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Home Travel Western Travel Buzz Latest News, Deals & Savings for Sept. 28

Latest News, Deals & Savings for Sept. 28

Amtrak is now providing daily passenger rail service to Washington’s Leavenworth, a four-season destination that looks like a Bavarian village, San Diego’s Handlery Hotel to temporarily close for $4 million renovation, and Houston welcomes Alaska Airlines as the newest carrier to operate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

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Passenger Train Service Returns to Leavenworth, Washington

Amtrak is now providing daily passenger rail service to Washington's City of Leavenworth, giving travelers an opportunity to visit a Bavarian-style village located in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains.
"We have been working for some time with our partners at Amtrak and BNSF Railway to make Icicle Station and the return of rail passenger service to our community a reality," said Rob Eaton, Leavenworth's mayor. "Our community has a long history with railroads and train service and we are truly thrilled to welcome Amtrak to Leavenworth and have the ability to offer passenger service to both our residents and visitors."

A four-season destination, Leavenworth welcomes more than 2 million visitors each year with its world-famous festivals, hospitality, and outdoor recreational opportunities. It's been about 40 years since the town had regular passenger train service.

"Amtrak is delighted to have a new station stop in Leavenworth that provides area residents rail transportation and Empire Builder passengers a unique travel destination," said Kurt Laird, Amtrak District Superintendent.

The city partnered with the Port of Chelan, Chelan County Commissioners, Washington State Senator Linda Evans Parlette, and U.S. Senator Patty Murray as they worked with Amtrak and BNSF representatives on the project.

Additionally, the local community, Projekt Bayern (a local service group), and the Chamber of Commerce were instrumental in supporting the $1.2 million Icicle Station, a project still underway. Eventually, it will have two track-side enclosed shelters and a station house, and with a style done to match the city's overall Bavarian theme.

Westbound Empire Builder trains will depart Seattle's King Street Station at 4:45 p.m. and reach Leavenworth at 8 p.m. Both eastbound and westbound Empire Builder trains will have daily stops in Leavenworth. Empire Builder trains provide service between Chicago, Illinois and Seattle, Washington.

Passengers can now make reservations and purchase tickets to travel to and from Leavenworth at the Icicle Station, at
www.Amtrak.com or by calling (800) USA-RAIL.

Handlery Hotel in San Diego Readies $4 Million Major Renovation

The Handlery Hotel and Resort in San Diego will temporarily close starting Nov. 23, 2009 for a $4 million renovation , and expects to reopen around mid-February 2010.

The improvements being made to the property will include a complete remodeling of all 217 guest rooms, public space and event space. The pool deck and spa will be resurfaced and the property will undergo complete landscape redesign as well as general improvements to some of the hotel's infrastructure.

The work is being done to bring the property to levels of comfort and guest service of that of a four-star hotel while maintaining its strong three-star rating.

"As a family owned and operated company, Handlery Hotels is excited to be embarking on this new phase in the San Diego property," said General Manager Peter Lassalette. "As we move into 2010 and the economy begins to improve, Handlery Hotel and Resort San Diego will be perfectly poised to compete in the hospitality landscape with a new look and the very best in customer service."

The Handlery Hotel and Resort in San Diego, built in 1954 by Harry Handlery, the company's founder, has since undergone a number of smaller scaled renovations, but nothing of this caliber since its opening, management said. With this large-scale project, Handlery Hotels looks not only to improve its product, but to invest in the future of both the brand and the employees.

Clients who have existing reservations during the closure will be properly accommodated. The Handlery Hotel and Resort will still be taking future reservations while they are temporarily closed.

For more information or to make reservations at the hotel, visit the Web site at
www.handlery.com or call the hotel at (800) 667-6567.

Alaska Airlines launches daily service between Seattle and Houston

The Houston Airport System on Sept. 23, 2009 welcomed Alaska Airlines as the newest carrier to operate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). A crowd of more than 100 persons applauded as the first customers stepped off Alaska Airlines' inaugural flight from Seattle.

"We are excited to bring a new airline to Houston and we realize that adding new flights during the current economy is a real blessing," said Houston Airport System interim director Eric Potts. "Alaska Airlines is the first domestic carrier that the Houston Airport System has added in several years. We hope this is a sign of an upward trend for the industry."

Potts presented Alaska Airlines officials with a proclamation from Houston Mayor Bill White to celebrate Sept. 23 as "Alaska Airlines Day" in the fourth largest city in the United States.

The new daily service will include two flights; Flight 730 departs Seattle at 9 a.m. (PT) and arrives in Houston at 3:20 p.m. (CT), while Flight 731 departs Houston at 4:30 p.m. (CT) and arrives in Seattle at 7:05 p.m. (PT)

Alaska Airlines operates the flights with Boeing 737-800 aircraft, accommodating 16 passengers in first class and 141 passengers in the main cabin. Flights offer Alaska's Northern Bites meals-for-purchase service, which allows coach passengers to buy a meal onboard. Inflight service includes Alaska Airlines' digEplayer, a personal entertainment system with movies, television shows and music.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport is the eighth largest airport in the United States and is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. Opened in 1969, Intercontinental has grown into a major global gateway with more than 40 million passengers annually. The airport is operated by the Houston Airport System - the fourth largest airport system in the U.S. and the sixth largest airport system in the world.

To learn more about Alaska Airlines introductory fares, go to