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Jan 20th
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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Feb. 9

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Feb. 9

This week: It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, Holland America offering 50 percent discounts on its Alaska CruiseTours, and Renovated Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa has anniversary savings for visitors

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Mardi Gras is Feb. 24 and That Means It's Time to Party

If it's February, it's time to party in New Orleans, and even a sour economy this year is no party-pooper for Mardi Gras fans.

Parades began Feb. 7, with a variety of extravagant floats and outrageously costumed characters tossing the popular green, purple and gold beads.

Most visitors, however, will start arriving Friday, Feb. 20, with hotels helping the party spirit by offering special Mardi Gras packages. The super parades of Endymion and Bacchus, scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday before Fat Tuesday, feature a combined total of 75 floats, 60 marching bands and over 250 units. Their 2,300 members toss more than 1.5 million cups, 2.5 million doubloons and 200,000 gross of the famous beads.

Part of the American experience since the early 1700s, Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is Feb. 24 this year. According to a study done by the University of New Orleans, the celebration generates an estimated $840 million annually. Figures from last year show that 750,000-850,000 people attended Mardi Gras. And none of the figures include the over one-million day-trippers or local spending.

Historically big on hospitality, New Orleans (also known as the Big Easy) has an abundance of events, activities and attractions to keep visitors busy during their stay in the city.

The epicenter of activity will be the world-famous French Quarter with Cajun eateries, period architecture, museums and boutiques. Special events include the Big Easy Blues Festival on Feb. 14 at the New Orleans Arena.

A full calendar of events throughout the area, along with information about hotels, restaurants, attractions and all-things-Mardi-Gras, is available at the MardiGrasDay web site at
www.mardigrasday.com and at the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau web site at www.neworleanscvb.com .

Holland America Offering Alaska CruiseTours Discounts

In recognition of Alaska's golden anniversary of statehood, Holland America Line is offering 50 percent off on many Alaska CruiseTour itineraries and stateroom upgrades from $50. Shipboard culinary events also are planned to further commemorate the state's anniversary.

"There has never been a better time to travel to Alaska," said Richard D. Meadows, CTC, executive vice president, marketing, sales and guest programs. "We are offering incredible values on cruise tours this year, and because of the historical significance of the 50th anniversary, guests in Alaska can take advantage of special fares and events."

Guests can travel on select Alaska CruiseTours for 50 percent off the original price with deposits reduced by 50 percent. When booking an inside stateroom, guests can upgrade to an outside stateroom from $50 and third and fourth guests in a stateroom are 50 percent off the regular cruise tour fare. In Vancouver B.C., travelers can add a deluxe downtown hotel room night onto their tour for as low as $50.

With 29 different itineraries varying in length from 10 to 20 days, Alaska CruiseTours include a scenic cruise of the Inside Passage and a land tour to a wide range of places throughout Alaska and the Yukon.

Tours go to major cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks, wilderness areas in the Yukon, Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, Alyeska, the Arctic and Homer. Rates now start at $949 per person, based on double occupancy. This particular rate is available on Alaska CruiseTour 11, a 12-day Discovery Cruise and Denali Adventure.

Holland America Line has been leading tours in Alaska for more than 60 years and has eight premium ships offering a total of 156 cruises and 29 Alaska CruiseTours ranging from 10 to 20 days in length. For more information about booking, contact a travel agent or call (877) 724-5425 or visit www.hollandamerica.com .

Renovated Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa Celebrates Anniversary

To celebrate its 30th anniversary and a recent $35 million makeover, Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, California is offering 30 percent savings on its award-winning golf, spa and dining.

Guests who book between now and Feb. 28, 2009, for any stay in 2009, will receive a 30 percent savings on all golf, spa and dining during their visit. The 30 percent savings is valid for overnight resort guests and activities must be booked at time of reservation. Reservations can be made at www.rancholaspalmas.com or by calling (800) 423-1195.

Opened in 1979, Rancho Las Palmas was the first Palm Springs-area desert resort to remain open year-round, and it established immediate appeal as a getaway of choice for celebrities and tourists looking for a luxury desert escape. It was described as the ultimate recreational resort with the best of everything.

The resort's new offerings include stylish new guest rooms, the signature bluEmber restaurant, the stylish R Bar lounge, and Splashtopia, an exciting water playground. The resort also features a 20,000-square-foot spa and Yamaguchi Salon, a 27-hole Ted Robinson-designed golf course, a 25-court Peter Burwash International tennis center, four pools, and 41,000 square feet of flexible meeting and event space.