensitive niche habitats- home to many threatened and endangered species. The tourism draw to this country on the conservation/volunteer front is growing by leaps and bounds as many flock to be a part of these ever important issues and witness first hand the beauty and uniqueness of this yet unspoiled international travel destination.

Adventure sports enthusiasts are not far behind, eagerly venturing into Ecuador for the extreme mountaineering, climbing, kayaking and, of course, surfing! An ever present enticement as a mountaineering destination, the country’s Andean range serves as a hard earned training grounds for those who are able to top off the killer peak of the world’s highest active volcano, Cotopaxi, within the enchanting Cotopaxi National Park. Just a short hour and half drive from the capitol city of Quito means you can be strapping on your crampons and ice axe shortly after touching down on the tarmac. Other sought after peaks are Ilinizas North and South and the behemoth of Chimborazo topping out at 20,702 feet.

The Andean range is considered a head waters to the Amazon River. The holding grounds for this precious water is a unique ecological wonder known as the paramo. These are the equivalent of giant sponges covered in 10 foot tall grasses, which feed the hungry souls of kayakers seeking out the class 4 and 5 river running that Ecuador has to offer.

Climbers are never short on supply and easy access to back country rock. With a geologic history based in this land of volcanoes the stunning views of columnar jointing apparent in San Juan Canyon would make any hard core trad climber drop their rack on the spot. These classic traditional routes are juxtaposed by the developed sport climbing oasis of Sigsipamapa, again just a short 45 minutes outside of Quito.

Another big draw into Ecuador is the Andean culture- a photographer’s dream with their calliope of colored traditional garb. the Quechua people in their festive wear are sprinkled into the commons of Quito which makes for a colorful and nice surprise when touring the capitol city. One of the largest outdoor markets is located in the high mountains of Otavalo, which explodes on the weekends with booths and tables selling locally grown and made wares. Here you may find alpaca sweaters, paintings, carved masks and hand woven hammocks. The festivals are rock hard south america style which means you either put your game face on or stay home, these are usually a blow out for photographers, egg throwers and off the chart, strange traditions that are culturally confounding and sure to delight!

Recently featured on National Geographic’s No Reservations with Anthony Bordaine, the country’s cuisine is highlighted on the Travel Channel’s documentary which doesn’t skimp on the skewered guinea pigs roasted as a delicacy and readily available in the open markets or roadside restaurants. Ecuador receives 5 gold stars as a travel destination due to its easily accessible transportation. Local bus transportation can get you to the most remote areas of this tiny country in any given direction at any given time. Airports provide daily commuter flights between the major airports of Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca and Manta. This country is still considered to be at its inception on the tourism scene which means you reap the benefits along with a few down turns. However, booking a package tour, where all the kinks have been worked out of the logistics planning which translates into a timely schedule, no hassles and you don’t even have to speak Spanish fluently in a world where few locals speak English.

The benefits are exceedingly obvious when you the hit the coastal zone where you will NOT find: Resorts, high rise buildings and traffic congestion. What you WILL find is: an expressive flamboyant culture, caiparinas (the local cane sugar cocktail), friendly locals, great prices, excellent sea food including cebiche and encocados (made from a coconut sauce), empty beaches as far as the eye can see and a consistent beach break which is just dawning on the surf scene. Novices and moderate surfers alike are discovering the friendly breaks without rock, reef and plenty of space for everyone to ride some waves. Be sure to check out the Lonely Planet’s ever expanding section on Canoa, Ecuador.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

How to Make Travel Management Easy and Seamless?

Travel management is a specialized business function that balances employee needs with business goals. It ensures cost control and adherence to the travel policies.

The economic downturn enforces travel managers to take the front role within their organizations and make this process, an essential part of top management strategic planning. In cases where travel managers lack the expertise to do so, entrepreneurs seek help from outsourcing firms. Travel outsourcing firms save through negotiated discounts and serve as a valuable business center for customers, employees and entrepreneurs.

The process of travel within a corporate structure should be placed in proper context so that its value can be measured and appreciated. Thus, outsourced professionals put in their best efforts to standardize processes, cut travel costs, track savings and send performance reports to the clients.

Having years of experience in providing specialized airline ticketing and ancillary services for large and small enterprises, these service providers offers skilled resources and a range of travel services, to manage travel easily and hassle-free.

The proprietary technology enables total integration across all travel channels. Working seamlessly with third party methods and systems, travel entrepreneurs are empowered to gain business agility.

The service providers create seamless travel processes for clients through enterprise-wide travel solutions. These vendors deliver value at every step of travel, from ticketing to hotel booking, cancellations to rentals, customer data management to tour arrangements and so on. The range of outsourced services for corporate customers also includes passports and visas as well as meeting travel insurance and foreign exchange related requirements. These vendors apply industry-leading insights and technology to enable security, greater choice of services and savings. Outsourcing firms manage group travel requirements for business meetings, event related tours, conferences and exhibitions.

Over the years, service vendors have learned to listen to the varying needs of different customers operating in different market dynamics and economic environments. These service providers customize travel solutions as per the specific requirements of clients related to budget, location and type of accommodation and so on. Their approach ensures that the interests and business priorities of the corporate customers take center-stage in the operational process.

At the very beginning of building a new customer relationship, service providers help define and refine a corporate travel policy for the end-customers. This allows an organization to re-define their business rules for managing travel decisions and processes in an operational environment.

The single point of contact provided to each corporate allows the customer a single window for all travel arrangements and queries, thus, ensuring mutual understanding not with the processes, but also with the executives. This facilitates the executives in understanding their unstated needs for highly personalized service delivery.

Moreover, outsourced travel management services such as periodic analysis, trend and report management are undertaken by service providers to ensure easy decision-making and enhanced adherence to travel policies, thereby, optimizing travel costs further.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Travel Channel – The World at Your Fingertips Through Satellite TV

Travelling the world is something most everyone dreams about. Distant, far off exotic locations, tropical paradises, obscure villages in Borneo, fantastic glaciers in Patagonia, Norwegian fjords, Balinese beaches and South American pampas are just some of the alluring destinations that dazzle our minds. However, the economy being what it is, and the fact that travel has never really been that cheap, many of us are left standing idly by the sidelines. While the jetsetters rush off on their private planes equipped with HD screens the size of your kitchen window and private bars, we common folk must find some other ways to indulge in our wanderlust. Satellite TV is a great way to travel without going anywhere. You can get a taste of Tuscany or see the sights of Seville without having to spend a dollar or get on a plane. Simply tune up the satellite TV system and click on the Travel Channel, there the world is at your fingertips. Don’t miss out on these great programs.

Anthony Bourdain-No Reservations: This show, starring the one and only Anthony Bourdain, chef and traveler extraordinaire gives you a glimpse at not just foreign lands, but also at local cuisine. It’s a two in one treat really. Follow the unconventional chef as he heads off to the Azores or as he gets caught in the center of a Middle Eastern conflict. Don’t miss out.

Art Attack: So you love art, but just don’t have the cash to jet off and tour all the museums in the world-we’re not all highly paid sports stars or financiers after all; well, at least you can see your favorite works of art via satellite TV with Art Attack. The show takes you to some of the coolest art galleries around. Follow host Lee Sandstead as he explores iconic artworks and historical paintings and sculptures.

Bridget: Explore the world’s most beautiful beaches with one of the world’s prettiest faces-Bridget Marquardt, former play-bunny. Bridget has an infectious personality and there’s no experience that’s too intimidating for her. She’ll dive off a cliff and eat fried bugs. Catch all of this in splendid HD detail.

Forbes Luxe 11: This program takes you on tour of the most affluent escapes in the world. This is the stuff you dream about. Vicariously jet off to Scotland to enjoy a round of golf, join the high rollers in Sin City, or take a cruise around the French Riviera. It’s all there waiting for you.

Samantha Brown: Do you want to know about the best weekend getaways? Then join host Samantha Brown as she explores quaint, off the road locations around the US for the perfect weekend escape.

China: Here’s a show dedicated to the great country we call China. You will get inside glimpses into China’s high-rise cities and its most rural villages. The show will take you to all the best hotels, restaurants and shopping areas.

Mark and Olly-Living with the Machigenga: Two friends travel to the Peruvian Amazon to live with the Machigenga, a small and remote tribe that lives from the river.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Taking the Trip of Your Life With the Travel Channel on Satellite TV

In the last hour, you just summited the tallest peak in South America, celebrated Carnaval with millions of party goers in Rio de Janeiro, and strolled along some of the most pristine beaches in the world. All of this was accomplished in the comfort of your own home, without suffering from jet lag or having to get a painful malaria shot. How is this possible? With high definition television, the Travel Channel opens an entirely new world for global viewing pleasure. With a crystal clear picture, it feels as though you are actually in an exotic place, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations. Get close to your favorite animals, swim in the seven seas, and trek huge distances across deserts and mountains without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.

The Travel Channel has programs geared towards all ages, budgets, and a variety of interests. The goal of each show is to bring the viewer as close as possible to the culture of a distinct place. This is accomplished through food, music, or breathtaking scenery. Since half of the fun of travel is discovering and trying new foods, there are a plethora of shows devoted to finding great eats on your travel adventures. For those with a strong stomach, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman gives you an up close and personal approach to different “delicacies” throughout the world. Since sampling rare foods may not be up everyone’s alley, the Travel Channel also airs shows on where to pick out the best breakfast or cheap eats.

Although food is a crucial part of sampling another culture, the Travel Channel aired on satellite TV also gives an up close and personal look at some of the world’s best travel destinations. Watching the countdown of the most fabulous beaches worldwide will make anyone suffering in from the winter blues want to jump aboard an airplane or cruise ship and head south! If bronzing yourself on the beach all day long is not your thing, take a walk on the wild side with a safari through the Sahara Desert, or trek through the Alaskan wilderness with knowledgeable and insightful guides. While some of these programs highlight the most extravagant vacations imaginable, there are also programs geared for budget travelers and backpackers wanting to see the world without breaking the bank.

To travel is to experience and know all the different sectors of a culture and at the Travel Channel, they know how to cover their bases. Whether you want to witness extreme sports such as paragliding, basin jumping, or deep sea diving, or would rather watch a program about the best jazz bars in Manhattan, the Travel Channel has a program to suit your travel needs. Although travel can be geared towards a unique experience for the individual, programming also highlights some of the best travel for couples and romantic getaways for honeymooners. The next time you want to see the world from a whole new perspective, tune into the Travel Channel to witness the wonders of the world from the comfort of your own home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off