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Senior Travel Newsletter: nature, cruise, barging, volunteer vacations.
Senior travel newsletter: nature travel, educational, cultural, volunteer, cruise and barging vacations worldwide.
New stories, August 1, 2015 
TravelWatch: Senior Travel Newsletter.

What's on the Travel News Menu for YOU Today
Senior travel nature vacations, cruise and barging vacations, volunteer vacations worldwide & much more! Would you like to be notified of each bi-monthly issue as it is launched? Click here to add your email to our TravelWatch newsletter notification list. [See our Privacy Policy]

1. An increasing number of hotels and resorts around the world are recognizing traveler interest in spending at least a part of their vacation volunteering. We share some creative options.
2. A new educational dinosaur museum is opening in northwestern Alberta, next to one of the world's largest dinosaur bone beds. It is partnering with National Geographic to become the only museum in Canada to host hundreds of NG movie screenings a year in its theater.
3. We highlight the launch of a unique voluntourism cruise ship in the Spring of 2016, sailing Caribbean waters to the Dominican Republic and Cuba while offering up to 710-guests per cruise an educational and cultural exchange by lending a helping hand.
4. Coffee lovers and heritage fans will want to book time in November 2015 to attend the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is Hawaii's oldest food festival, celebrating 45 years of tasty learning over ten fun-filled days.
5. Candy Harrington has done it again! This veteran accessible travel expert has unveiled a new book to make finding accessible US accommodation for wheelchair users and slow walkers easier than ever before.

Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.

Resorts and Hotels Foster Voluntourism During Guest Stays
With a record number of travelers choosing to spend at least part of their vacation lending a helping hand, voluntourism has clearly gone mainstream. Booking.com, www.booking.com, a world leader in booking accommodations online, has been tracking this trend, identifying that more hotels and resorts are starting to incorporate philanthropic opportunities into their guest activity programs. With over 695,000 properties in 216 counties, Booking.com has picked out a few of the best properties to sample voluntourism while on vacation.
Volunteering in Paradise: The Grand Hyatt Kauai
For travelers interested in more than just another vacation, this is the perfect accommodation. The beautiful and lavish Grand Hyatt Kauai, situated on one of the world's most isolated island groups, offers its guests a unique opportunity to give back to the community by participating in the Enrich Program. With five local organizations to choose from, visitors can volunteer their time with animals at the Kua'i Humane Society, contribute to the survival of plants at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, help in forest restoration in Kokee State Park, protect the ocean at Surfrider Foundation or help those less fortunate at Habitat for Humanity.
Grand Hyatt Kauai resort.
Grand Hyatt Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.
Offering a Safe Refuge: Magdas Hotel, Vienna
This European property is like no other. Guests staying at the Magdas Hotel will likely hear emotional first-hand accounts of individuals being forced to abandon their home due to violence, hunger, persecution or other reasons outside of their control. Besides welcoming travelers, this property accommodates refugees and those seeking asylum. Split into two sections, one operates like a regular hotel while the other is reserved for up to twenty-five refugees. Besides housing, this socially-conscious property offers these displaced individuals jobs at the hotel which include working the reception, house-keeping, bartending or at the hotel's restaurant. By booking a stay at Magdas, you directly support the refugee program that gives them a place to live and work. You'll leave having made a difference in someone's life and walk away with a greater appreciation for what you have.
Magdas Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
Magdas Hotel in Vienna, Austria.
Saving the Turtles: Grand Velas Riviera Maya - All Inclusive, Caribbean Coast of Mexico
One of Mexico's most eco-conscious luxury properties is set on 205 acres of pristine jungle and white sandy beach. Grand Velas Riviera Maya offers packages that focus on environmental preservation where guests may participate in reforestation, planting and irrigation of seeds around primary schools, maintenance and updates to an important city park, and working with Mexico's Federal Sea Turtle Conservation Program to help increase the survival of rare and endangered sea turtles and hatchlings.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Caribbean resort, Mexico.
Grand Velas Riviera Maya, Mexico.
Being One with Nature: Limelight Hotel, Aspen, Colorado, USA
Get your hands dirty and help the environment. The Limelight Hotel has aligned with the Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, to give guests an opportunity to learn about and support the alpine environment. Spanning millions of acres, there's plenty to do in the White River National Forest. From trail maintenance and construction, to removing invasive species, you'll be part of a crucial community that works tireless to preserve this beautiful and scenic green space. As an added bonus, the Limelight Hotel provides volunteers with transportation and a packed lunch for the day. Upon returning, guests are also treated to a complimentary beer as a thank you for volunteering their time.
Limelight Lodge, Aspen, Colorado.
Limelight Hotel, Aspen, Colorado, U.S.A.
Have you discovered a hotel or resort where voluntourism options are appearing on the activity menu? We would love to hear about it: editor@travelwithachallenge.com.
Images courtesy of Booking.com.
Alberta's Newest Dinosaur Museum Opens with
National Geographic Theater Partnership
Anyone who avidly follows all things related to dinosaurs will be delighted to learn that the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, www.dinomuseum.ca, will soon be opening in the heart of Alberta's northwest Peace Country. Where, you say? You will not be alone in asking that question even if I add that it is located in Wembley 19 kilometers or 12 miles from Grand Prairie.
An exhibit of Gorgosaurus, a smaller relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex of Jurassic Park fame, is featured at the new museum.
 Candice Popik
Maybe your next question will be why is it in such a seemingly remote location? Read the last paragraph of this story to see how unremote it is for anyone with a set of tires and a steering wheel. However, the longer answer is because there are thousands of bones, roughly 200 fossils per sq metre, concentrated in an area as large as several football fields. It seems this bone bed was a mass grave where hundreds of diverse dinosaurs died, creating one of the densest paleo-heritage sites in the world.
Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum building, Alberta.
The 41,000 sq. foot museum is a world class facility in the heart of Alberta's Peace Country. Candice Popik
Pipestone Creek dinosaur excavation site near Grand Prairie, Alberta.
Thousands of bones, including three dinosaur skulls, have been extracted from the Pipestone Creek site near Grand Prairie. Sean Trostem
This world-class educational museum designed for all ages is already on the checklist of unique attractions, featuring extensive gallery spaces, two classrooms, a 70-seat theater, research and collections areas, a restaurant, a gift shop, an outdoor discovery fossil walk and many tourist services. Indeed, it has attracted the attention of National Geographic, becoming the only museum in Canada to sign a partnership for their theater with this prestigious organization. In addition to hosting over 600 screenings a year, the partnership will enable the museum to implement National Geographic programs and resources at a local level. Visitors will truly understand the life and times of dinosaurs from field to finish.
"We are excited to have the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum on board as a National Geographic partner theater," says Mark Katz, President of Distribution for National Geographic Studios based in New York. "In addition to helping us bring more of our engaging 2D and 3D films to a larger audience, their immersive educational approach helps us further our mission of inspiring people to care about the planet."

The Museum is expecting no shortage of avid paleo fans. It sits on Highway 43, the heavily-traveled tourist route to Alaska averaging 10,000 vehicles a day, many of which are Recreation Vehicle (RV) travelers especially in the summer and fall months. Apparently, this brand new educational attraction is not as remote as it seems!
Building a Dinosaur exhibit at the new Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum, Alberta. Installation of exhibits is nearing completion in time for the museum's official opening in September 2015. Rowena McGowan
Large Ship Cruise Brand Taps Meaningful Travel Market in a Big Way!
In the past few years, some large ship cruise companies have begun including educational and cultural appreciation programming within their traditional cruise itineraries. We are always pleased to recognize them for doing so. Now Carnival Corporation, which carries nearly 11 million passengers a year to ports around the world, has taken a giant step into the 'social impact travel' market by creating a new brand called Fathom™, www.fathom.org. Fathom will operate as a standalone brand - the 10th in the Carnival Corporation family.
MV Adonia is a small cruise ship dedicated to providing volunteer vacations in the Caribbean region.
MV Adonia is a 710-passenger ship, formerly in the P&O Cruises fleet, now dedicated to Fathom programs..
Beginning in April 2016, there will be a dedicated ship contributed by Fathom's sister brand, P&O Cruises (UK), leading week-long cultural and volunteer experience programs to the Puerta Plata region of Dominican Republic, and shortly thereafter in May 2016, to Cuba as well. Fathom is licensed to include Americans in their voyages to Cuba. Geographically-inspired menus and music will also be featured.
Volunteer activity training session aboard Fathom cruise ship. Fathom is designed for travelers with a yearning to explore new dimensions of themselves by connecting more purposefully with the lives and stories of others, and a desire to make a contribution that lasts. Sample activities may include work at a local women's artisan chocolate cooperative; assistance in Dominican Republic classrooms teaching English skills and crafting water filters for community families. There will also be a focus on building a like-minded community with fellow travelers aboard the ship in preparation for the in-country experience.
Impact Activity Training is offered while sailing to the Dominican Republic or Cuba.
The 710-passenger MV Adonia is the smallest vessel in the P&O fleet, something of a classic jewel in design with the comforts of a traditional cruise ship. As the Adonia sails from the Port of Miami, there are two days at sea with focused activities to orient guests to the country's beauty and customs. On-board workshops help guests prepare for their impact experience, learning how to apply individual skills and talents in the most effective way. For example, you could learn about water shortages in developing countries and put yourself in the role of an aid worker trying to improve access to clean water. This kind of on-board training will enable guests to hit the ground running.
Volunteers making water filters in Dominican Republic.
Volunteers planting cacao plants in Dominican Republic.
Two volunteer projects in the Dominican Republic offer guests insights into cacao plantation cultivation and water filter production to create safe drinking water.
There will be four pricing levels based on cabin configuration and location. For example, the April 2016 cruise to the Dominican Republic starts at US$1540. Additional recreational activities, cabin upgrades, and special dining and beverage packages will be priced separately. Travelers may begin tailoring their trip in fall 2015.
Library room aboard Adonia cruise ship.
The Adonia library is a classic space reminiscent of the grand ssailing days of globe-spanning ocean liners.
The Fathom team will be led by social entrepreneur Tara Russell, founder and chairman of Create Common Good, a food production social enterprise. Russell will serve as president of fathom and as global impact lead for Carnival Corporation. From late 2013, Russell established and led the team that has been working on preparing fathom for launch in 2016.
Images courtesy of Fathom™.
Hawaii's Oldest Food Festival Celebrates 45 Years
Attend the Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
Poster for 2015 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival.
Acclaimed artist and Kona resident,
Jing Jing Tsong, created the official art piece for the 2015 Festival
On the beautiful and diverse Big Island of Hawaii, the 2015 Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, http://konacoffeefest.com, features 10 days of fan favorites and dynamic new events between November 6 and 15. The Festival promotes and perpetuates the culture, heritage, artistry and rich history behind Kona's nearly 200-year-old world-famous brew.

Festival organizers have announced this year's lineup of great events bringing a wonderful opportunity for visitors and residents to participate side-by-side as the story of Kona coffee's harvest comes to life. The return of the crowd favorite Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Lantern Parade winding through Historic Kailua Village features a glowing procession of light, music and color. It culminates with a floating lantern celebration at Kamakahonu Bay.
Kona Coffee Cupping judges at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival 2015.
Left: An internationally- recognized panel of cupping judges will sniff, slurp and taste their way through this year's Kona Coffee Cupping entries looking to crown two Kona coffee farms that reflect the perfect "Kona characteristic."
Brad Ballesteros

Right: Farm tours recount the nearly 200 years of the Kona coffee way of life. Current Events/Kona Coffee Cultural Festival
Coffee farm tours for visitors during the Kona Coffee Cupping judges at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival 2015.
Guests to the Kona Coffee Cupping judges at the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival 2015 are invited to try their hand at picking coffee beans. Among the 40-plus Kona Coffee Cultural Festival events are:

The Holualoa Village Coffee & Art Stroll, UCC Ueshima Coffee Co., Ltd.

Miss Kona Coffee Scholarship pageant (a qualifying Miss Hawaii event)

Family fun at the Kona Coffee Picking Experience & Coffee Games

And the delicious KTA Super Stores Kona Coffee Recipe Contest.
Guests are invited to try their hand at picking Kona's world-famous coffee cherry at the Kona Coffee Experience on November 8. Brad Ballesteros
To learn why you should definitely visit Hawaii's Big Island and discover all that there is to see and do there, check out our heavily-browsed editorial collection of Alternative Hawaii web pages.
Finding Accessible Travel in the United States Just Got Easier
Penned by veteran accessible travel expert Candy B. Harrington, a new accessible lodging guidebook is the result of nearly two decades of in-depth research, meticulous site inspections and copious reader feedback. Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers includes accurate access descriptions and detailed photographs of over 90 properties across the US. From B&Bs, guest ranches and lakeside cottages, to boutique hotels, rustic cabins and deluxe yurts, variety is the key word in content. And although access varies from property to property, each one possesses a unique attribute – be it the location, the owner, the room, or maybe even the entire lodging concept. This handy resource also serves as an idea book for travelers looking for something that's a cut above a cookie-cutter chain hotel.
Book cover photo for Resting Easy in the US: Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers by Candy Harrington.
Resting Easy in the US; Unique Lodging Options for Wheelers and Slow Walkers ($15.95, 395 pages, 6 X 9 paperback, ISBN 978-0692430576) is available at www.RestingEZ.com.
Each Chapter includes:
A detailed description of the access features of the property, including often overlooked access details such as bed height and toilet grab bar placement.
Numerous photographs of each property, including detailed bathroom shots.
Measurements25-space of showers, pathways and doorways that are outside of the standard ADA accessibility guidelines.
Green-dotCandy's25-space take about what makes the property unique.
Green-dotA25-space detailed evaluation of who the property will and won't work for access-wise.
Green-dotA25-space description of the personality of the property, along with an evaluation of what kind of travelers will and won't like it.
Green-dotAccessible sites, 25-spaceattractions and trails located near the property.
Green-dotComplete25-space contact information, including address, telephone and website.
Green-dotGPS25-space Coordinates.
Green-dotFinally,25-space as with all Candy's work, she doesn't just say something is or isn't accessible — she describes the access so readers can determine for themselves if it will work for them.
A must-have resource for all travelers, Resting Easy in the US helps folks think outside the box when it comes to their lodging choices. It's a good guidebook for seniors, parents with stroller-aged children, Baby Boomers, folks who just like to take things a little slower, and anybody who uses a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter.

This senior travel newsletter is part of the path-breaking Travel with a Challenge website, a travel magazine hosting timely articles and advice about educational adventure travel, and unique destinations for planning stimulating journeys worldwide. Explore the website via the navigation menu below. See our Privacy Policy.
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