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Friday, March 18, 2011

GrandTravel - An Intriguing Twist on Multi-Generational Travel

Much has been said about the boom in multi-generational travel in recent years, but increasingly, grandparents are spending their leisure time, and their dollars, with the grandkids and leaving the parents at home. This intriguing twist on the trend, known in the industry as grandtravel, is becoming an important segment of the leisure travel market “simply because our population continues to age,” said Peter Yesawich, chairman and CEO of YPartnership, an Orlando, Fla.-based marketing research firm that tracks travel trends.

“Fully three out of 10 active leisure travelers are now grandparents, and one third of those took at least one vacation with their grandchildren during the past 12 months,” Yesawich said, adding, “…the number-one leisure activity of interest to adults over 55 years of age in this country is travel.”

But why leave out Mom and Dad? “The parents are busy paying off mortgages and cars, and they often don’t have the extra time or money,” said Helena Koenig, a Bethesda, Md.-based travel consultant and widely recognized pioneer in the concept of grandtravel. “It’s the grandparents who have the discretionary income and, for the most part, they are the ones paying.”

Just because the grandparents can afford a vacation with the kids doesn’t mean they aren’t interest in value. One time-honored way to save money, while traveling as a family, is to opt for condominium or all-suite accommodations. Guests usually get more bang for their buck in terms of square footage, and a kitchen helps defray the cost of meals.

“Families can put the money they save toward a fun activity, such as snorkeling or surfing, or even their next Hawaiian vacation,” said Teri Orton, vice president of condominium resort marketing for Outrigger Condominium Collection.

Even the most devoted grandparents may be a little rusty when it comes to hands-on parenting of teens and younger children. With that in mind, cruise lines consistently win kudos for keeping young passengers entertained and adults fully engaged with onboard activities and shore excursions.

Regardless of the nature of the rip, grandtravel is special because it is frequently born of the grandparents’ desire to share destinations that have personal significance for them. “They may pick Paris because it was where they honeymooned, or Ireland because that is where their family originated,” Koenig said. “Whatever the case, you can give grandchildren silverware, bank accounts, or pictures of relatives, but nothing matters as much as the time you give them when you take them somewhere special to you.”

For more information on family trips and ideas check out our monthly newsletter.

Contact: Austin-Lehman Adventures – http://www.austinlehman.com/, Azul Fives Hotel – www. karismahotels.com, Crystal Cruises – http://www.crystalcruises.com/, Offbeat Safaris – http://www.offbeatsafaris.com/, Outrigger Hotels & Resorts – http://www.outriggercondos.com/

by: Felicity Long, Family Getaways
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Friday, March 4, 2011

China - Best Selling Destination in Asia

Well, the world’s biggest nation must be doing things very right. For the fifth straight year, China is the Best Selling Destination in Asia in Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Awards. It now woos visitors with a full schedule of nonstop flights from a half-dozen U.S. gateways to Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and on the ground, hotels are bursting out all over.

Responding to both domestic and international demands, U.S. chains continue to rush into the China market, transforming urban areas and fueling the exploding travel market. Granted, for many years there have been trophy hotels – Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton in Shanghai, and Park Hyatt in Beijing. However, others continue the development of glitzy five-start properties on prime locations in gateway cities. More recently arrived are U.S. –based international chains such as aloft, Courtyard by Marriott, and Four Points by Sheraton, all attracting investors in second- and third-cities such as Tianjin in northeastern China and Hangzhou near the Yangtze River Delta. China hands point out that it is worth searching out some of those traditional gems among local accommodations, such as Han’s Royal Garden Hotels, occupying a series of five courtyards that have been painstakingly resorted into a luxury hotel in one of Beijing’s most charming neighborhoods.
The average stay for visitors from the U.S. is about 10-12 days. And for the American market, the big four attractions are Beijing and its cornucopia of imperial sights; Xian’s terracotta warriors; cosmopolitan Shanghai and its surrounding water towns, and the Yangtze River cruises whose highlights are the Three Gorges Dam, the small gorges of Daning River, and life along the mainstream itself. Xinhong Zhang, director of the China National Tourist Office in New York, recommends that, “Americans who love Yantze River cruising should consider leaving a couple of days at each end to explore Chongqing – your place for the Giant Panda Encounter, as well as a trip to the Buddhist grottoes at Dazu - and Wuhan – with an excursion to monasteries on the most sacred of Taoist mountains, Wudang.  
Looking ahead to repeat visitor interests, Zhang points out that the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest, feeds a region enjoying some of China’s most beautiful scenery and cultural treasures, particularly in the provinces of northern Sichuan, whose base for exploring is Chengdu, and northern Hunan, with Changsha as a base. Repeat travelers will also want to fly to Guilin in the southwest, transferring via a Li River cruise to the rural retreat of Yangshuo. Excursions from here by boat and bike feature stunning scenery to traditional villages and markets. Obviously in a country as large – geographically, historically, and culturally – as China, there can be a lifetime full of repeat journeys.
Travelers wanting to visit this Best Selling Destination should defiantly consider travelling by cruise on the Yangtze River.
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