Snowbirds discovering fun and sun in Arizona

More Canadians are taking a winter jaunt to Arizona than ever before, whether for superb golf or just to soak up the sun. In 1996 alone, 327,200 Canadians visited the state, an increase of 35 per cent over ’95. We’re spending more, too — $238 US million last year, an increase of 51 per cent from 1995. And the figures will likely rise this winter as Air Canada launches daily non-stop flights from Toronto to Phoenix. For further information on Arizona, call toll-free 1-888-520-3444.

More flights to the sun
Air Transat Holidays has expanded its Florida program this winter with increased services to Clearwater, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, plus new flights to Sarasota and Fort Myers. All in all, Air transat will have 30 flights a week to Florida during the winter months. In addition, Air Transat has added a condo program with stays of one to six weeks. The company’s winter brochure is available from travel agents across the country.

San Antonio turns on
Planning on being in Texas between late November and early January? Drop by San Antonio for a magical Christmas visit. There will be tens of tusands of multi-hued lights dancing off the San Antonio River, decorated floats that really do float, Christmas tamales fashioned with crunchy nuts and sweet fillings and traditional Posada songs. A highlight of the Christmas celebrations will be the tree lighting at the famed Alamo on Nov. 28. For further information on what’s happening in San Antonio, call toll-free 1-800-447-3372.

Lot of rooms to fill
Just about anywhere in the world you travel, there are hotels flying the Best Western flag — the world’s largest hotel chain. The statistics on Best Western are awesome: 3,700 properties with 295,305 rooms in 73 countries.

People behind the cars
A $13 million Automotive Hall of Fame recently opened in Dearborn, Michigan, just steps away from the Henry Ford Museum and fascinating Greenfield Village. The 25,000-square foot Hall of Fame features only six automobiles as its focus is on the people, not the machines, who created the auto industry and how they changed the world. For further information, write to the Hall of Fame at Four Parklane Blvd., Suite 464, Dearborn, Mich., USA 48126, phone (313) 240-4000.

Sunquest the choice
Sunquest Vacations has been awarded the prestigious 1997 Consumers’ Choice Award as Best Travel Wholesaler, based on an independent survey by Goldfarb Consultants.”We’re extremely proud of this award, particularly as we celebrate our 25th anniversary this winter,” says Sunquest Executive Vice-President Ron Harding. “This is considered a seal of excellence — even more rewarding since it comes from the consumers who, after all, are the only judges who really count.”

Excellent travel book
One of the most comprehensive and entertaining travel books on the market is Unbelievably Good Deals and Great Adventures That You Can’t Get Unless You’re Over 50. While it’s title is a bit of a mouthful, this book by Joan Rattner Heilman has gone through nine editions and sold more than 600,000 copies. It’s full of practical information for mature travellers. Although an American writer, Joan has included many helpful tips for Canadians. The book is available in Canada for $14.95 from most book stores.

An angler’s dream
Starting to dream about next year’s fishing holiday? A top-notch spot in Ontario for fishing or just relaxing is the wilderness preserve of Loughborough Inn on Lake Loughborough, 20 minutes north of Kingston at Battersea. The lake offers trophy northern pike, lake trout plus large and smallmouth bass. The resort also features extensive nature trails, outdoor pool, canoes and paddleboats. For further details call the Inn at 1-800-201-2837.

Briars most romantic
The Briars Resort at Jackson’s Point on the shores of Ontario’s Lake Simcoe, an hour’s drive north of Toronto, was recently awarded the somewhat unusual designation as “the most romantic and intimate golf resort in Canada” by “Canada’s Golf Course Ranking Magazine.” According to magazine publisher Bruce Longhurst, “the entire Briars environment is conducive to romantic escapes — whether or not guests ever tee off or not.” For more details on the Briars, use the Toronto area direct phone line (416) 493-2173 or toll-free 1-800-465-2376.

British Airways booms
British Airways is to invest $13 billion in new services, products, aircraft, facilities and training during the next three years. Included in this huge outlay are 43 new planes being added to their BA fleet over the next three years: 29 747-400s, nine 777s and five 757s.

Returning to Bermuda
Canada 3000 Airlines and Toronto-based Conquest Tours are offering the first package vacations to Bermuda in more than 15 years. The packages start at $619 for a three-night stay and $879 for seven nights, per person, double occupancy. Conquest is including seven hotels in its Bermuda packages. For details, see your travel agent.

Quebec’s B&B guide
Agricotours is the name of an extensive tourism network in Quebec consisting of: 414 bed & breakfasts, 56 country inns, 23 farm stays, 48 country homes, 25 city homes, 27 country-style dining establishments and seven farm excursions scattered through the province. The guide, which sells for $12.95, is available at Ulysses book stores or by calling (514) 252-3138.

225 Canadian choices
A guide to the 225 inns, hotels and resorts operated by Choice Hotels Canada is available by writing Choice Hotels Canada, Directory Requests, 5090 Explorer Drive, 6th floor, Mississauga, Ont. L4W 4T9 or by calling toll-free 1-800-424-6423. It has complete listings across Canada for Clarion, Quality, Comfort, Sleep, Rodeway and Econo Lodge locations.

Britain’s most popular
Of the free stuff in Britain, the British museum with 6.2 million visitors tops the list in the U.K. while Westminster Abbey ranks at the top of churches and cathedrals with 2.5 million visitors. Hampton Court Gardens is the favorite floral spot with 1.2 million free admissions.

Taking it easy
Egan Houseboats have been operating on Ontario’s Trent-Severn Waterway for over 25 years. The drive-yourself, fully equipped houseboats carry up to six or eight passengers on a leisurely cruise along the 240-miles of scenic lakes and rivers. There are literally thousands of islands and coves in which to anchor, or dozens of towns and villages to visit along the way. Prices start at $399 for a 3-day weekend on the 6-passenger craft up to $599 for a week with the 8-passenger boat. For more information, contact Egan Marine, R.R. 4, Omemee, Ont. K0L 2W0; phone toll-free 1-800-720-3426.

Lawn Bowling safaris
Murray Chambers, an enthusiastic lawn bowler and semi-retired travel agent, is organizing 16-day lawn bowling trips to South Africa, plus visits to the country’s magnificent game reserves. The bowling safaris include visits, via Toronto and Miami, to Johannesburg, Kruger National Park, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town. The trips will depart Nov. 19 this year and March 4 in 1998 with the tab starting at $4,299, plus $115 departure taxes, per person, double occupancy. For further information, contact Murray at (416) 449-0931 in Toronto or call toll-free 1-800-265-2817.

Take a walk
It’s the best way to really get a feel of what’s around you — rather than whizzing by in a car or bus. Ron and Cindy Maynard have been arranging walking tours for 19 years. They now have tours in various parts of Canada plus England, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. The walks are divided into easy, moderate and challenging. For a brochure on these unique tours, write to: Country Walkers, P.O. Box 180, Waterbury, Vermont 05676-0180 USA; call toll-free 1-800-464-9255.

Sailing the world
Of interest to anyone thinking about one of those freighter cruises — sailing the world on a cargo ship. The pros and cons of freighter ship travel are expertly described in the book Cargo Ship Cruising by Dr. Robert and Barbara Kane. A retired professor at Purdue University, Dr. Kane and his wife have spent the last two decades sailing the world and the book is a result of their experiences plus a handy guide on the best ships and routes. The 106-page paperback sells for $12.95 US at bookstores or by writing to the publisher, Voyaging Press, 4122 Verdant Lane, West Lafayette, Indiana, U.S.A. 47906-4673.