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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for April 20

Latest News, Deals & Savings for April 20

This week: Gasoline prices should stay relatively low this summer, Red Lion Hotels says pets stay free, and Vail Resorts mandates helmets for employees and kids in ski schools

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Gasoline Expected to Stay Reasonably Priced This Summer.

Despite the sagging economy, motorists may want to take to the West's roadways this summer. The federal government's crystal ball is predicting gasoline prices will stay relatively low.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting regular-grade gasoline to average $2.23 a gallon during the April-through-September driving season. The monthly average is likely to peak at $2.30 a gallon. That's still a bargain compared to last summer, when gasoline cost an average of $3.81 a gallon and soared for a time past $4.

In recent weeks gas prices have edged higher from their lows in December. In early April gasoline average $2.05 a gallon. The EIA attributed the increases to slightly higher crude oil costs and refiners trying to recoup some profits.

The EIA report projects crude oil prices to average $53 a barrel this year, but to increase by about $10 a barrel in 2010.

Despite the drop in crude prices as well as cheaper gasoline, U.S. consumption of petroleum products, mainly gasoline and diesel, is forecast to decline for a second year in a row because of the economic downturn, the report said.

It said consumption declined by 6.1 percent last year, compared with 2007, in part because of the high cost of fuel in the first half of the year, and is expected to drop another 2.2 percent this year, or by 430,000 barrels a day. An expected economic upturn will increase demand in 2010 by 1.4 percent, the report said.

There should be plenty of gasoline available this summer. Refinery production is projected to increase by about 240,000 barrels a day compared with last summer. Total gasoline stocks as of April 1 were slightly less than last year at this time, but higher than the five-year average.

More ethanol will be blended with gasoline this year, as required by law. The EIA said an average of 670,000 barrels a day of ethanol to be blended, compared to 635,000 barrels a day last summer.

For more information, visit the Energy Information Administration's Web site at

Red Lion Hotels Says Pets Stay Free

Red Lion Hotels is offering an innovative stimulus program to make vacations more affordable for pets and their owners. Effective immediately, pets stay free at all Red Lion hotels and earn points in the company's loyalty program, the Red Lion R&R Club.

The program will be adding gift redemption options just for pets. In addition to earning Red Lion R&R Club points, every pet that stays at a Red Lion hotel through September 30, 2009, will be entered into a drawing to receive a year's worth of pet food for free. Just one more way Red Lion is ensuring that pets stay comfortable this summer, the company said.

"With gas prices low this summer and airfares higher due to capacity cuts, we anticipate more vacationers will be traveling by car, including those who want to bring their pets along," said George Schweitzer, SVP Hotel Operations, at Red Lion Hotels.

"While hotel room rates may be lower this summer, the pet fees charged by many other hotels can add up to more than the cost of the room. In these difficult times, this initiative makes vacations more affordable. And by earning points in Red Lion's R&R Club loyalty program both for the owner and the pet, vacationers can further stretch their travel dollars by redeeming points for travel awards or retail gift cards," added Schweitzer.

To qualify for the Pet Stay Free Program, the pet owner must be a member of the Red Lion R&R Club. Pet enrollment in the program is free and optional and allows the pet to earn bonus points for their stay. There is no upfront deposit but the pet owner is responsible for any damage caused to the room by their pet.

There are rules and conditions, such as pets must pose no threat to guests or hotel associates, must be on a leash at all times when in public areas, hallways or the outside grounds of the hotel, and are not permitted in dining areas, swimming pool areas, meeting/banquet rooms, fitness and business centers.

There are other conditions as well, and pet owners should review the rules and requirements.

For more details and information about pets staying at Red Lion Hotels visit
www.redlion.com/pets .

Vail Resorts Mandates Helmets for Employees, Kids in Ski Schools

Vail Resorts said beginning with the 2009-2010 winter season, it will require all employees to wear helmets when skiing or riding on the job at each of its five mountain resorts, and that all children, ages 12 and under, who participate in a group lesson through one of its ski and ride schools must wear a helmet.

Helmets will be provided to every employee next fall as part of their standard uniform for working on the mountain. This new initiative is part of Vail Resorts' overall commitment to skier and snowboarder safety programs.

"At Vail Resorts, the safety of our employees and guests is a top priority and we believe the time has come for us to take our commitment to safety to the next level. Our employees will set the example next year for all who enjoy skiing and riding our slopes," said John Garnsey, co-president of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Beaver Creek Resort.

The company also said it will require all children, ages 12 and under, who participate in a group lesson through one of its five resorts' ski and ride schools to wear a helmet.

Additionally, a helmet will become a required part of any child's (ages 12 and under) ski and snowboard rental package offered at all of Vail Resorts' retail and rental outlets, unless a parent or legal guardian signs a waiver to decline use of the equipment.

"We firmly believe when children are participating in our ski and ride school programs that we must provide them with the proper equipment that promotes enjoyment of the sport while also reducing the possibility of injury," said Blaise Carrig, co-president of Vail Resorts' Mountain Division and chief operating officer of Heavenly Mountain Resort.

"Even though we will now require children in our ski and ride schools to wear helmets and make them a mandatory part of every child's rental package, we strongly recommend the use of helmets for all of our guests, regardless of their age or ability level," he added.

The company's resorts include Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly.

The Vail Resorts company Web site is
www.vailresorts.com and consumer Web site is www.snow.com .