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Where the crowds are headed this fall

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If you want to avoid the crowds this fall and winter, you may want to steer away from New York, Italy and even Kenya. Those three spots — along with Mexico and the historic waterways of Europe — are apparently among the most popular destinations for Americans headed on a vacation during the next few months.

In general, travel by Americans is on an upswing, compared to the past few years, particularly for those travelling overseas, according to Tourism Economics, part of the economic research firm Oxford Economics. “The growth of travel in the U.S. is an economics story,” said Adam Sacks, the president of Tourism Economics. “The dollar is relatively strong, taxes are lower, and wages are increasing so consumer confidence is extremely high, and people have more disposable income to spend on travel.”

The Roman Forum with the nearby Colosseum in Rome. The recent openings of a few new luxury hotels in Rome has made the Italian capital an even more appealing destination for travelers this fall.
The Roman Forum with the nearby Colosseum in Rome. The recent openings of a few new luxury hotels in Rome has made the Italian capital an even more appealing destination for travelers this fall.  (SUSAN WRIGHT / The New York Times)

One sign that travel is up: Three large travel networks, American Express Travel, Signature Travel Network and Ensemble Travel Group, all report an increase in bookings for late 2018 and early 2019, compared to the same period last year. Ensemble, for example, which has more than $5 billion (U.S.) a year in leisure travel sales, is predicting a more than a 15 per cent jump during this period, according to its senior director, Suzanne Hall. And Signature, with around $8 billion annually in leisure sales, is up more than 10 per cent in bookings in 2018, compared to last year, and is projecting a 15 per cent increase in 2019.

Flight searches are up, too: The airfare prediction app Hopper saw a 32 per cent increase in searches for this fall and winter, compared with the same seasons last year.

Here are where many of those people are headed:

New York

This cultural and social hot spot continues to attract huge numbers of visitors. On Booking.com, the city was the top booked destination in the country by Americans looking to take a trip between September 15 and March 15, 2019. And according to the airfare comparison app Fareness, New York had the most airfare bookings from September 15 to March 15, compared with any other domestic destination.

New York is a draw for the many cultural attractions and Broadway shows that happen in the fall and winter. This year, some of the most highly anticipated ones include the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art, opening Nov. 11, and Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway production of To Kill a Mockingbird, in previews starting Nov. 1. (advance sales of the show are already strong). To get the best deal on your New York vacation, visit in January, when hotels in town have their lowest rates of the year. (Hotel Week NYC, which offers discounts on a range of properties around town, takes place Jan. 5-19.) In addition, the Pod, with four locations in the city, has a good deal in January and February: nightly rates are $79 and include one drink per person.

Italy

Already a top summer destination for many Americans, Italy is increasingly a popular place n the fall, when prices tend to be lower. Data from ForwardKeys, a research firm that analyzes 17 million flight bookings a day, shows that bookings to the country through the end of this year increased 23.8 per cent over last year, and Hopper saw a whopping 70 per cent increase in flight searches to Italy for this fall and winter, compared with last year.

Travel experts say that fall and wintertime vacationers to Italy tend to head to the Italian Alps for skiing, Milan for shopping trips and Rome for a culture fix. The Italian capital had a dearth of high-end hotels for several years, but the luxury set can now look forward to staying at the recently renovated Hotel Eden or The St. Regis Rome.

Mexico

According to Travelport, a travel technology company that analyzes booking data, Mexico had the most bookings from United States travellers from October through January. In October alone, that number totals almost 195,000 bookings, a 3.7 per cent rise, compared with last October.

On the popular Riviera Maya, the wellness focused resort Chable Maroma, the second location of the Chable brand (the first is in the Yucatán), just opened, and in the spring break destination Cabo San Lucas, the addition of several new and anticipated resorts including Chileno Bay Resort Residences and the Montage Los Cabos, is extending that area’s attraction beyond the beer pong crowd.

European River Cruises

River cruising isn’t only for the summer: thanks to a spate of new river cruise ships and new itineraries from lines like Crystal Cruises, AmaWaterways, Viking River Cruises and Uniworld, the pastime has taken off in Europe during the fall and winter, too. Ensemble, for one, reported a 20 per cent increase in sales of river cruises for the two seasons this year, compared with last year.

Crystal has 21 new Christmas markets and holidays voyages this year between its five riverboats. One example is the 10-day Rhine Christmas Markets, from Dec. 17 to 27, which starts in Amsterdam and includes stops in markets in Cologne and Koblenz, Germany, before ending in Basel, Switzerland. The trip will set you back around $6,100 a person — though all your alcoholic drinks, food and tips are included.

Kenya

Demand for Kenya vacations was tepid for several years because of the country’s political unrest and fears over Ebola. But with those concerns somewhat eased, it’s now a hot ticket destination for U.S. travellers. Travelport reported a 28.8 per cent increase for December 2018 bookings to Kenya, compared to 2017, and ForwardKeys reported a 27.2 per cent increase in bookings from mid-September through December. Andy Pesky, the senior vice president of leisure sales and marketing at Protravel said that his company has recorded around $8 million in winter bookings to Kenya, a 10 per cent jump from last year.

Experts said that a big reason for the increase is the October debut of the non-stop Kenya Airways flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Nairobi. “You’re saving more than five hours of travel time and don’t have to deal with a layover,” said Christine Alestra, the director of destination partnerships for Signature.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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