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Feb 25th
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Dec. 1

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Dec. 1

This week: Explore Barack Obama’s Hawaiian roots, Continental Airlines named best large domestic airline for premium class, see San Francisco’s holiday Sugar Castle, and Travelocity is having a holiday bonus sale

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Travelers Can Experience Barack Obama's Hawaii

Honolulu, just about as far west as you can get in America's West, is the birthplace and boyhood home of President-elect Barack Obama, and visitors to Hawaii can easily explore the sites and favorite places that shaped the next President.

The young Obama flourished in the Islands, where local values foster tolerance, compromise and mutual respect - and where diversity defines people rather than divides them.

The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau has created a special microsite at
www.GoHawaii.com/Obama that highlights some of the significant places tied to Obama's earlier days in Hawaii and where he vacationed in August 2008.

The social mores of the Aloha State and the experience of growing up in Hawaii's culture have had a deep and lasting influence on the President-elect. Fans of Hawaii's native son can visit more than two dozen Obama sites around Oahu including:

  • Kapiolani Hospital for Women and Children where America's next President was born on Aug. 4, 1961, to Barack Obama Sr. and Ann Dunham.
  • Punahou, the celebrated private school that Obama attended from fifth grade through high school graduation in 1979. Other notable Punahou graduates include America Online co-founder Steve Case and golf phenom Michelle Wie. Note: Punahou School is a private campus.
  • Lower Makiki to East Honolulu where Obama lived in six different residences and spent most of his youth living in an apartment near Punahou School with his grandparents Stanley and Madelyn "Toot" Dunham.
  • The Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream shop on South King Street was one of the first places Obama worked as a teenager.
  • Obama had his favorite places to hang out with family and friends, which included Puu Ualakaa State Park on Tantalus, Kapiolani Park at the edge of Waikiki, and Sandy Beach, a popular body-surfing spot in East Honolulu.
  • In August while vacationing with his family before the campaign to the general election, the Obama family enjoyed some R&R on Oahu, which included golfing at Olomana Golf Links and Luana Hills Country Club, spending time at Kailua Beach Park, visiting Nuuanu Pali Lookout, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, enjoying a traditional local-style plate lunch at Zippy's, touring the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, paying respects to Stanley Dunham who is buried at Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and much more.

Oahu activity providers are also responding to visitor interest in Obama. Guides of Oahu has recently launched an Obama tour (www.ObamaTourHawaii.com) and other operators are expected to follow.

Today, Obama credits his upbringing in the Islands as a major influence on his character and values, saying, "What's best in me, and what's best in my message, is consistent with the tradition of Hawaii."

For more information about Hawaii, the Islands of Aloha, visit

Continental's Premium Class Named Best

Continental Airlines has been named the Best Large Domestic Airline for Premium Class in Zagat's 2008 Airline Survey. In addition, Continental was named the Best Value for the Money (International) among all airlines.

Of the U.S. network airlines, Continental led in most categories, including Best Frequent Flier Programs and Best Airline Websites.

"Continental Airlines is honored to receive this award because it was determined by frequent fliers and travel professionals," said Jim Compton, Continental's executive vice president of marketing. "We are committed to continuing to bring the best value to our customers."

This year's Zagat survey included 17 domestic airlines and 68 airlines that fly internationally. Each surveyor took an average of 16.3 flights per year with 38 percent being leisure travel and 62 percent business travel.

Continental Airlines is the world's fifth largest airline. Continental, together with Continental Express and Continental Connection, has more than 2,500 daily departures throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia, serving 134 domestic and 131 international destinations.

Together with Continental Express, the airline carries approximately 69 million passengers per year. For more information, visit

San Francisco's Largest Holiday Sugar Castle

It has to be the largest holiday edible castle in the West, or at least San Francisco, and if you're in the City by the Bay between now and Jan. 2 it's worth a quick visit to the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel for a look.

Fashioned by the hotel's executive pastry chef, Jean-François Houdré, aka "King of the Castle," his signature 12-foot rotating holiday Sugar Castle was originally created in 2005 and keeps growing larger and more spectacular with each year.

Resembling a French chateau, Chef Houdre was inspired while traveling around the southwestern region of France. The 100 percent edible castle is made of pastillage (a combination of powdered sugar, egg whites and gelatin dough), gingerbread, sugar, molasses, flour and candy.

Weighing more than 1,200 pounds, this magical castle features more than 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms, illuminated windows, and is surrounded by a quaint village and a running train.

"The creation of the Sugar Castle is truly a labor of love," said Chef Houdré. "Each year, I begin working on it two months in advance, adding more special touches and details each time. This year's version promises to be the best yet!"

Opened more than a century ago on March 21, 1904, The Westin St. Francis is the only hotel located on San Francisco's famous Union Square. For reservations or information, call (800) 917-7458 or visit

Travelocity Offering Bonus Sale

Travelocity, a leading provider of consumer-direct travel services for the leisure and business traveler, is offering a holiday bonus sale where travelers can save $75 on three-night stays. Click on the banner below for more information.