2011 APRIL LGT.pdf - Leisure Group Travel


2011 APRIL LGT.pdf - Leisure Group Travel

APRIL 2011

A Premier Tourism Marketing publication



Vol.21, No.2 April 2011




New musicals and old favorites await

New York-bound groups by randy mink


15 Gettysburg by randy mink

19 Chocolate Dreams by randy mink

24 Gardens of New York State by alyssa cherwak

26 Civil War Sesquicentennial by dave bodle

29 New Reasons to Travel South by dave bodle

42 Indiana’s Quilt Gardens by randy mink

44 Minnesota Theater Sampler by emily k. weber

48 Kansas Looks Back by nancy wolens

54 California Show Gardens by sue arko

57 Yosemite & Mariposa County

59 Wyoming Ranch Getaways by heather lee


©Disney/CML. Photo by Joan Marcus


4 On My Mind

by jeff gayduk

8 On Tour

by marty sarbey de souto


6 Meet Our Writers

50 On Our Radar: MIDWEST

62 On the Record

10 On Reunions

by edith wagner

14 On Civil War

by jenny mcconnell

66 On Marketing

by dave bodle



Mary Poppins on Broadway (Photo by Deen van Meer, courtesy Disney Theatrical Group)

©e Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

on my mind ❖ jeff gayduk

On My Mind

THERE’S A GENERAL consensus in

the industry that business is on the upswing.

I hear this in talking with group

travel organizers, DMOs and tour service

providers alike. After a few dismal years

for most, that’s good news all around.

I’d like to know how things are in

your neck of the woods. That’s the

intention of our 2011 Group Intentions

Survey, which accompanies this publication.

This easy-to-complete-and-return

form asks a dozen questions about your

business, where you’re going and generally

how you’re getting there. It’s our goal to

amass a collection of data that helps us

guide our editorial content in the years

ahead. We think we have a pulse on the

industry, but you’re the boots on the

ground, so to speak.

Tell us where you’re going – we’ll help

you get there! To sweeten the pot, we

are giving away a Garmin portable GPS

device to one lucky reader who returns

the Group Intentions survey by June 1.

Winners will be announced in the

August edition of Leisure Group Travel.



We continue to set the standard for

online development in the group travel

industry with our latest round of website

launches and enhancements. Leisure-

GroupTravel.com underwent an entire

overhaul last year, with additional features

added early this year including a

fresh new look, with easier navigation

to over 12,400 pages of content. It’s the

largest library of resources in the market!

Also, brand new for 2011 is a mobile

version of LeisureGroupTravel.com,

another industry first!

Not to be outshone, two of our

resource websites have undergone major

redevelopment for 2011. GroupUniversity.com

includes over a dozen how-to

guides, niche market publications and

the second edition of Marty de Souto’s

How to Plan, Operate and Lead Successful

Tours ($29.95). This is a site to sharpen

your knowledge base on all facets of

the business.

OurTravelProtector.com, Leisure Group

Travel’s sponsored travel insurance site, has

also gone through an extensive makeover.

This site provides affordable group and

individual travel insurance protection

where you set your own net rate.

Still to come in 2011, GroupTravel-

Directory.com 3.0 – the latest version of

our popular directory search engine site,

made #1 by group travel planners for

its ease of use in locating destinations,

attractions, hotels and tour companies.

Watch for the new edition in May!

Please take a few minutes to complete

and return your Group Intentions survey

and next time you’re online – whether at

your desktop or on the road – visit our

family of websites.

Happy traveling,

Jeff Gayduk, Publisher


❖ jeff gayduk

Good Intentions

Vol. 21, No. 2 April 2011

Editorial & Advertising Office

621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406

Willowbrook, IL 60527

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652


Publisher – Jeffrey Gayduk


Managing Editor – Randy Mink


Senior Editor – John Kloster


Senior Editor – Elana Andersen


Senior Editor – Dave Bodle


Director, Design & Production – Robert Wyszkowski


Director of Sales

Theresa O’Rourke

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652


Regional Sales Managers

Illinois – Jim McCurdy

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652


Northeast &

Eastern Midwest/Canada – Amy Janssens

P 630.294.0318 • F 630.794.0652


Mid Atlantic – Ellen Klesta

P 630.794.0696 • F 630.794.0652


Southeast/West Coast – Cheryl Rash

P 563.613.3068 • F 815.225.5274


Southern – Dolores Ridout

P/F 281.762.9546


Florida & Caribbean – Prof Inc.

P 813.286.8299 • F 813.287.0651


The publisher accepts unsolicited editorial matter, as well as advertising, but assumes no

responsi bility for statements made by advertisers or contributors. Every effort is made to

ensure the accuracy of the information published, but the publisher makes no warranty that

listings are free of error. The publisher is not responsible for the return of unsolicited photos,

slides or manuscripts.

Leisure Group Travel (ISSN-1531-1406) is published

bi-monthly by Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc. 621 Plainfield Road, Suite 406,

Willowbrook, IL 60527. The magazine is distributed free of charge to

qualified tour operators, travel agents, group leaders, bank travel clubs and

other travel organizations. Other travel-related suppliers may sub scribe at the

reduced rate of $12.00 per year. The regular sub scrip tion price for all others is

$18.00 per year. Single copies are $4.95 each.

Send Address Change to:

Premier Tourism Marketing, Inc.

P.O. Box 609, Palos Heights, IL 60463



All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in any

form without written permission of the publisher.

4 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Train travel in Switzerland.

Schynige-Platte cogwheel railway

Switzerland’s public transportation network is second to

none. It’s fast, efficient, frequent and connects even the

most remote places. Explore Switzerland with a single

ticket for trains, busses and boats: the Swiss Pass.

Lucerne - in the heart of Switzerland.

Lucerne has it all: the great transport museum,

the first and the steepest cogwheel

railways, a narrow-gauge panoramic train,

and historic steamships on Lake Lucerne.

Thanks to its attractions, its souvenir and

watch shops, the impressive mountainous

panorama and the nearby excursion

mountains of the Rigi and Mt. Pilatus,

the town is a destination for many travel

groups on their journey through the Lake

Lucerne Region. A train buff‘s paradise!

Engadin St. Moritz -

UNESCO World Heritage site.

The UNESCO World Heritage recognition

of the high-altitude engineering wonderland

through Switzerland’s Engadin Valley

honors one of the most spectacular, technically

innovative and harmonious narrowgauge

railways. Since the extension of

the road system through these passes,

the construction of the Rhaetian Railway

and the Bernina Express, which reaches

as far as Veltlin, Upper Engadin has been

accessible to the entire world - and people

from all over the world love this valley,

which delights visitors with its incomparable

nature at all times of the year.

Sunstar Hotels - Alpine Emotions.

Sunstar, founded in 1969, is the only

genuinely Swiss Hotel Group, with nine

first-class hotels nestled in the Alps and

offering a total of over 1,670 beds in 915

rooms. Arosa, Davos, Flims, Klosters,

Lenzerheide, Grindelwald, Zermatt and

Wengen are the best-known resorts.

Whether you come for a walking or winter

sports vacation, to visit a spa center or to

attend a meeting or other special event

– at Sunstar Hotels, guests with varied interests

will feel at home and enjoy “Alpine


For information on Switzerland, please visit MySwitzerland.com/steam

For bookings, call Rail Source International: 1-800-551-2085

On the Write Side

Meet the Contributors to This Issue





see page 10

Founder and editor of Reunions magazine,

Edith is the editor in chief of Premier

Tourism Marketing’s Reunions Workbook,

the leading guide for reunion planners.

Read Edith’s page 10 column on

ways to find and increase reunion

group business.


see page 8

sarbey de souto

Our long-time columnist is the author of

the e-book How to Plan, Operate and

Lead Successful Group Tours. A native of

Cleveland, she lives in El Cerrito, Calif.,

with her husband, Jose Souto-Martinez

of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her hobbies

are dancing, gardening, reading, writing

and traveling. Enjoy Marty’s column on

page 8.

see page 15

Leisure Group’s Travel managing editor

is happiest when he’s touring New York

City, which he visited last Christmas.

Randy also enjoyed his next out-of-theoffice

escape, a Pennsylvania trip that

included Hershey, Chocolatetown USA.

See his articles on pages 15, 19, 20

and 42.


see page 24


Alyssa, an editorial intern, is a senior majoring

in English at the University of Illinois

at Chicago, where she is a writer for

the Chicago Flame newspaper. Her interests

include fishing, trying new foods

and traveling. She has traveled to many

U.S. cities, but her most memorable trip

was to Guatemala. Enjoy Alyssa’s New

York State gardens article on page 24.

Thinking of Elana Andersen

Elana Andersen has been a stable force on Leisure Group

Travel’s editorial team since 2002. Her knowledge of the

Western group travel market is unrivaled, and we’re proud

that she’s written more stories for the publication than any

other writer. Early this year after a night out with friends,

Elana suffered a stroke. She’s currently home in Scotts

Valley, Calif., rehabbing and spending time with family and

friends. We wish her a speedy recovery and our thoughts

and prayers go out to her and her family in this recovery

period. Elana can be reached directly at elana@got.net.

emily k.


see page 44

A communications major at Lake Forest College

in north suburban Chicago, our editorial

intern recently studied abroad in New Zealand

and the Netherlands, feeding her passion

for travel and learning about other cultures.

Emily has been a member of her college

cross country team and spent summers working

at a YMCA camp in Wisconsin. Enjoy her

“Minnesota Theater Sampler” on page 44.

dave bodle

see page 26

A sought after speaker and seminar facilitator,

Dave operates David’s Tour Connections,

a receptive tour operator that serves Myrtle

Beach, the Carolinas and Virginia and offers

outgoing tours as well. A former publisher of

travel trade publications, he heads up our

Southern editorial coverage. Enjoy Dave’s

features on pages 26 and 29 and his marketing

column on page 66.



see page 54

A resident of Gilbert, Ariz., Sue is owner

of Free Spirit Vacations and Events and

co-owner of Red Hot Celebrations and

Travel Alliance Partners. She also is an

active member of the National Tour Association.

The highlight of her life is when

she is able to travel with her 16-year-old

daughter, Jacey. Enjoy Sue’s “California

Show Gardens” feature on page 54.



see page 59

A senior at Trinity Christian College in

Palos Heights, Ill., our editorial intern is

majoring in English and history. Last fall

she attended Oxford University in England,

where she pursued her interest in

soccer with the Oxford University Women’s

Association Football Club. Enjoy Heather’s

Wyoming ranch feature on page 59.

Become a fan of ours on

Facebook and we’ll keep

you informed of the latest

news in the industry by sending you

Facebook updates when news breaks. Simply search

for “Group Travel” and look for the Premier Tourism

Marketing logo! Leisure Group Travel is also joining

the Twitter craze. Go to Twitter.com/LeisureGroup to

get the latest “tweets” from the Leisure Group Travel staff.




Amish living in

Northern Indiana


Length of

Manhattan Island

in miles


The year Kansas

entered the Union

as the 34th state


Minutes between

Hershey and

Washington, DC


Varieties of roses

at Huntington

Botanical Gardens


Words in Lincoln’s

Gettysburg Address


Men who died

in the Civil War

6 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

On Tour

❖ marty sarbey de souto, ctc

Keeping Tour Members in the Loop


once someone has enrolled in one of

our tours, that’s it. Nothing else to do

until we send out final documents and

then departure day when we all meet

and off we go.

Not so. You need to keep in touch

with trip participants at various intervals

to keep their interest and excitement

high and to keep a tight umbilical cord

between you and them. You don’t want

them canceling out of your trip because

something more interesting appeared

on their horizon. And you want to keep

them informed so they may learn to be

better travelers and not drive you crazy

calling with questions every few days.

So, when do we contact them, what

do we send them, and what additional

information do we give them

international trips. I also touch on health

issues and, of course, travel insurance.

The subject of cameras and photography,

seat rotation on motorcoaches,

and en route medications are also worth

mentioning. I like to suggest a couple

of books they might like to read (or

movies they might like to revisit) to give

them background information on areas

they’ll be visiting. Right now I’m planning

a fall 2011 trip to Berlin and Eastern

Germany so I’ve suggested some of

the old Cold War spy stories such as the

John le Carré’s 1965 The Spy Who Came

In From The Cold with Richard Burton.

throughout the entire trip with a prize

to the tour member who could come

up with the most words wherein British

English differed from American English

– they came up with over 100 and still



Your participants also deserve a

return-home mailing, welcoming them

back to the “real world” of bill payments,

medical appointments, family

squabbles and other less glamorous

parts of life. Give them something to

remember with pleasure their time

You don’t want them canceling out of your

trip because something more interesting

appeared on their horizon.


Once someone has enrolled, I send

them an acknowledgement of their

booking – not just a cold computer

receipt but a gracious letter welcoming

them to the trip (the receipt can be

attached if you wish). I enclose my first

information bulletin preparing them for

the trip. Since the initial brochure or

flyer you’ve used to solicit their enrollment

can’t possibly include all the pretrip

information they need, this postenrollment

bulletin picks up where the

initial publicity material left off.

Some of the topics I like to cover are

anticipated weather, clothing and packing

suggestions, and baggage limitations.

If it’s an international trip, a must would

be requirements such as passports, inoculations

and visas (if required). Foreign

currency and suggestions for handling

monies en route are also important for

Some trip organizers like to do something

more elaborate (and costly) such

as sending a special T-shirt or flight bag

(of course, these have to be priced into

your trip budget from the outset).


If there’s a fairly long flight involved

at the outset of your trip, I like to give

them some fun handout en route. It

could be a puzzle you dream up or a

vocabulary lesson of common phrases

or words they’ll be likely to encounter

at their destination. Do your travelers to

New Orleans really know what beignets

are or do visitors to San Francisco know

that Nob Hill and its old mansions

represent wealthy homes of the so-called

“robber barons” who built the first

transcontinental railroad On a trip to

England last year, I ran a contest

with you: a photo, a souvenir, news of

an upcoming reunion or just a welcome

home letter. And a questionnaire to

complete and let you know how they

felt about the tour. (Be sure to put a

place on this form for them to refer

friends to you). Do keep them on a

mailing list to receive advance notice of

your next tour so they feel they’ve been

given special treatment.

All a lot of extra work Perhaps.

Worth it You betcha.

Marty is founder of the travel industry

program at Berkeley (Calif.) City College,

where she taught all aspects of group travel

for 32 years. She is a Certified Travel Counselor

(CTC) and continues to design and

lead tours as well as provide consulting

services.You may reach her at josemarty@

yahoo.com. For information on her book

How To Plan, Operate, and Lead Successful

Group Tours, click on Premier Tourism

Marketing's educational website, groupuniversity.com.

8 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Over 500 Locations

Service, Value, Variety

Free meals for your driver and group leader

• Ample free motor coach parking • All-inclusive nationwide pricing • Food that’s ready for a quick, hassle-free stop

• A wide variety of foods to accommodate specific diet choices

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner

Reservations made easy. Visit www.buffet.com/leisuregroup

email: groupsales@buffetsinc.com or call 866-840-6654

© 2010 Buffets, Inc.

On Reunions

Where Are All the Reunions

❖ edith wagner


serving or selling to reunions wonders

how to find them. And that was certainly

our question 21 years ago when

we started trying to find reunions to

share our magazine (Reunions) with. As

it turns out, however, it was a matter of

how to make reunions find us. Because

what we learned was reunions can be

anywhere, organized by anyone, and

there is nothing that distinguishes the

people from anyone else. In other

words, there was no one convenient

place to find reunions.

Reunion organizers typically are very

devoted to their group, but there’s no

way you can tell that without asking.

Most reunion organizers do not simply

blurt it out, nor do they wear T-shirts

that say “I organize my family reunion.”

Although on the subject of T-shirts, you

can easily tell it’s a reunion group if

they’re all wearing one of those kazillions

of family reunion shirts that are

ubiquitous in summer. You’ll have a

pretty good clue that in that crowd there

is a leader, a decision maker and someone

you’d like to talk to.

Okay, so we’ve established that the

business of finding reunions is tricky

because there’s no way to really identify

a reunion organizer unless you ask.

And how do you do that without walking

up to everyone you encounter, and


To start your very own collection of

reunions, start close to home. Ask anyone,

where appropriate, if they have a

reunion, are going to a reunion or know

someone who is planning a reunion so

that you can inform them of your services.

That, of course, is about as slow a

way as you can do it but probably the

most accurate.

Branching out, I’d suggest you include

reunions on the list of kinds of groups

you serve. It will give reunion organizers

ideas. Use every church, school and club

bulletin you can find to offer tour services

to reunion groups. Share several itineraries

that might interest reunion groups

as examples. Plant the seeds.

To reach reunion organizers, include reunions

on the list of kinds of groups you serve



Tours for many reunions are essential,

but how those tours are constructed can

take many different shapes. And, of

course, come in many sizes. As do all


Starting with the most parochial are

tours of places that are of importance

to the family or reunion group. These

tours are usually facilitated based upon

a list provided by the organizer or a

representative of the reunion or sometimes

by a local historical society. Often

historians or genealogists act as step-on

guides for the tour.

Most reunions are interested in tours

of the local attractions where they are

meeting. They could choose an established

tour or declare specific things

they want to see or visit.

Taking tours a little further afield

is not unusual for some reunions. I

wrote a story recently about reunions

in Norfolk, Virginia, where several

military reunions added days to tour

Williamsburg and Jamestown while

they were in the area.

Before the start of the recession, I was

learning about more and more reunions

hiring motorcoaches. One summer

weekend I stayed in a suburban Detroit

business park hotel filled with reunions.

(Smart hotel: business travelers all week,

reunions on the weekend.) There were

at least half a dozen buses from all over

the country. During the reunion the

coaches took members to picnics and on

local tours or ferried them to malls,

casinos and the zoo. Indicative of a good

reunion, most of the members were

dragging their exhausted selves onto the

bus Sunday morning hugging their

pillows and clearly

expecting to catch up

on sleep on the trip


Reunion organizers

will find valuable

ideas in the

11th edition of

Reunions Workbook,

a step by-step

planning guide

published by

Premier Tourism Marketing. Subjects

range from choosing a date and location

to budgeting and setting up committees.

Also covered are accommodations, meals,

themes, activities and fundraising. To order

Reunions Workbook ($9.95), log on to



Reunions magazine’s website does

have a list of upcoming reunions. There

might well be a group listed that is waiting

to hear from you!

Edith Wagner is founder and editor of

Reunions magazine. Visit reunionsmag.com

for more info, request a free sample of the

magazine and become a fan on Facebook.

10 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

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Peoria, AZ 85382

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Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

Mesa, AZ 85205

(888) 504-7256



Murry’s Dinner Playhouse

Little Rock, AR 72204

(501) 562-3131



Candlelight Pavilion

Claremont, CA 91711

(909) 626-3296 x12


Welk Resort Theatre

Escondido, CA 92026

(760) 749-3182 x22139



Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre

Ft. Myers, FL 33907

(239) 278-4422


Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theatre

Orlando, FL 32819

(407) 363-1985



Circa ‘21 Dinner Theatre

Rock Island, IL 61201

(309) 786-2667 x303


Conklin’s Barn II Dinner Theatre

Goodfield, IL 61742

(309) 965-2545


Tommy Gun’s Garage

Chicago, IL 60616

(800) 461-0178



Derby Dinner Playhouse

Clarksville, IN 47129

(812) 288-2632 x128



Crown Uptown Theatre

Wichita, KS 67218

(316) 681-1566


New Jersey

Hunterdon Hills Playhouse

Hampton, NJ 8827

(908) 730-8007


North Carolina

Barn Dinner Theatre

Greensboro, NC 27409

(336) 292-2211 x3022



Allenberry Playhouse

Boiling Springs, PA 17007

(717) 258-3211


Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

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Freedom Chapel Dinner Theatre

Christiana, PA 17509

(610) 593-7013


Rainbow Dinner Theatre

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(800) 292-4301


Riverside Inn Dinner Theatre

Cambridge Springs, PA 16403

(800) 964-5173


Station Dinner Theatre

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Pines Dinner Theatre

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(610) 433-2333



Chaffin’s Barn

Nashville, TN 37221

(800) 282-2276 x11



Mystery Dinner Playhouse

Richmond, VA 23223

(888) 471-4802



Armory Dinner Theater

Janesville, WI 53547

(608) 531-0186


Fireside Dinner Theatre

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Jackson Hole Playhouse

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On The Front

❖ jenny mcconnell

Making the Civil War

Come Alive for Your Troops


American Civil War will generate a

renewed interest in our nation’s history,

and domestic and foreign travelers

alike will plan trips to Civil War sites

throughout the United States.

For group travel planners, there is

an array of opportunities for all ages,

backgrounds and levels of interest and

knowledge. Numerous states, towns

and historic sites are planning expanded

programs, new attractions and events

to commemorate this important


Travel planners interested in developing

Civil War or history-themed

trips should first take the time to note

important dates throughout the fouryear

Civil War. This will enable trips to

be built around anniversaries and the

events associated with those times,

including battle re-enactments, special

tours and performances. A Civil War

site such as Manassas, Va., for example,

is likely to be planning more events

and activities on its anniversary than

at other times during the Civil War


While it may not necessarily be the

first stop, a battlefield should be the

centerpiece of any Civil War trip.

Visitors are eager to step foot on the

hallowed ground where history was

made. Museums and visitors centers are

great starting locations for visitors to

develop an understanding of Civil War

history, but the bulk of passengers can’t

wait to see where it all happened.

It’s important as well to research the

variety of ways to visit a battlefield. In

Gettysburg, Pa., for example, bus tours

are popular, but groups can also tour

the battlefield on horseback or on foot.

Small groups can even ride Segway

personal transporters.

While standard Civil War visits are

built around museums, tours and other

attractions, group travel planners can

also increase the value of their trips with

Planning trips around events are good

ways to attract people who may or may not

have been to Civil War sites previously.

personalized appearances by Civil War

period presenters, special tours of artifacts

normally not on display, or group

or individual photos in period costume.

When it comes to authentic experiences,

don’t stop at entertainment.

Historically accurate restaurants and,

depending on the size of the group,

Civil War-era lodging are great ways to

engage visitors during their entire stay.

Guests can literally get a taste of Civil

War life and get a hands-on experience

throughout their entire trip.

Planning trips around events are

good ways to attract people who may

or may not have been to Civil War

sites previously. Events such as re-enactments,

living history camps, music

festivals or even small-scale programs

are great ways to enrich a visit to a

historic site.

It’s worth the time to research

opportunities beyond the destination’s

“big draw.” Extraordinary museums are

often tucked away and offer unique

experiences focusing on civilians and

lesser-known heroes, or follow themes

such as Civil War medicine, faith or

African-American experiences.

When it comes to museums, be sure

to craft an itinerary that blends both

self-guided and narrated sites. Too

much of either can bore or be too overwhelming

for your passengers. While

guided tours are often the most engaging,

many visitors enjoy some “down

time” to peruse the artifacts at their

own leisurely pace.

Depending on the level of interest,

it might be wise to include more than

one Civil War site. Each tells a distinct

story and offers different experiences.

Many of the sites are already connected

through partnerships such as the Journey

Through Hallowed Ground or

Civil War Trails.

The best place to start is with the

local visitors bureaus. Staffs there can

help direct you to the best places to

begin as well as sharing with you some

of those hidden gems that can be overlooked

by group travel planners.

The 150th anniversary is a great

opportunity for both Civil War destinations

and tour planners. Students,

seniors and everyone in between will

be looking for ways to be a part of this

national observance.

Jenny McConnell is the director of sales of

the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Contact: 800-337-5015, jenny@gettysburg.travel.

14 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: northeast ❖ randy mink

This small Pennsylvania

town with a big name

in the history books

prepares for the Civil War


“What I personally

love the most is taking

a step back, finding

my favorite place on

the battlefield and just

setting back on a rock

and taking in the beauty

of the battlefield. Even

though so much death

and destruction took

place here, there is such

a peace that resonates

at Gettysburg.”

— A frequent traveler

to Gettysburg

A statue of Confederate

Gen. Robert E. Lee crowns

the Virginia Memorial.

All Photos Courtesy of Gettysburg CVB

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 15

on location: northeast ❖

As the nation prepares to kick off a

five-year commemoration of the 150th

anniversary of the Civil War, this is a

perfect time for Americans to reflect on

the epic conflict that pitted state against

state, friend against friend. Gettysburg,

where the war’s greatest battle raged,

will take center stage in that observance.

A visit to the battlefield and other

sites brings home the tragedies endured

from 1861-1865 and puts into focus the

monumental struggle between North

and South. Had it not been for the

heroic feats on this Southern Pennsylvania

farm land the first three days of

July in 1863, America would be a different

country. A Union victory that

marked the beginning of the end for

Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate

Army, the Battle of Gettysburg is regarded

as the turning point of the Civil

War. The largest battle ever fought on

American soil saw more than 51,000

soldiers killed, wounded or captured.

Geared for group travel, the town of

8,100 annually welcomes three million

tourists and hosts 15,000 motorcoaches.

Travel planners can choose from a wide

range of tours, museums, and groupfriendly

hotels and restaurants. Organizers

also can arrange for living history

interpreters, like Gen. Ulysses S. and

Mrs. Grant, to come on the coach or

give a presentation.

Gettysburg National Military Park

Museum and Visitor Center, adjacent

to the battlefield, is the focal point of

tourism and obvious place to start.

Opened in April of 2008, the state-ofthe-art

facility offers 21st century

amenities for the nearly two million

who visit Gettysburg National Military

Park every year.

In addition to 12 exhibit galleries

filled with videos and interactive stations,

the Visitor Center presents “A

Unlimited Inspiration

Commemorate the

Civil War 150th with us




Visit the Eisenhower National Historic Site. | Visit the David Wills House in Downtown Gettysburg.

Shop in the Museum Bookstore. | Enjoy Civil War-era food in the Refreshment Saloon.

Join the Friends of Gettysburg–help us preserve this hallowed ground.


1195 Baltimore Pike | Gettysburg, PA 17325 | Tickets: 877-874-2478

reservations@gettysburgfoundation.org | www.gettysburgfoundation.org

A rousing re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg takes place every July.

New Birth of Freedom,” a 22-minute

film narrated by Morgan Freeman that

immerses viewers in the sights, sounds

and emotions of the battle and its aftermath.

Following the film, guests take an

escalator to the Gettysburg Cyclorama,

a colossal circular oil painting that gives

them the illusion of standing in the

middle of Pickett’s Charge, a battle

tableau complete with marching troops,

men fighting with bayonets, cannon

smoke, and ground littered with canteens,

shoes, broken wheels, and dead

soldiers and horses. A sound-and-light

show with narration enhances the 360-

degree experience.

At 377 feet by 42 feet, the Gettysburg

Cyclorama, created by French

artists in 1883-1884 and fresh from a

five-year, $12-million restoration completed

in 2008, is the largest painting

in the U.S. The three-dimensional

diorama and a sky that disappears into

an overhead canopy—features that had

been missing for more than 40 years—

have been recreated.

Licensed battlefield guides at the

Visitor Center can board a group’s motorcoach

for a two-hour tour. The center

has a dedicated group entrance and

classroom space. A bus drivers lounge is


See Randy Mink’s article on

the National Civil War Museum in

Harrisburg, Pa., a 45-minute drive from

Gettysburg. Log on to http://leisuregrouptravel.com/p=22794.

16 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

located in the coach parking lot.

With more than 1,300 monuments

and memorials, Gettysburg National

Military Park boasts one of the world’s

largest collections of outdoor sculptures.

The towering Pennsylvania Monument

is the largest and most complex.

One memorial recalls the 272 words

spoken by President Lincoln at the dedication

of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery

four months after the battle. His

eloquent two-minute speech on Nov.

19, 1863, is today known as the Gettysburg

Address (“that this nation, under

God, shall have a new birth of freedom;

and that this government of the people,

by the people, for the people shall not

perish from the earth.”) This cemetery

in Gettysburg National Military Park, a

final resting place for veterans through

the Vietnam War, was officially closed

in 1972, but plots remain for dependents

of those interred.

For insight into Lincoln’s immortal

address, tour the David Wills House, a

National Park Service-owned museum

in downtown Gettysburg. Opened in

2009, the attorney’s home is where Lincoln

put the finishing touches on the

speech. Restored to its 1863 appearance,

the house (privately owned for decades)

showcases the bedroom where Lincoln

slept on the night before the Gettysburg

Address and Wills’ office. Exhibits interpret

the battle’s aftermath and Wills’

efforts to set aside battlefield land for a

cemetery for the Union dead. The home

was the center of the immense clean-up

process after the July 1-3 battle and was

used to care for the wounded.

Downtown abounds with other museums

and historic houses, not to mention

Civil War-themed shops and

restaurants. Steps from the David Wills

House are the Cannon Ball Old Tyme

Groups can hire a guide for a two-hour tour of the Gettysburg battlefield.

Obtain Pennsylvania

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


Malt Shop and McClellan’s Tavern, a

restaurant in the historic Gettysburg

Hotel. Named after Union Gen.

George McClellan, the tavern serves

the Confederate Burger, Custer’s Melt

and other sandwiches named for Civil

War generals. The Tavern in back of the

Farnsworth House Inn remembers the

war with props and costumes from the

Hollywood movie Gettysburg and runs

it continuously on the TV. Built in

1810, the B&B inn bears 100 bullet

holes from the battle. Group dinner

buffets are available.

Wait staff in colonial garb and candlelit

rooms lend charm to the 1776

Dobbin House Tavern, the oldest build-


on location: northeast ❖

ing in Gettysburg. Many of the rooms,

including the casual Springhouse Tavern

in the basement, have fireplaces. The

same atmosphere pervades the attached

banquet room where large groups (up to

150) enjoy buffet meals.

Gettysburg antique shops deal in

Civil War bullets, cannon balls, weapons,

uniform buttons and other memorabilia,

while gift shops sell everything from toy

guns and swords to soldier caps, flags,



“One Call Does It All!”

A Premier Receptive Tour Operator

with customized services for groups of all

ages, sizes and interest.

Call (800) 447-8788


Lincoln throw pillows, stovepipe hats,

and Blue and Gray teddy bears.

The American Civil War Wax Museum

presents the North vs. South rivalry

through life-size dioramas. Scenes

spotlight events like the Lincoln-Douglas

Debates, Lincoln assassination and

Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

Visitors also learn about the Underground

Railroad, black troops in the

54th Massachusetts Infantry and Clara

Barton, the “Angel of the Battlefields,”

whose efforts led to the founding of the

American Red Cross. A visit concludes

in the Battle Room, where

flashing lights, sound effects and narration

enhance a film and large diorama.

After the battle, an animatronic

Abraham Lincoln rises from the floor

to deliver the Gettysburg Address and

a choir sings the “Battle Hymn of the

Republic.” Weekly living history encampments

take place from April

through October.

Several Gettysburg sites provide

townspeople’s perspectives on the war.

The Jennie Wade House Museum,

for example, tells the story of a 20-

year-old woman hit by a stray bullet,

the only civilian killed during the battle.

Other attractions include Shriver

House Museum, Gettysburg Diorama,

Lincoln Train Station Museum,

Soldiers National Museum, and Hall

of Presidents & First Ladies.

For visitors, “night life” in Gettysburg

often means a ghost tour. Several

companies offer candlelight walks






- Sleep Number Beds and LCD Flat Screen TVs

- Fantastic Tavern Dining & Casual Coffee Bar

- Located in the Heart of Rittenhouse Square

1701 Locust Street | Philadelphia PA 19103

radisson.com/philadelphiapa | 215 735 6000

The superb museum at Gettysburg

National Military Park is a must.

that offer glimpses into the past through

the spirits that are said to linger here.

Many TV documentaries have featured

Gettysburg, reputed to be one of the

most haunted towns in the world.

The town’s Civil War 150th anniversary

celebration will include special observances,

expanded programs and tours,

and large battle re-enactments. The annual

July 1-3 re-enactment, an ABA Top

100 Event this year, presents continuous

living history each day, including military

camps, medical demonstrations,

ladies fashions, a period worship service

and live Civil War music.

One highlight of the five-year commemoration

will be the 2013 opening

of the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological

Seminary’s Schmucker Hall, a building

that served as a Union lookout on July 1

and a field hospital. The new museum

will tell the story of the battle’s first day

and faith and medicine in the Civil War.

This year and the next few will be

the ideal time to bring your troops to

Gettysburg, hallowed ground that not

only saw unimaginable horrors but acts

of compassion and words of hope for

healing a divided nation.

For information on group travel, contact

Jenny McConnell, Gettysburg CVB,

800-337-5015, jenny@gettysburg.travel;

gettysburggrouptours.travel. LGT

18 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: northeast ❖ randy mink

Happy product characters afford great photo ops at Hershey attractions.

cows. Hershey uses 250,000 gallons of

milk daily from thousands of cows on

hundreds of area farms. Upon leaving

the ride, everyone gets a product sample.

Hershey’s Create Your Own Candy

Bar ($9.95) is another Chocolate World

experience. You won’t get your hands

dirty, but you’ll have to sanitize them

and don an apron and hairnet as you

play factory worker. You design the

candy bar and personalized wrapper by

touching a computer screen, then walk

along the assembly line to see it made.

The half-hour Chocolate Tasting

Adventure takes place in a classroom,

where a lady in a white lab coat lectures

from a podium and cuts away to videos

of the wacky Dr. Livingston McNib

collecting cacao pods in the rainforest.

Students sample five chocolate products

and try to pick up nuances in taste,

appearance and smell. The list of vocabulary

words includes “woodsy,”

“buttery,” “fruity” and other flavor

notes. To the strains of “Pomp and

Circumstance,” graduates are handed a

Hershey’s University diploma and fullsize

chocolate bar.

Be sure to save lots of time for

Chocolate World’s shop, which borders

a “rainforest” of palms, banana plants

and cacao trees under a glass roof. The

store offers an overwhelming variety of

bags and boxes of Hershey brands, including

Reese’s, Kit Kat and Almond

Joy. Pick up a Hershey’s or Reese’s logo

pillow, plush product characters, cocoa

bath products or the World’s Largest

Kiss (44.8 ounces). There’s even a T-

shirt whose chocolate scent is supposed

to last seven washings. The food court

Chocolate Dreams

Groups with a sweet tooth will find bliss

in Hershey, Pennsylvania

Chocolate World…a tourist attraction

whose very name sends my

taste buds into ecstasy. Where else

could I design my own candy bar and

walk out the door holding a master’s

degree in chocolate tasting And, oh,

the mega-gift shop—I was like a kid in,

well, a candy store.

The town of Hershey, established in

the early 1900s, was built on chocolate.

You’re reminded of its industrial heritage

as you cruise down Chocolate and

Cocoa avenues, where the street lights

are shaped like Hershey’s Kisses.

At Hershey’s Chocolate World the

place to start is the Great American

Chocolate Tour, a free, 10-minute ride

through the company’s milk chocolatemaking

magic. A virtual factory tour,

the narrated tram trip follows the process

from sorting cocoa beans to packaging

candy. Along the way, you’ll meet singing

See how candy is made on the virtual

factory tour at Chocolate World.

has countless lunch choices, plus irresistible

chocolaty baked goods.

At The Hershey Story, The Museum

on Chocolate Avenue, groups can make

candy in the Chocolate Lab, taste hot

chocolate from around the world and

learn the rags-to-riches story of entrepreneur

and philanthropist Milton Hershey.

Other options in Hershey include

tours of the historic Hershey Hotel and

Hershey Theatre, thrill rides at Hersheypark,

ZooAmerica North American

Wildlife Park and Hershey Gardens.

Contact: Hershey Groups, 877-

323-6903; hersheygroups.com. LGT

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 19



Sister Act

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert

The Lion King

Radio City Music Hall, a

short walk from the bright

lights of Broadway, offers

a behind-the-scenes tour

of the Art Deco landmark

in Rockefeller Center.


20 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: northeast ❖ randy mink

Radio City Music Hall Photo

Courtesy of MSG Entertainment

It may not have the magic of Mary

Poppins, lavish trappings of The Lion

King or notoriety of Spider-Man,

Turn Off the Dark, but a little Off-

Broadway production can satisfy one’s

craving for New York theater as much

as a splashy musical.

I was reminded of that recently when

my night on the town took place in an

intimate basement theater under Sofia’s

Restaurant on 46th Street, just steps

from the bright lights of Times Square

and blockbuster shows. The quirky, twoperson

comedy, Miss Abigail’s Guide to

Dating, Mating & Marriage, kept us

chuckling throughout and included audience

participation. The prim and

proper Miss Abigail, a sought-after relationship

expert whose advice for couples

harks back to the 1950s, is played by

Eve Plumb, who portrayed Jan Brady for

five seasons on TV’s The Brady Bunch.

Though Miss Abigail holds court in

the heart of New York’s Broadway theater

district, it is considered Off-

Broadway, a term that refers to theaters

with 100-499 seats. Not that the casual

theater-goer always knows the difference,

says Jody Bell of Broadway-

Space.com, the group sales division of

Davenport Theatrical Enterprises, producer

of Miss Abigail. Some Broadway

hits, once their numbers start to dwindle,

move to smaller Off-Broadway

theaters to save on production costs,

she explained, pointing to Avenue Q as

a current example.

Bell said Miss Abigail is popular with

senior groups, as is the hit Broadway

musical Million Dollar Quartet, a look

back at rock ’n’ roll stars Elvis Presley,

Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl

Perkins on the day in 1956 when they

gathered in a Memphis recording studio.

For this spring, she notes a moviesturned-musicals

trend, citing Sister Act,

Catch Me If You Can and Priscilla: Queen

of the Desert, all of which opened or

began previews in March.

With a total of six new musicals,

“we’re seeing one of the busiest springs

in recent memory,” said Dennis Martin,

director, group sales programs, Broadway.com/Groups.

“They’re selling every

single seat.”

As Broadway ticket sales continue

strong, each of Broadway’s 40 theaters

has been occupied, Martin said. “When

one show closes, another one moves in.”

According to The Broadway League,

Broadway attendance for the 2010 calendar

year totaled 12.11 million, an increase

over the previous year’s 11.88

million. Attendance for the 2009-2010

Broadway season topped that of the 10

professional New York and New Jersey

sports teams combined.

Martin notes that Whoopi Goldberg

(who starred in the movie Sister Act) is

a producer of the Broadway version, and

Bette Midler is one of Priscilla’s producers.

Catch Me If You Can, based on

the Tom Hanks/Leonardo DiCaprio

film about a real-life con artist, was

created by the team behind Hairspray.

Wonderland, a new spin on the classic

story of Alice and her Looking

Glass world, opens April 17. This fresh

take features a modern-day woman

who goes on a life-changing adventure

far below the streets of New York City.

Spider-Man, which garnered tons of

publicity when actors got seriously injured

in acrobatic stunts during early

performances, continues to be a hot

seller, Bell said, admitting that “we

were swarmed with requests” (for tickets)

the day after the first accident. “It’s

like a rollercoaster—people enjoy the

adrenaline…Everyone asks me about

it.” Music and lyrics by Bono and The

Edge of U2 enhance the story of the

Marvel comic book hero, the most expensive

Broadway show ever produced.

(Spider-Man officially is still in previews,

but at press time the latest word

is that it will finally open June 14 following

significant revisions. The show

goes on a three-week hiatus starting

April 19.)

“The revival to see,” Martin said, is

How to Succeed in Business (Without Really

Trying) starring Daniel Radcliffe (of

Harry Potter fame) and five-time Emmy

Award winner John Larroquette (Night

Court, The Practice). They make their

Broadway musical debuts in this 50th

anniversary revival, which opened

March 27. Another new revival: Cole

Porter’s Anything Goes with Joel Grey

and Sutton Foster, featuring songs like

“I Get a Kick out of You,” “You’re the

Top,” “It’s De-Lovely” and the title tune.

A revival of Godspell is coming this

fall, and “everyone is anticipating the

opening of that one,” Bell said.

Student travelers have played a major

part in the ongoing success of Mary

Poppins and The Lion King, says Bryan

Dockett, vice president national sales,

Disney Theatrical Group. “The student/youth

market is the core of our

group business.”

He said, “The youth market has

been a constant for us and has stayed

strong even during the whole recession”

because parents are willing to spend the

money on school trips. “They want

their kids to have that experience and

don’t want them to miss out on it.”

Besides seeing the show, student

groups can take advantage of Disneycreated

study guides that tie in the

content of Mary Poppins and The Lion

King with geography and other classroom

subjects. Also for school groups,

90-minute theater workshops focus on

dance, music and how the whole show

comes together.

Student and other groups that book

a performance of Mary Poppins can get

a tour of the New Amsterdam Theatre,

another add-on offered by Disney

Theatrical. Dockett said the tour, of-

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 21

THE RIDE, a new Manhattan tour option, presents its own live entertainment.

on location: northeast ❖

fered when the theater presented The

Lion King (which moved in 2006 to

the Minskoff Theatre), was recently

reintroduced after a hiatus. The tour

explores the history of Broadway theater

and the Disney-City of New York

partnership that in 1996 re-launched

the New Amsterdam and played a key

role in cleaning up 42nd Street, which,

back in the early 1990s, was tawdry

and “not a place to bring tourists,”

Dockett said.

The Lion King, the seventh longest

running musical in Broadway history,

opened in November of 1997.

Still going strong, the colorful show

just enjoyed its best year in the last

13, Dockett said, and Mary Poppins

had its second best box office since

opening in November of 2006.

Only Phantom of the Opera, which

opened in 1988, and Chicago (1996)

have been on Broadway longer than

The Lion King. Other long-running

current shows: Mamma Mia (2001),

Wicked (2003) and Jersey Boys (2005).

The newest form of entertainment

in town is a traveling, 49-seat

theater called THE RIDE. On

super-sized, custom vehicles outfitted

like a theater, with sideways-facing

stadium seating, tour passengers roll

through Midtown Manhattan on a 75-

minute journey that combines commentary

with sidewalk performances

(designed just for THE RIDE) by

dancers, singers, rappers and comedians.

The 4.5-mile tour starts at the

New York Marriott Marquis in Times

Square. Group tickets are $55. (experiencetheride.com)

TV fans flock to Rockefeller Plaza

for behind-the-scenes tours of NBC

Studios in the GE Building, location

of the TV series 30 Rock. Guests walk

into studios used by such shows as

Dr. Oz, Football Night in America, NBC

Nightly News and Saturday Night Live.

Every tour member has a chance to

pose behind an anchor desk in a mock

Radio City Music Hall hosts concerts and

the annual Christmas Spectacular.

studio, and two people can volunteer to

read the news or do the weather. The

tour starts in the NBC Studios Store, a

good place to shop for souvenirs of current

TV hits like 30 Rock and The Office,

plus old favorites like Seinfeld and

Friends. (nbcstudiotour.com)

If your group doesn’t catch a concert

or The Radio City Christmas Spectacular

at Radio City Music Hall, they can

get an eyeful of this Art Deco jewel on

the one-hour “Stage Door Tour,” another

behind-the-scenes offering at

Rockefeller Center. A highlight is

meeting a Radio City Rockette and

posing with the leggy dancer for a picture.

Walking through back corridors,

tour members see posters of past concert

performers (from Bette Midler to

Steve Wonder) and movies that premiered

at this larger-than-life theater

dating from 1932. For 45 years it packaged

first-run movies with the Rockettes

and other live acts until that

format lost appeal. Radio City was in

danger of being demolished after permanently

closing in 1978. Today this

landmark glistens from a restoration

project that started in 1999. More than

one million people walk through its

doors during The Christmas Spectacular’s

eight-week engagement—that’s

twice as many as the biggest Broadway

show draws all year. (radiocity.com)

This summer Radio City’s cavernous,

6,000-seat auditorium hosts

Zarkana, a Cirque du Soleil acrobatic

spectacle that runs from June 9

through Sept. 4. The story plunges

Zark, a magician on a quest to find

his lost powers, into a bizarre world

inhabited by surreal creatures.

Top of the Rock, the GE Building’s

three-level observatory, is yet

another Rockefeller Center mustsee.

Views of the skyscraper-studded

skyline and the vast expanse of

Central Park unfold from open-air

terraces on floors 68, 69 and 70. In

the distance the Statue of Liberty

stands sentinel in New York Harbor.


Top of the Rock is an attraction

covered by New York CityPASS.

Valid for nine days, the convenient

ticket ($79 for adults) lets pass holders

skip the lines and pays for itself if

you see only five of the six attractions.

Marc Bryan-Brown

Continued on page 25

22 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com




A perfect ect piece

of musical


–NY Post

In New York City • On Tour Across North America

© Disney/CML



New York City | Las Vegas

On Tour Across North America


Make your New York Broadway experience even more magical with historic New Amsterdam Theatre tours.

Call 800-439-9000 to speak to a Disney Theatrical Sales Group Specialist.

For a sneak peek, visit


on location: northeast ❖ alyssa cherwak

Discovering the Gardens

of New York State

Horticultural wonderlands enchant

groups that appreciate a green thumb

New York is a state widely known for

bustling city life, but it also has many

beautiful botanic gardens that offer an

escape from the urban frenzy. Located

throughout the Empire State are gardens

that embrace horticulture from all over

the world. Here are just a few examples:

Snug Harbor Cultural Center and

Botanical Garden in Staten Island offers

group travelers a garden experience mixed

with history, museums and theaters. The

gardens reflect different time periods and

cultures. The Chinese Scholar Garden, a

visitor favorite, embodies Chinese art and

philosophy through an arrangement of

shrubbery, rocks and ponds. Designed

after the Villa Gamberaia in Florence is the

Tuscan Garden, where topiaries, formal

water elements and a vineyard give tourists

a glance into Italian culture. Throughout the

year Snug Harbor hosts various events and

concerts. (718-448-2500, snug-harbor.org)

New York Botanical Gardens was

named by the New York Times a “New York

Masterpiece.” Located in the Bronx, NYBG

is recognized as a classical botanical garden

where plants are studied and exhibited. Its

250 acres contain over one million plants

in 50 gardens, including one of the most

beautiful rose gardens in the U.S. The Peggy

Rockefeller Rose Garden displays over 600

species of roses, which are in bloom six

months out of the year. Groups visiting

NYBG in spring will enjoy the lilacs and

tulips. Apart from flowers, guests can also

explore the native forest, comprised of trees

up to 200 years old, along the Bronx River.

(718-817-8700, nybg.org)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden features a

dozen gardens and several conservatories,

including the aquatic house and a bonsai


Read about some of the best

attractions and restaurants in New

York’s Broadway theater district. Log on to


museum. Entering the garden from the east

entrance, groups will be immersed in the

Osborne Garden’s spectrum of colors provided

by such flowers as azaleas, rhododendrons

and wisteria. Those visiting in April

and May get to experience the cherry trees

in full bloom. (718-623-7200, b bg.org)

Occupying the former estate of William

Robertson Coe, an insurance entrepreneur

and philanthropist, is the Planting Fields

Arboretum State Historic Park. Located

New York Botanical Gardens is one

of the Bronx’s hidden treasures.

in Long Island’s Oyster Bay, the park’s 409

acres consist of greenhouses, gardens and

miles of hiking trails. The Rhododendron

Collection features over a 1,000 types of

vintage and modern species. The Main

Greenhouse seasonally showcases poinsettias,

Easter lilies and chrysanthemums. Also

open to visitors is Coe Hall, the Coe family

home featuring an Elizabethan-style interior.

(516-922-9200, plantingfields.org)

The three-tiered Formal Italian Gardens

at Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic

Site in Hyde Park are a restoration of the

gardens built in the 1930s. The top level

consists of annual plants, the middle of

perennials and pool gardens and the lower

level, built by gardening enthusiast Frederick

Vanderbilt, features a variety of rose species.

In mid-spring, native trees such as dogwoods

and redbuds are in bloom. Guests

Beauty in the Bronx: New York Botanical Gardens

can enjoy views of the Hudson River and

tour the Vanderbilt Mansion. (845-229-9115,


Also in Hyde Park is the Rose Garden

at Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic

Site. Featuring 28 types of roses, the garden

is the burial site of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Groups can explore the grounds and

rose gardens or tour the FDR Presidential

Library and Museum. Guests are also invited

to visit FDR’s Top Cottage, the building he

purchased as a retreat from presidential

pressures. (800-337-8474, nps.gov/hofr)

In the Finger Lakes region of New York,

in the town of Canandaigua, is Sonnenberg

Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park.

Open from May through October the park

consists of nine formal gardens, each representing

different cultures and historical

eras. Included are Japanese, rose and Italian

gardens, plus a 20-acre arboretum and a

greenhouse. Built in 1887, the Sonnenberg

mansion is one of the few remaining Queen

Anne-style manors in the country.

(585-394-4922, sonnenberg.org)

The flora at the Buffalo and Erie County

Botanical Gardens is dispersed between

the Palm Dome and nine greenhouses. The

Palm Dome is a tri-domed Victorian conservatory

that was built in the 1890s and houses

such visitor favorites as the orchid room

and begonia room. Also in the garden is the

South Park Arboretum, where a collection of

tree species is showcased. (716-827-584,


These New York gardens give flower

lovers a chance to experience a kaleidoscope

of colors, sights and smells from a

vast array of vegetation. Each garden offers

tour groups a unique perspective on the

world of horticulture. LGT

Obtain New York

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


24 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Continued from page 22

Participating sights include the Empire State Building

Observatory, American Museum of Natural History (including

a space show in Hayden Planetarium), Metropolitan

Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art (just

a few blocks from Rockefeller Center). In addition,

CityPASS users can choose from either the Statue of

Liberty/Ellis Island ferry or Circle Line sightseeing cruise,

and either Top of the Rock or the Guggenheim Museum.


Besides theaters and bright lights, Times Square

abounds with fun stores and high-octane tourist attractions

like Madame Tussauds New York and Ripley’s Believe

It or Not! Shop for baseball souvenirs at the Yankee

Clubhouse or indulge your sweet tooth at the M&M and

Hershey stores. Keep your camera out at the Toys R Us

mega-store, with its indoor Ferris wheel, toy demonstrations,

and Empire State Building made with 180,000

Lego blocks.

Times Square and Midtown Manhattan, as any tour

organizer knows, packs in more than any group could

possibly see in a week, much less a few days. There’s no

business like show business, and no place like New York,

the heartbeat of America’s theater scene. LGT

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 25

on location: south ❖ dave bodle

Days of




In spring 1861 our nation and its

territories entered a four-year conflict

that would become the bloodiest

war in our history. Regardless of your

views on the causes of the Civil

War—slavery, state’s rights or a combination

of both—it remains our

country’s darkest moment.

The American Civil War took its

toll on the lives of our citizens, destroying

families and often pitching

brother against brother. Approximately

620,000, or 13 percent of the

nation’s men, perished in battle or

from disease. Countless others were

disabled and eventually died from

their wounds. The cost of the Civil

War in terms of human life exceeds

the total of the Revolutionary War,

War of 1812, Mexican American

War, Spanish American War, World

War One, World War Two, Korean

War and Vietnam War.

This year our nation will examine

the 150th anniversary of this tragic

event’s beginning and continue the

observance for four more years. Virtually

every state and American territory

were involved in the Civil War.

However, with a few notable exceptions

(Gettysburg and Antietam),

most of the battles were fought on

Confederate soil.

To varying degrees, every Southern

state will commemorate the war’s

sesquicentennial. Virginia will begin

its observance in July 2011 by remembering

the first major battle, the

First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run.

Richmond, Fredericksburg and the

In northwestern Georgia, the oldest Civil War

national military park recalls the 1863 Battle of

Chickamauga, the last major Confederate victory.

Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

A drummer boy receives instruction

at Shiloh battlefield in Tennessee.

Southern states

and tour organizers

are gearing up for the

150th anniversary

of the Civil War

Georgia Department of Economic Development

26 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Georgia Department of Economic Development

Explore POW issues at Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia.

Shenandoah Valley all played a significant

role in the conflict and have events

planned. West Virginia begins marking

major events culminating in the 1863

formation of the only state created as a

direct result of the war.

A new and expanded North Carolina

Civil War Trails map has just been

released. Included are the final steps of

Sherman’s March and General George

Stoneman’s raiders’ “Cold Mountain”

territory activities. Sherman also left his

destructive mark on Columbia, S.C.

The state capital was severely punished

for those first shots fired at Fort Sumter

in Charleston. Plantations along the

coast and the Rice Museum in Georgetown

depict why slave labor was necessary

to the South’s agrarian economy.

The Blue and Gray Trail takes visitors

through northwest Georgia from

Chattanooga to Atlanta and some of

the most dramatic events of the Civil

War. Here you’ll find the route for

“The Great Locomotive Chase” of

1862 and the site of the second largest

battle of the Civil War, the Battle of


In Arkansas the Hindman Hall Museum

at Prairie Grove Battlefield State

Park is scheduled to open this summer

after extensive renovations. When the

Confederates withdrew from the 1862

Battle of Prairie Grove, it was clear that

Missouri and northwest Arkansas

would remain in Union hands.

Though a slave state, Kentucky declined

to secede from the Union. Both

the Confederate and Union armies

considered Kentucky a must-have.

Kentucky was the birthplace of both

Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Tennessee, like an umbrella, protected

the Deep South states. Any invasion of

Georgia, Mississippi or Alabama had to

go through Tennessee. Second only to

Virginia in the number of battles fought

within her borders, Tennessee is rich in

Civil War history.

One of the turning points of the Civil

War was the siege and eventual loss of

Vicksburg, Miss. With the South divided,

no longer were blockade runners

able to get supplies west of the Mississippi

River to Confederate forces.

Corinth has the Civil War Interpretive

Center and the Contraband Camp, both

unlike any other Civil War attraction.

Although not the scene of any significant

military action, Alabama contributed

more than 120,000 men to

Confederate service—almost all of the

state’s white males capable of bearing

arms. The Union blockade of Mobile

Bay was devastating to both Alabama

and the Confederate cause.

For many tour operators, offering

Civil War themed product may be

challenging. Here are a few thoughts to

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 27

on location: south ❖

get us started: The first step is determine

if your clients are full-fledged

history junkies or just interested in

learning a little more about this important

chapter in American history. Is a

multi-day tour (campaign) the way to

go, or are we simply looking for a stop

on the way

Regarding the latter, it’s my thought

to add a piece of Civil War history

to every itinerary, where an

appropriate attraction exists. A

trip to Nashville might include

a visit to the Tennessee State

Museum and its impressive

display and explanation of the

Battle of Nashville. Likewise, a

tour to the Atlanta area would

include a visit to the Atlanta

Cyclorama & Civil War Museum.

Of course, a visit to Virginia

should absolutely include

a stop in Richmond and the

Virginia Historical Society.

Through Dec. 30, 2011, An American

Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia

will be on display.

Introducing a Civil War character to

your group can be both informative and

entertaining. In West Virginia, Rick

Garland does a great Gen. J.E.B. Stuart

as a step-on guide. In Gainesville, Ga.,

Joe Whitaker does group tours to sites

associated with Gen. James Longstreet.

The Ben Lomond House in Manassas,

Va., a Confederate hospital during the

West Virginia Department of Commerce/Steve Shaluta

John Brown Wax Museum in Harpers Ferry

chronicles the life of the famous abolitionist.

First Battle of Manassas, will provide

doctors and nurses to share their experiences.

Joseph McGill of the Charleston,

S.C. office of the National Trust for

Historic Preservation, has slept in numerous

slave quarters to bring to light

the plight of African-Americans prior to

the Civil War. His story is fascinating.

Virtually every Southern state is rich

with sites that mark both large and

small battles and trails filled with museums,

attractions and events. The place

to start is the state tourism offices.

Many have websites dedicated to the

Civil War Sesquicentennial. Local

DMOs can to provide specific profiles

on attractions and events in their area.

For groups whose interest is piqued

by events of historical significance, a

multi-day Civil War experience is certainly

a worthy product. The challenge

for tour operators is developing and refining

a tour that has not been a part of

their traditional offerings. There is so

much information available about the

American Civil War. How to wade

through that input and determine

what’s group-friendly is the question.

This writer’s recommendation is to

rely on professionals who have been

there, done that and already have the T-

shirt. I suggest using a receptive operator

or tour operator that is well versed

in the American Civil War. They’ve already

put a product together

and can customize with ease.

They’ll know if a re-enactment

at a battlefield is group-friendly.

They’ve worked with the storytellers

who portray period characters.

For years Stars and Stripes

Tours has been providing oneto

three-day tours of Gettysburg.

The itinerary is fine-tuned

and proven. From Abraham

Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg

Address to a soldier hosting

your campfire dinner and

sharing his feelings, you can be assured

your customers will have a memorable


Civil War Tours will help plan and

develop your tour and offer suggestions

on how to fill your coach. It is the only

company endorsed by the Civil War

Trails in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland,

North Carolina, West Virginia

and Kentucky.

“We’ll do so much more than simply

take you to a museum or battlefield,”

said Cathy Strite, president of Civil

War Tours. “Groups want to participate

in the experience.” Personal visits from

period characters, special dinners at

museums and sites, and guides with a

deep knowledge all contribute to a successful


Planning for the 150th anniversary

commemoration began in early 2009.

Many exhibits and events are taking

place as you read this article. Now is the

time to provide your clients with the

American Civil War experience. LGT

28 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: south ❖ dave bodle

New Reasons

to Travel South

Consider all the

new possibilities

for enhancing

your tours in the

Southern states

Check out Atlanta’s World of Coca-Cola, the reborn Gaylord Opryland and Myrtle Beach’s SkyWheel and Pirates Voyage.

From Ferris wheels high above and

coal mines down below to history,

art, culture and of course Elvis

and Dolly, there’s no place like the

South. With so many things to see and

do in the 11 Travel South states, you’ll

probably need to extend your group’s

stay. State by state, here are just a few

fresh options for 2011:


For the eighth time Alabama

Tourism has introduced a themed campaign

that covers the entire year. No

campaign could be more appropriate

than the one that celebrates Year of Alabama

Music. A brochure entitled “100

Places to Hear Live Music in Alabama,”

a website dedicated to all things

music, contests and events highlight

what’s shaping up to be a memorable


More than 200 live music venues

and 17 attractions are listed in the “100

Places” brochure. Log on to yearofalabamamusic.com

for the venues that

welcome groups. Plan your tour around

attractions like the Alabama Jazz Hall

of Fame in Birmingham, Dothan’s

Music Murals, Alabama Fan Club

and Museum, Hank Williams Museum

and Nat King Cole’s Home.

Alabama Tourism director Lee Sentell

said few things bring out the passion,

interest and devotion in people

like music. “Music provides a strong

emotional experience for most. Alabama

is excited to showcase our variety

of music, musical events and destinations.”


The Clinton Presidential Center

and Library in Little Rock will host a

Smithsonian traveling exhibition show-

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 29

Garvan Woodland Gardens,

Hot Springs

New penguin exhibit at Little Rock Zoo

Safari by school bus.

Take a trip to the wild side – from exciting zoological

exhibits to wildlife refuges and magical botanical gardens.

Find out more by visiting our website or calling the tollfree

number for itinerary ideas.

Get more information at


or by calling 1-800-872-1259

Turpentine Creek Wildlife

Refuge, Eureka Springs

See video on phone

with QR reader.

52 weeks in the year.

52 unique group destinations.

This could get interesting.

Looking for new group travel ideas

We’ve got 52 of ’em. The Arkansas State

Parks system has something for everyone –

archeology, adventure, history, mountains,

rivers and lakes – even the only diamond

site in the world where you can dig for

diamonds and keep what you find!

Historic Mather Lodge, Petit Jean State Park > Check out our 52 Arkansas State Parks today.

Spa City.

Hot Springs is famous for

natural thermal spas and

historic Bathhouse Row.

But with the South’s newest

gaming center, stunning

woodland gardens, delicious

dining and more – you can

call us whatever you like.

Visit hotsprings.org or call

1-800-922-6478 for your

Group Tour Planner now.

Bloom City.

Play City.


Make the high point of Arkansas

on location: south ❖

casing Elvis Presley on the threshhold

of stardom, Elvis at 21, June 4-Aug. 21,

2011. While in town catch the new

African penguins exhibit at the Little

Rock Zoo. View the penguins from

above and below the water. Kids have a

special crawl-through tunnel for an upclose

view. A visit to the state’s first legal

distiller, Rock Town Distillery, may

loosen up your group just enough to

take the new Haunted Tours of Little

Rock excursion.

In the Delta area at Jonesboro look

for the new $1.9-million, 20,000-

square-foot Plantation Park Music

Theater. The venue holds 1,200 with

another 500-seat balcony addition

planned. Country, gospel and bluegrass

music are featured every Saturday


In the Northwest section of the state



the Osage Creek Performing Arts

Center plans to open in summer 2011.

The 16,000-capacity music venue will

host five to seven major concerts and

festivals/events in season.

Expected to open this spring is the

renovated Walmart Visitor Center in

Bentonville. The approximate 20 percent

square footage increase will include

a new 32-seat theater, new

artifacts, touch tables and the Spark

Shop and Cafe.


In Atlanta, The World of Coca-

Cola will be adding 3,525 square feet

of exhibit space. The expansion will

allow more items to be displayed and

create a plaza for private functions and

events. In cooperation with AT&T the

Georgia Aquarium will be adding a

Book your next tour at Arkansas’s resort state park in

the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains. Here on scenic

DeGray Lake, resort amenities combine with outdoor

adventure including sunset lake cruises, swimming,

hiking, golf, tennis and nature programs.

One of four state park lodges.

major dolphin exhibit. Opening in early

April, Dolphin Tales will be the largest

expansion for the world’s largest aquarium.

The new addition will include a

viewing gallery, 25-foot-long underwater

viewing window, interactive displays

and a live theatrical show with dolphins

and actors.


For many years coal fueled homes

and businesses in this nation, and in

Eastern Kentucky coal was king. In

Lynch, visitors to Portal 31, an old

mine recently opened as an attraction,

can experience a day in the life of a fictional

coal miner as they ride a rail car

into the underground chambers where

immigrants from Italy and the British

Isles mined 130 tons of coal.

Jim Beam Distillery in Clermont,

makers of “the world’s finest bourbon,”

has opened a new section of

its visitor center. Just south of

Louisville, this state-of-the-art facility

highlights the company’s history

and offers a tasting of the

top-selling spirit. The multi-million-dollar

“Visitors Experience”

includes new displays of photos and

historical documents and a distillery

tour. The center’s three-year

renovation project will be completed

in 2012.

MEGA Cavern is Louisville’s

newest tourist adventure. Tram

tours highlight the history and

splendor of the natural cave, a constant

60 degrees. The cavern’s

“Lights Under Louisville” holiday

display placed ninth in Best Christmas

Light Shows compiled by the

website America’s Best & Top 10.

Positioned as “8 Blocks of Villany,”

the Newport Gangster Tour

shares the seedy side of what was at

one time called “Sin City.” Time

Magazine noted its “gaudy brand of

gambling and prostitution,” and

camera shy.





Plus Williamsburg & Virginia Beach


the Civil War


on location: south ❖

Bobby Kennedy in his run for president

promised “he’d clean that place up” if he

won. Tales of the crime figures and

movie stars who made their way to this

notorious destination make an entertaining

history lesson. Private tours are

available year round.


Considered to be the definitive hurricane

exhibition, Living with Hurricanes:

Katrina and Beyond is a 6,700-

square-foot interactive multimedia exhibition

at the Louisiana State Museum

in New Orleans. To aid visitors

in understanding Katrina’s impact on

Louisiana, the Gulf Coast and the

nation, the exhibition combines contemporary

accounts, historical contexts,

immersive environments and in-depth

scientific exploration.

St. Landry Parish in South-Central

Louisiana has a new, state-of-the-art







Exhibit Open




August 2011 – June 2012

You won’t want






examining instrumentalist and recording

artist, Chet Atkins. Learn how he influenced

generations of country, rock, and jazz

guitarists with a smooth finger-picking style

that earned him the nickname “Mr. Guitar.”









222 5th Ave. South

Downtown Nashville, TN


Country Music Hall of Fame ® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, Inc.,

a section 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964.

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Text ATLevents to 62447 to receive special offers

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on location: south ❖

visitors center. It is one of the first centers

in the South to focus on sustainability

and green construction. Building

materials salvaged during construction

will be used by local artists to create art

to be exhibited in the center. Also in St.

Landry Parish, the Bayou Teche Paddle

Trail will open this fall. Groups with

a taste for the outdoors will see lush native

plants and wildlife along the way.


Mississippi will honor the 50th anniversary

of the Freedom Riders and

Freedom Summer 1961, a pivotal part

of the civil rights movement. Official

activities begin May 22. More than 125

original Freedom Riders are slated to


Two of the state’s most famous native

sons, bluesman Robert Johnson

and playwright Tennessee Williams,

The new Mint Museum Uptown has brightened Charlotte’s cultural scene.

will observe centennial birthdays this

year. Throughout the state and primarily

in the Mississippi Delta region,

Johnson’s May 8 birthday will be celebrated.

Clarksdale will host the annual

Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams

Festival Oct. 14-15.


Charlotte will be welcoming the long

overdue arrival of US Airways Flight

1549, the plane that made the “miracle”

landing on New York’s Hudson River.

The famous aircraft will find a home

at the Carolinas Aviation Museum.

More to love

in Orlando



Enjoy extra space, amenities

and vacation value at

Sheraton Vistana Resort or

Sheraton Vistana Villages

in Orlando, Florida.

Villas sleep four to eight adults

and feature:

Plus, receive 500 Starpoints ® from

the Starwood Preferred Guest ® program

for group reservations with signed

contract by December 31, 2011.

Restrictions apply.

Sheraton Vistana Resort

Orlando, Florida

Sheraton Vistana Villages

Orlando, Florida


Villa and resort features and amenities may vary by location. Furnishings may vary.

©2011 Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Starwood Vacation Ownership, Preferred Guest, SPG, Starpoints, Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Méridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Westin and their respective logos are the

trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. 11-OOC-0012

36 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Experience the splendor of















Engage your group with itineraries for exploring the history, nature, cuisine

and culture of Hilton Head Island, Bluffton and Daufuskie Island.

Gullah Heritage • Civil War • Lowcountry Cuisine • Arts & Crafts • Shopping & Dining

Kayaking for the Novice • Sea Island Turtle Nesting

Easy to reach day trips feature Savannah, Beaufort and Charleston.

Learn more at HiltonHeadIsland.org










Contact Brenda Ciapanna, Sales Manager, Visitor & Convention Bureau, grouptour@hiltonheadisland.org, 800.523.3373 ext. 368

Where time measured is not

by a clock.

Where you bring luggage

but lose baggage.

Where every visit creates

lasting memories

Motorcoach travelers know that Pigeon Forge is the perfect place

to make memories. Could be because there’s so much to see and do

here… shopping, shows, Dollywood ® or the majestic beauty of our

Smoky Mountains. Or it could be that warm welcome they receive,

kind of like visiting an old friend. Whatever the reason, they know

that every visit creates memories that will last a lifetime.



Where the

is s always GP set to fun.


38 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

In Wilmington the Riverfront

Convention Center has opened and is

within walking distance of hotels,

restaurants and shopping. The center is

located across the river from the Battleship

North Carolina. Commissioned

in 1941, she took part in every

Pacific naval offensive, earning 15 battle

stars. The memorial to WWII veterans

will celebrate her golden

anniversary with year-long activities.

Art is a common thread in three

major North Carolina cities. In Raleigh,

N.C. Museum of Art’s East Building

has reopened with American Chronicles:

The Art of Norman Rockwell. The Milton

Rhodes Center for the Arts has

debuted in Winston-Salem, featuring

visual art, music, theater, film and

dance. Charlotte’s new Mint Museum

Uptown brings the Mint Museum of

Art and Mint Museum of Craft + Design

under one roof, doubling the permanent

collection. The Charlotte

institution celebrates its 75th anniversary

this year.

and restored four original slave cabins,

each reflecting a different period of

African experience on the plantation.

Boone Hall Plantation and Gardens

has opened a new exhibit telling the

African-American story through a range

of audio-visual presentations.

A new Mast General Store is

coming to the heart of downtown

Columbia, joining a vibrant gallery

and music scene in South Carolina’s

capital. The city’s Nickelodeon independent

movie theater has moved into

the old Fox Theatre.

South of the Border in Dillon has

opened a new Reptile Lagoon, billed as

the “largest indoor reptile exhibit in the

United States.” The City of Gaffney

has a new visitor center and art gallery

in the circa-1913 former post office

building. In Greenwood the Benjamin

E. Mays Historic Site is now open and

shares the story of a son of a sharecropper

who went on to become the

longtime president of Morehouse College

in Atlanta.


In Myrtle Beach a new Ferris wheel

will rise 18 stories above the new

boardwalk. Starting in May, riders on

SkyWheel Myrtle Beach will enjoy

great views from enclosed, climate-controlled

gondolas. Legends In Concert

has moved to Broadway at the Beach

adjacent to Planet Hollywood. A brand

new show, Stars in Concert at Celebration

Music Theatre, now occupies

the former Legends building in Surfside

Beach. WonderWorks will make

its South Carolina debut this spring at

Broadway at the Beach. After 19 years

country music star Dolly Parton is

going pirate. Completely renovating the

Dixie Stampede, she opens her new Pirates

Voyage dinner show this spring.

The South Carolina Aquarium in

Charleston opens its new 4-D Theatre

this year, allowing visitors to get

closer to the wind, waves and water.

Magnolia Plantation has preserved

A friendly city

that’ll really get your wheels turning.

In Norfolk, there’s always something to

celebrate. With hundreds of waterfront

festivals, the fun never stops. To plan your

itinerary, visit us online or contact Melissa

Hopper, Associate Director of Tour & Travel.

visitnorfolktoday.com | 1-800-368-3097


on location: south ❖


In Memphis this year, Elvis Presley’s

Graceland unveils The Roots of

Elvis, highlighting Elvis’ early years

and the influences that shaped him,

and Elvis in the News, which explores

how Elvis challenged the boundaries of


One of Tennessee’s oldest homes,

the Nell House, has been relocated and

restored at Casey Jones Village in Jackson.

Citizens of Trenton gathered on

Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland gleams

anew after renovations prompted by

damage from last year’s flood.

the roof to watch the Civil War battle

of Trenton unfold. Groups are still welcome

for special events and tours. Also

opening this year is the 100-year-old,

fully restored Brown’s Creek Primitive

Baptist Church.

The newly restored and renovated

Gaylord Opryland reopened only 195

days after Nashville’s May 2010 flood.

New restaurants and redesigned lobbies,

guest rooms and suites await travelers.

The show must go on and in true

fashion the Grand Ole Opry never

missed a performance during its

restoration. Completion will be in time

to re-enter the Opry House for the

show’s 85th birthday celebration in October.

In White Creek the Fontanel

Mansion & Farm, former home of

Barbara Mandrell, is now open.

Following the receipt of the

2010 Applause Award, the most

prestigious award in the theme park

industry, Dollywood will debut the

$5.5-million Barnstormer ride in

2011. The recently opened Ole

Smokey Distillery offers free tours

and moonshine for sale.

One of the most significant archaeological

sites east of the Mississippi

River, Gray Fossil Site and

Museum in Johnson City, is undergoing

a $2-million expansion. The

already interactive museum will feature

two outdoor classrooms, a wet

lab and cafe in its 7,000-square-foot


Throughout 2011 the Tennessee

Valley Railroad in Chattanooga will

be offering special events and allday

excursions celebrating its 50th



In the western region of the

state, Shenandoah National Park

and its main artery, Skyline Drive,

will be celebrating their 75th anniversary.

Speaking of anniversaries, the Citie

of Henricus, just south of Richmond,

will be celebrating its 400th. Established

in 1611, Henricus was the second

successful English settlement in

the New World. Special programs will

be presented throughout 2011.

In Williamsburg, Busch Gardens

will be adding its tallest ride yet. Mach

Tower will lift up to 30 riders 246 feet,

rotate the platform 360 degrees and

then drop at speeds of up to 60 miles

an hour.

With almost 180 wineries already,

Virginia will add three more in 2011.

Glass House Winery, a boutique winery,

is part of the popular Monticello

Wine Trail. Granite Heights Vineyard

(near Warrenton) will produce jams and

honey along with wine. Saude Creek

Winery near Williamsburg sits on the

site of a colonial tavern. George Washington

is said to have quenched his

thirst there. We’re not sure if he spent

the night.


West Virginia invites you to bring

your appetite in 2011. After dinner,

plan to visit Morgantown’s new event

center and home to the West Virginia

Public Theatre.

Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad has

added a gourmet dinner service aboard

the Mountain Explorer Dinner Train.

Trips depart Elkin for a scenic fivehour

adventure on selected dates from

June through October. Tamarack (The

Best of West Virginia) has added culinary

demonstrations from the worldrenowned

chefs from The Greenbrier.

For more than 100 years The

Blennerhassett, a member of Historic

Hotels of America, has been welcoming

guests to its Parkersburg front door.

Now the grand hotel is extending the

delights of its culinary school to group

travelers. The Culinary School at The

Blennerhassett Hotel provides numerous

options for all skill levels.

With so many places to explore and

new things to do, no wonder the South

is such a premier destination for groups.

For information on each of the 11 Travel

South states, go to travelsouth.com. LGT

40 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: midwest ❖ randy mink

Idyllic Main Street communities filled

with craft and gift shops....heaping

helpings of fried chicken and freshbaked

bread....Clip-clopping horse buggies

clattering down country roads

where Amish farm families have lived

the simple life for generations.

Northern Indiana’s Amish Country

seems to be custom-made for group

tours, offering hearty meals, fun shopping

and loads of nostalgia. But since

2008 the patchwork of small towns has

been stitching together another crowdpleaser—the

Quilt Gardens Tour.

Designated an American Bus Association

Top 100 Event for the third year

in a row, the driving tour is one of a

kind. Though the Quilt Gardens Tour

spotlights a wide variety of gardens, it’s

hardly your garden variety tour. There’s

nothing like it anywhere else.

From Memorial Day to Oct. 1, seven

communities will be showing off 18 all

new gardens patterned after Amish and

contemporary quilt designs. The patchwork

quilt, perhaps more than anything

else, symbolizes Amish craftsmanship.

In addition to large gardens featuring

a total of 100,000-plus blooms, the tour

features 18 super-sized quilt murals at

12 locations, many at garden sites. It follows

Elkhart County’s 90-mile, selfguided

Heritage Trail Driving Tour.

“The Quilt Gardens along the Heritage

Trail is a boon for tour operators

looking to reach new audiences—people

who may never have considered taking a

group tour, people who share a common

interest,” said Sonya Nash, CTP, travel

trade manager of the Elkhart County

Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It’s not

the cookie cutter group experience. It’s a


See Randy Mink’s article on four

of Indiana Amish Country’s best

heritage attractions. Log on to http://leisuregrouptravel.com/p=22875.

Quilts in


Color-splashed displays of floral artistry

blanket Northern Indiana’s Amish Country

The quilt garden is a special treat for shoppers at the Old Bag Factory in

Goshen (above), a former factory filled with antique, art and craft shops.

platform for like-minded people to

come together and have a terrific time

pursuing their passion for hobbies such

as gardening, quilting or photography.

And just as the gardens are all different,

the Quilt Gardens experience allows

each tour to be different from the rest,

tailored to meet special wants.”

The Quilt Gardens Tour has sparked

tourism in this part of Indiana, a rural

area only two hours east of Chicago and

not far from the Michigan border. Karleen

Richter, of Elkhart-based Down the

Road Tours, says the flower displays have

brought buses into communities like

Wakarusa, where groups not only see the

quilt garden and mural but also visit the

old-fashioned dime and hardware stores.

Now in its fourth year, the Quilt

Gardens Tour continues to blossom as

communities recognize its pulling power.

Hand-painted outdoor murals are part

of the Quilt Gardens Tour.

Richter said, “More people are getting

on the bandwagon—they know it’s

bringing people in the door.”

Richter’s Down the Road Tours is a

receptive operator that offers tours and

step-on service. Tour members get out

42 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

and walk to the gardens or just admire

them from the bus. In order for travelers

to view the patterns, gardens must

be planted on a slant, not flat.

These official quilt gardens must

meet other standards set by a committee,

which approves all designs. Gardens

have to be a minimum size, accessible to

the public and be maintained all season.

The flowers, all annuals that start from

seed at local nurseries, range from petunias

and zinnias to marigolds and

dahlias; 80 percent of the space must be

live plant material. Volunteers are responsible

for planting and upkeep. Admission

to all gardens is free.

Richter said the gardens “are looking

really pretty by the end of June,”

with the peak period late July and early

August. Her guides tell the story of

each garden’s design and who planted

it. A sign at the garden has the same


Most of the gardens are located at

points of tourist interest, such as Amish

Acres in Nappanee, an historic Amish

farmstead with exhibits, a theater, shops

and a restaurant. Another is in Middlebury

at Das Dutchman Essenhaus dining/shopping/lodging

complex, where

The Quilt Shop offers hands-on classes

for tour groups. Das Dutchman Essenhaus,

Indiana’s largest family-style restaurant,

serves all-you-can-eat, Amish-style

feasts and has a must-visit bakery. Krider

Garden in Middlebury, started by a man

who developed a thornless rose, boasts

structures and plantings from the 1933

Chicago World’s Fair.

In Shipshewana, Menno-Hof, a

barn-like museum that tells the story of

the Amish and Mennonites, features a

quilt garden and mural. On Tuesdays

and Wednesdays from May through

October, tour groups can explore the


Shipshewana Flea Market, the Midwest’s

largest flea market.

At the Old Bag Factory in Goshen,

a bag factory turned artisan shopping

mecca, groups visit the log cabin shop

of Quilt Designs, where Dave and

Shirley Shenk can give a talk on the art

of quilting. Shirley designs the adjacent

quilt garden and mural.

The new “Whirlwind Flag” quilt

garden at the Elkhart County Courthouse

in downtown Goshen gives

Tour members admire the quilt garden

in downtown Elkhart’s Central Park.

groups a chance to browse along Main

Street and pop into shops and cafes.

Across from the courthouse, a red-andwhite-striped

awning marks the

Olympia Soda Shop, an old-fashioned

soda fountain complete with counter

and straight-backed wooden booths.

Attractions with quilt gardens in the

city of Elkhart include Ruthmere, a

1910 mansion, and Wellfleet Botanic

Gardens, a landscaped city park on the

site of a former water treatment plant.

Linton’s Enchanted Gardens is a garden

shop with a quilt garden and themed

display gardens. Classes in landscaping,

garden care and flower arranging are

available for groups.

In Bristol groups can see the new

“Flower Basket” quilt garden at the

Elkhart County Historical Museum,

then tour the museum, have a catered

box lunch, and enjoy the “Stitches of

Devotion” hands-on quilt program and

a presentation by professional storytellers.

The Elkhart County CVB has suggested

quilt- and garden-themed itineraries

for groups. The three-night “Quilt

Gardens along the Heritage Trail” features

gardens and murals, shopping

stops, meetings with quilt experts,

quilting and pretzel-making lessons, a

theater performance and dinner with a

cooking class on an Amish farm.

Offering a palette of colors and

palate-pleasing meals, Northern Indiana’s

Amish Country is as cozy and

comforting as snuggling under a country

quilt. For tour planners, bringing groups

there can easily become a pattern.

For information, contact the Elkhart

County CVB, 800-262-8161, quiltgardenstour.com

or amishcountrytours.org.

Email: sonya@amishcountry.org. LGT

Obtain Indiana

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 43

and Brown Water, How Do They Do

That: God and Orla Fallon. (612-377-

2224, guthrietheater.org).

The Ordway Center for the Performing

Arts in Saint Paul opened in

1985 after serving purely as an opera

house for five years. Today it offers a

wide array of events. Spring 2011 shows

include the percussive dance extravaganza

Stomp and a performance by the

Beijing Modern Dance Company.

(651-224-4222, ordway.org).

The Orpheum Theatre in Minon

location: midwest ❖ emily k. weber



In addition to natural splendor, the state offers groups a thriving arts scene

The cast of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile makes a toast at the Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, Minnesota.

When visiting Minnesota, groups

have the opportunity to experience

some of the finest singing, dance

and theater productions in the country.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul boasts more

theater seats per capita than any other

U.S. city outside New York.

The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis

is a Tony Award winner that

has received recognition for theater

performance, production, education

and professional training. The nationally

acclaimed repertory theater made

its debut in 1963. In 2006 a new stateof-the-art

building was constructed

along the Mississippi River housing

three different theaters with cumulative

seating for 1,999 guests. Unique

features include a thrust stage, a blackbox

studio and a 178-foot cantilevered

bridge. Private backstage tours are

available for groups of 15 people or

more. Tours with an architecture focus

can be booked. Live performances this

season include Heaven, Arms and the

Man, Arsenic and Old Lace, In the Red

44 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

The Guthrie Theater is one of Minneapolis’ cultural gems.

neapolis, dating from 1921, was originally a vaudeville house

called the Hennepin. Some of the first performers included

the Marx Brothers, who drew more than 70,000 guests. In

1927 the Orpheum was transformed into a cinema house and

in 1959 it began to bring in Broadway touring productions.

The 2,600-seat theater underwent extensive renovations in

1993 and is recognized for its ornate design. The interior,

done in deep Victorian colors, is highlighted by a 2,000-

pound chandelier made from brass and Italian crystal. 2011

productions include Madagascar Live!, Jersey Boys, Wicked,

Rock of Ages, Billy Elliot and Hair. (612-339-7007, hennepintheatretrust.org).

The State Theatre in Minneapolis was considered the

most technologically advanced theater in the United States

when it opened in 1921. Until 1973, the theater was primarily

used as a movie house and in 1989 it was purchased by



Create unforgettable Minnesota experiences! Walk across the Headwaters

of the Mississippi River. Gaze out over shimmering Lake Superior. Drive, hike

or bike on numerous trails along lush river bluffs, native prairies, and 20+

Scenic Byways. Pick a festival for music, food, and fun! Discover professional

theaters, star-studded concerts, art galleries and museums. For itinerary

ideas visit exploreminnesota.com, traveltrade.exploreminnesota.com or call

1-888-VISIT-MN (1-888-847-4866).


LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 45

on location: midwest ❖

the Minneapolis Community Development

Agency, which sparked a twoyear

renovation. The State Theatre

hosts Broadway productions such as

Avenue Q and Sweeney Todd. (612-339-

7007, hennepintheatretrust.org).

Chanhassen Dinner Theatres in

Chanhassen, a Twin Cities suburb, is a

three-theater venue that allows people

to take part in a quality dining experience

while enjoying popular mainstream

productions. It is the largest

professional dinner theater in the nation

and the largest privately owned

restaurant in Minnesota. More than

200 plays have been produced and

shown in front of more than 10 million

guests since 1968. 2011 shows include

Jesus Christ Superstar, I Do! I Do!

and Hairspray. (952-934-1525 or 800-

362-3515, chanhassentheatres.com).

Commonweal Theatre Company

in Lanesboro hosts six productions

from April until December that range

from classic to contemporary and

newly developed productions. Because

of the community’s significant Scandinavian

population, Commonweal consciously

produces works by Henrik

Ibsen, a popular 19th century Norwegian

playwright. Spring 2011 performances

include An Enemy of the People

and Sylvia with summer performances

including Little Shop of Horrors and

To Kill a Mockingbird. (800-657-7025,


Obtain Minnesota

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


Great River Shakespeare Festival

at Winona State University will take

place from June 22 through July 31,

2011 and showcase Shakespeare’s A

Midsummer Night’s Dream as well as

Henry IV, Part 1 and an American musical

favorite, The Fantastics. (507-474-

7900, grsf.org).

Whether your groups are headed

to the Twin Cities or beyond, they’ll

find plenty of reasons to applaud

the entertainment included in their

itinerary. LGT


For more Minnesota theater options,

see the article at http://leisuregrouptravel.com/p=22871.

Also see the

Minnesota Gardens feature at http://leisuregrouptravel.com/p=22980

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on location: midwest ❖ nancy wolens

n Jan. 29, Kansas celebrated 150 years

of statehood. It was that day in 1861

when Kansas entered the Union as

the 34th state. By this time the territory

had already been through the trials

and tribulations of Bleeding

Kansas, a course of violent incidents

involving anti-slavery activists and

pro-slavery advocates. At issue was

whether Kansas would enter the

Union as a free or slave state; the violence

foreshadowed the Civil War.

Throughout 2011 Kansas will

hold a myriad of sesquicentennial

events to honor its statehood. In addition,

the Sunflower State will remember

its struggles and triumphs

during the Civil War because 2011

also is the sesquicentennial of the start

of the four-year conflict that ripped

apart a nation. Following is just a

sampling of historical sites and events

that may enhance group itineraries:

Civil War on the Western Frontier,

Lawrence, Aug. 12-21: Every

year Lawrence hosts Civil War on the

Western Frontier, a series of events

held around the anniversary of

Quantrill’s Raid. On Aug. 21, 1863,

as the conflict over slavery continued,

Confederate guerrilla William

Quantrill and his raiders attacked

Lawrence, killing hundreds and destroying

the city. After the raid,

Lawrence residents came together

to bury their dead and rebuild the

city. This year Lawrence will again

commemorate its Civil War history

through presentations, lectures and

exhibits throughout Lawrence and

Douglas County. The Lawrence Visitor

Center presents “Lawrence: Free

State Fortress,” a 25-minute docudrama

about Lawrence’s part in Bleeding

Kansas and the Civil War.

(785-865-4499, visitlawrence.com)


Looks Back

Civil War days in Kansas come alive

during reenactments at Fort Scott.

48 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Obtain Kansas

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


John Brown Museum, Osawatomie:

At the John Brown Museum visitors

can tour the cabin of Rev. Samuel

Adair and his wife Florella, half-sister

of abolitionist John Brown. The cabin

was a station on the Underground

Railroad as well as John Brown’s headquarters.

It’s furnished with Adair family

belongings and has an assortment of

Civil War weapons and items that tell

the story of pioneer life and the 1856

Battle of Osawatomie. The cabin survived

the battle, one of the largest battles

in a series of events known as

Bleeding Kansas. The battle matched

John Brown and his army against John

Reid’s pro-slavery militia. On Sept. 17-

18 the museum will host the Freedom

Festival, a historical event with firstperson

narratives, a reenactment of the

Battle of Osawatomie, period craft

demonstrations, modern military displays

and live music. (913-755-4384,


Black Jack Battlefield Park,

Wellsville: On June 2, 1856 anti-slavery

activist John Brown led his mercenaries

to attack a pro-slavery militia

along the Santa Fe Trail in the Kansas

Territory. This combat is known as the

Fort Scott National Historic Site preserves frontier military history.

Battle of Black Jack. Black Jack Battlefield

Park offers tours that examine the

territory bordering the battlefield as well

as the function of the Santa Fe Trail. In

honor of Kansas’ 150 years of statehood

the park will stage a battle reenactment

on June 2-4. (785-883-2106, blackjackbattlefield.org)

Kansas Museum of History,

Topeka: One of the main exhibits focuses

on the Civil War. Artifacts include

John Brown’s pike, the actual knife-like

weapon John Brown used in his fight

against slavery, and the original sword

and equipment from James Gillpatrick

Blunt, free-state advocate and brigadier

general in the Civil War. In the special

exhibits gallery this year, the 150 Things

I Love About Kansas will feature 150

objects, images and documents that

salute the state’s rich history over the

past century and a half. (785-272-8681,


Constitution Hall, Lecompton:

Visitors will be enlightened about the

political struggles Kansas had in the

1850s. One of the more momentous

occasions occurred in 1857 when the

Lecompton Constitutional Government

assembled in a second floor room and

drafted a pro-slavery constitution as

free-state and anti-slavery activists rallied

outside the building. Guests can see

the Lecompton Constitution and peruse

various exhibits on the Kansas territorial

government as well as free-state

and pro-slavery factions. (785-887-6520,


Mine Creek Battlefield, Pleasanton:

On Oct. 25, 1864, about 2,800

Union troops invaded and overthrew

about 8,000 Confederates along the

banks of Mine Creek. This was one of

the largest artillery battles in the Civil

War. Visitors can walk the 2.6-mile trail

through the battlefield and then peruse

exhibits. (913-352-8899, kshs.org/portal_mine_creek)

Fort Scott National Historic Site,

Fort Scott: Established by the U.S.

Army from 1842-1853, Fort Scott is

yet another attraction where visitors

are immersed in the history of Bleeding

Kansas and the Civil War. The site

hosts living history presentations and

reenactments of military training

activities. (620-223-0310, nps.gov/-

fosc) LGT

Civil War itineraries in Kansas might include Black Jack Battlefield Park.


Read Nancy Wolens’ article on

Kansas’ Frontier Military Scenic

Byway. Log on to http://leisuregrouptravel-


LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 49

Planners organizing group tours will find

many new itinerary brighteners in the region


on our radar

Take a look at what’s happening in the Midwest:


The Field Museum in Chicago

presents Whales: Giants of the Deep,

an exhibition running from May 20,

2011, through Jan. 16, 2012. It will

feature fully articulated whale skeletons,

hands-on activities, videos, and

the latest findings in whale biology and

evolution. Organized by the Museum

of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,

the exhibition will show how whales

have influenced the indigenous peoples

of the South Pacific. On display will

be a pataka taonga (storehouse of treasures)

carved with whale-like images

and filled with adornments and

weapons made of whale bone and teeth

from places such as New Zealand and

Fiji. (888-343-5385, fieldmuseum.org)

By fall of 2012, “The Block,” a

Field Museum visitors will see

a replica of a blue whale’s heart.

downtown Peoria construction site once

occupied by a Sears store, will be a parklike

cultural campus anchored by the

Peoria Riverfront Museum and Caterpillar

Experience. The latter attraction

50 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

will present a high-tech, interactive look

at the past, present and future of Peoriabased

Caterpillar, Inc., the world’s leading

manufacturer of construction and

mining equipment, diesel and natural

gas engines, and industrial gas turbines.

The Peoria Riverfront Museum will feature

regional history and art exhibits,

the Illinois River Encounter gallery, a

3-D IMAX theater and planetarium. A

partner in the project is Peoria’s Lakeview

Museum, the largest private museum

in Illinois outside of Chicago and

one of fewer than 50 U.S. museums

specializing in both the arts and sciences.

Other partners include the African

American Hall of Fame Museum and

Illinois High School Association, which

is developing a center that will explore

student and team achievements around

the state. (buildtheblock.org, peoria.org)

prison at night. Before it closed, MSP,

which opened in 1836, was the oldest

continually operating penitentiary west

of the Mississippi. It housed inmates

such as heavyweight champion Sonny

Liston, who learned to box during his

time in the big house, notorious gangster

“Pretty Boy” Floyd and James Earl

Ray. Tours include the gas chamber

where 40 men and women were executed,

the buried cells, several housing

units and the upper yard. In 1967 the

Missouri State Penitentiary was named

the “bloodiest 47 acres in America”

by Time magazine because of the high

number of serious assaults on the

grounds between 1963-1964. (866-

998-6998, missouripentours.com)


The first phase of Horseshoe Casino

Cleveland, the first full-service casino

in Ohio, will open in early 2012 in the

historic Higbee department store build-


The booming Village West area in

Kansas City, Kan. will welcome its first

casino in early 2012. A joint venture

between Kansas Speedway and Penn

National Gaming, the initial phase of

the new Hollywood Casino Kansas

Speedway at Turn 2 will include a

100,000-square-foot gaming floor with

2,300 slot machines and 86 table

games. Additional phases include a

300-room hotel, a spa, convention

center and an entertainment district.

Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway

will be located at the intersection of

I-435 and I-70, next to Legends,

Nebraska Furniture Mart and Cabela’s.



The Jefferson City Convention and

Visitors Bureau is expanding the tour

program at Missouri State Penitentiary

(MSP) to include twilight, specialty

history, photography and ghost tours,

in addition to the two-hour historic

tour and a four-hour in-depth tour.

Participants on twilight tours will be

given a lantern in order to navigate the

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 51





Civil War Days at The Grove

JULY 23 & 24, 2011

Step back and re-live scenes from the War between

the States at this annual historical re-enactment.

Scenes and activities may include:

• Authentic Union and Confederate encampments

• Ladies’ Bath House

• Blue vs. Gray skirmishes at 2 p.m. each day

• Visit the field hospital

• Refreshments at the Camp KitchenShop at the

Suttler’s for Civil War era articles

• Meet President Lincoln, General Grant

and Jefferson Davis


Candle Light Civil War Camp Tours

JULY 2011

Experience first hand what life was like in a Civil War

camp as our Civil War re-enactors take you on a

candle light tour of the Confederate and Union

Camps during our Civil War Living History Days.

Pre-registration required.

The Grove National Historic Landmark

1421 Milwaukee Ave, Glenview, IL 60025

(847) 299-6096

Overnight Accommodations at the

Wyndham Glenview Suites (847) 803-9800

special rate $89

on our radar: midwest ❖

ing on Public Square at Tower City

Center, adjacent to the city’s entertainment

district. The $350-million temporary

casino precedes a $600-million

permanent casino, expected to be completed

in 2013. The Phase II casino

will overlook the Cuyahoga River.

The temporary casino, occupying four

floors, will feature about 2,100 slot

machines, 65 table games and a World

Series of Poker room, plus a food court,

buffet restaurant and bar with entertainment.

Casinos in Cincinnati, Toledo

and Columbus are expected to open

later in 2012. Ohio voters in 2009

approved a constitutional amendment

authorizing casinos in the state’s four

largest cities. (horsehoe.com)

The first phase of the Greater

Cleveland Aquarium will open this

fall in the historic Powerhouse on the

west bank of the Flats in downtown

Cleveland. It will feature an 800,000-

gallon main tank with a 250-foot-long

52 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Providing an evocative setting for

visitors, the traveling exhibition will

combine film footage of the garden and

music with such features as water, wind

and birdsong. The Milwaukee Museum

of Art’s “Summer of China” celebration

will include additional exhibitions of

Chinese art. (414-224-3842, mam.org)

The Harley-Davidson Museum

in Milwaukee is going deep into its

archives this summer to present

Collection X: Weird Wild Wonders of

the Harley-Davidson Museum, which

will run June 11 through Aug. 21.

The exhibit will showcase an array of

treasures from the H-D archives, from

secret prototypes and fantastic folk-art

creations to “what were they thinking”

contraptions. Visitors will see hundreds

of items that include one-of-a-kind

vehicles, clothing, artwork, photos,

and some of the rarest and weirdest of

collectibles. (877-436-8738, h-dmuseum.com)

The Milwaukee Art Museum features

rare Chinese treasures this summer.

viewing tunnel, plus 10 exhibition

areas, including one exhibit inside a

60-foot-high chimney. The $33-million

attraction will be the first aquarium

development in the U.S. by New

Zealand’s Marinescape, the world’s

leading developer of walk-through

aquariums. Design work for a $40-

million second phase has begun and

includes a series of glass atriums along

the Cuyahoga River with exhibits

on rivers and oceans of the world.



The Milwaukee Museum of Art

this summer will present the exhibition

The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures

from the Forbidden City, a collection of

more than 90 artifacts from the Qianlong

Garden in Beijing. It begins June

11 and runs through Sept. 11.

The Qianlong Garden, a walled,

two-acre jewel in the immense Forbidden

City complex, was built in the

18th century as part of the Qianlong

Emperor’s 12-acre retreat. Most of

the murals, wall coverings, paintings,

furniture, jades, cloisonné and other

objects—to be on display at only three

museums worldwide—have never been

seen by the public. When they return

to Beijing, they not likely will leave

the country again.


Once your group discovers the thrilling attractions and versatile accommodations Wisconsin Dells has

to offer, there’s one thing you’ll all be able to agree on – “The Waterpark Capital of the World! ® ” is THE

place for group tours. groups@wisdells.com | (800) 223-3557


LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 53

on location: west ❖ sue arko

Brett Shoaf/Artistic Visuals

Lushly landscaped Balboa Park, in the heart of San Diego, abounds with specialty gardens and cultural attractions.

The warm Mediterranean climate,

lingering fog and maritime breezes

are perfect for plant growth from

all around the world. Tour groups

searching for outdoor garden experiences,

from native to creative, will find

what they are looking for in California.

Beginning in the northern part of

the state, San Francisco is the home of

Golden Gate Park, encompassing more

than 1,000 acres. It is larger than New

York City’s Central Park and borders

the Pacific Ocean. Like Central Park, it

is an expansive, approachable and welcome

escape from the traffic and congestion

of the city. Among park

attractions, the Japanese Tea Garden,

San Francisco Botanical Garden and

Conservatory of Flowers are favorites of

tour groups.

The Japanese Tea Garden, the oldest

public Japanese gardens in California,

was created by Baron Makoto Hagiwara

for the Mid-Winter Exhibition of 1894.

On four acres densely packed with water

features, groups experience an intense

awakening of the senses with the sounds

In early spring, wisteria frames

The Huntington’s Japanese Garden.

©e Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

of an azalea-covered waterfall, sights of

decorative lanterns and statues, and

sweet smell of wisteria and other fragrant


A kaleidoscope of colors and scents

welcomes visitors to the San Francisco

Botanical Garden (formerly known as

Strybing Arboretum). Displaying more

than 7,500 varieties of flora from around

the world, the 55-acre garden is divided

into four sections.

The Conservatory of Flowers in

Golden Gate Park is the oldest remaining

municipal wooden conservatory in

the United States. It features exoticlooking

blooms, a tropical area, a water

lily garden and a rotating collection of

potted plants. The distinctive Victorian

architecture and colorful history have

earned the conservatory a place on the

National Register of Historic Places.

Los Angeles County Arboretum

and Botanic Garden, located in the

54 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

©e Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

Pay tribute to the Bard at The

Huntington’s Shakespeare Garden.

heart of the historic Rancho Santa

Anita in the city of Arcadia, is home to

plant collections from all over the world,

including many rare and endangered

species. Additionally, it houses outdoor

historical landmarks representative of

California’s history. A narrated tram tour

travels through five botanical sections:

Africa, Australia, The Americas, The

Asiatic and Historic Circle. Visitors

travel from Madagascar Spiny Forest, a

collection of succulents with twisted

trunks punctuated with needles, to a

soaring vista on Tallac Knoll, displaying

the beauty of the arboretum’s collection

of over 18,000 plants.

Huntington Library, Art Collections

and Botanical Gardens in San

Marino is an oasis of art and culture set

amidst 150 acres of breathtaking gardens

with 14,000 varieties of trees and

plants showcased in more than a dozen

principal garden areas, including

Japanese, Rose, Shakespeare, Camellia,

Jungle, Palm and Chinese. Like a

French Impressionist painting, the gardens,

lawns, arbors and pathways evoke

a feeling of tranquility. It houses the

largest public collection of camellias

and azaleas in the world in addition to

more than 1,200 varieties of roses in

the Rose Garden. The Chinese Gardens

guided tour visits the traditional

Suzhou-style garden featuring a 1.5-

acre lake, seven pavilions, a canyon

waterfall and five hand-carved stone

bridges set against a wooded backdrop

of mature oak, pines, camellias, bamboo

and blossoming plum trees.

The San Diego area’s mild Mediterranean

climate makes it possible to grow

more different kinds of plants than almost

anywhere else in the United


States. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad

Ranch, a springtime extravaganza, contain

thousands of ranunculus plants covering

the hillside above the Pacific

shoreline, separated into ribbon-like

bands of color. Guided tours explain the

planting process and growing cycle and

describe the variety of flowers grown.

Picture paths allow groups to walk into

the fields and take breathtakingly colorful

photos. Favorite features include the

American Flag of Flowers, a brilliant

Where heaven and earth meet, so can you.

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> 273 luxury rooms

and suites

> 40,000 sq. ft. of fl exible

meeting space

> Championship

golf course*

> Fine and casual dining

> Full casino

> Ski Apache*

> Fishing*

> Horseback



1-800-545-6040 | Mescalero, NM near Ruidoso

Booking Info: jokazhe@innofthemountaingods.com


*Weather permitting. Must be 21 or older to enter casino. The Mescalero Apache Tribe

promotes responsible gaming. For assistance, please call 1-800- GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537).

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 55

on location: west ❖

American flag comprised of red, white

and blue anemone flowers planted on

the hillside, and the Sweet Pea Maze, a

living maze of fragrant and colorful

sweet pea blossoms.

Located in the heart of San Diego,

Balboa Park is renowned for the lush

landscaping and lovely gardens that offer

a magnificent backdrop for its cultural

attractions. The park contains more than



Stroll through 120 acres of breathtaking gardens

See world-class artworks • View rare literary treasures

Indulge in afternoon Tea • Group Tours available

eight gardens, including the Alcazar

Garden, award-winning rose garden,

Japanese Friendship Garden, desert

garden and historic Botanical Building.

These are only a sampling of the

numerous gardens, farms and flower

shows that make for great inclusions on

any group tour itinerary. Something is

always blooming in California. Come

and let your senses run free. LGT

1151 Oxford Road • San Marino, CA


www.huntington.org • tours@huntington.org




The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies celebrates

the music, dance and comedy

of the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, with

one amazing difference: Every member

of the Follies cast is from 57 to 81 years

“young.” The Follies has been seen by

nearly three million patrons and is presented

every November through mid-May

in the historic Plaza Theatre, located in

the heart of downtown Palm Springs.

Each Follies edition is entirely new and

features a rotating roster of renowned

guest stars and variety acts. The Follies’

21st season opens with television and

film star John Davidson (Nov. 2-Dec. 31,


The heart and soul of the Follies are

the 16 ladies and gentlemen of the chorus,

who have spent their entire careers

performing in television, film, Las Vegas

showrooms and upon the Broadway

stage. They have now returned to the

thing they enjoy most: singing and dancing

for Follies audiences. Riff Markowitz,

with his blend of cutting-edge satire and

Old World savoir faire, is your personal

guide through FolliesLand.

56 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: west ❖

Nestled among natural monuments, form into the sights and sounds of do a lot on a three-day/two-night spring

vineyards and historic Gold Rush spring. With three of the tallest waterfalls

itinerary that begins at lunchtime in historic

landmarks, Mariposa County is more

than just California’s gateway to

Yosemite National Park. Alive with possibilities

for group travelers, it’s a worldclass

destination for all seasons, with

picture-postcard scenery, friendly locals,

charming foothill communities and, of

course, great outdoor recreation.

Spring comes early in Mariposa

County and is an ideal time for group

in North America and wildflowers

unlike any others, Mariposa County

beckons groups to witness the springtime

splendor. Besides unmatchable

scenery, the area offers endless activities,

from hiking, golfing and rafting to fishing,

cycling and horseback riding.

To see what Mariposa County has to

offer, you really need a week to 10 days

to take it all in. But groups can see and

downtown Mariposa, where the

Butterfly Cafe is highly recommended.

(Mariposa, named for the Spanish word

for butterfly, is gearing up for the annual

Mariposa Butterfly Festival April 29-

May 1.)

After lunch, head over to must-see

museums like the California State

Mining and Mineral Museum, the

Gold Rush History Center, Mariposa

trips. There is nothing quite


County Historical Courthouse

and the Old Jail

like watching Yosemite’s

winter wonderland trans-

House. (This is a good time


Mariposa County, home of

Yosemite, abounds with

group-friendly delights

in the heart of the

Golden State

Rafting on the Merced River is

popular with groups. There are many

outfitters to choose from.

All Photos Courtesy of

DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc.

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 57

A stop at Tunnel View captures the majesty of Yosemite National Park.

on location: west ❖

for the driver to drop luggage at your

hotel.) Once you’ve explored the rich

history of Mariposa, a perfect next stop

is Casto Oaks Fine Wine & Art, where

you can enjoy beautiful artwork while

sampling wines. Before dinner, work in

some time for shopping in downtown’s

antique shops, art galleries and boutiques.

Restaurants offer everything

from casual fare to fine dining with

wine pairing from a local winery.

By day two, it’s time for the wonders

of Yosemite National Park. Groups enjoy

the drive along scenic Highway 140,

“The All Season Motorcoach Highway,”

that follows the Merced River, known

for its Class 3 and 4 whitewater rafting

in late spring and summer. You’ll soon

arrive at the Yosemite Valley floor. As

winter recedes, the park comes to life in

dramatic fashion. Roaring waterfalls are

at their peak. After taking a two-hour

narrated valley tour, enjoy a buffet lunch

served at the Garden Terrace at

Yosemite Lodge. After lunch, visit the

Ansel Adams Gallery, the Indian Museum,

the Yosemite Cemetery, Indian

Cultural Exhibit, Historical Post Office,

and save time for souvenir shopping.

Then check into Yosemite Lodge at the

Falls, a splendid lodging choice for enjoying

the full impact of the waterfalls.

After breakfast at your hotel on day

three, save time to shop and stroll before

boarding your motorcoach and depart

the Yosemite Valley on the Highway 41

corridor. Stop by Inspiration Point (also

known as Tunnel View) for a stunning

vista. Also stop by Wawona Pioneer

History Center and look for deer grazing

on the only golf course in a national

park. Once outside the park, stop by

Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

It’s all aboard for a one-hour narrated

steam train excursion over rails

used for logging at the turn of the 20th

century. An outdoor barbecue awaits

your return to the station. The Sugar

Pine Railroad is only minutes away

from Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, an upscale

resort perfect for group conferences,

reunions, weddings and retreats.

You just may want to stop there and

take in a massage at the all new Ascent,

the Spa at Tenaya Lodge.

Groups lucky enough to spend three

days immersed in the history and

splendor of Yosemite and Mariposa

County will come away feeling they

have seen the best of California.

For more information, contact the

Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism

Bureau at 866-425-3366; homeofyosemite.com.


Yosemite’s Wawona Golf Course is the only golf course in a national park.

Obtain California

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


58 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on location: west ❖ heather lee

If looking for a memorable place to

book a family reunion, look no further

than Wyoming’s dude ranches. The

opportunities are endless.

Featuring abundant grasslands, spectacular

mountains, canyons and deserts,

Wyoming’s natural beauty is pictureperfect

and world-renowned. The state

is home to two national parks and two

national monuments that draw tourists

by the millions. Yellowstone National

Park is known around the world for its

hot springs, geyser activity and glacial

ice forms. Grand Teton National Park

boasts the jagged Teton Range Mountains

with some peaks soaring over a

mile and a half. Devils Tower National

Monument is a stump-shaped rock formation

that rises 1,280 feet. Fossil Butte

National Monument features brightly

colored fossil beds at the base of a bluff

that rises more than 7,500 feet above sea

level. Along with these noted landmarks

are countless national forests and rivers

that provide settings for the dude

ranches in Wyoming.

“It’s all about history, hats, horses and

hospitality. Experience the West in true

cowboy country.” That’s the slogan for

the Wyoming Dude Ranchers Association,

founded in 1926. Dude ranches,

also known as guest ranches, are typically

family-owned and -operated. They

provide tourists the opportunity to experience

life in the West. Horseback

riding, fishing, hiking and cattle driving


Dude Ranch


Western-style fun

awaits buckaroos of all

ages on family reunions

in the Cowboy State

Wyoming Office of Tourism

Saddle up for adventure

at a family-friendly

Wyoming ranch retreat.

LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 59

on location: west ❖

are a few of the activities available to suit

every age range at a reunion.

No two Wyoming dude ranches are

the same. One ranch that specializes in

family reunions is Medicine Bow

Lodge and Guest Ranch, located 22

miles from Saratoga. Medicine Bow sits

at approximately 8,500 feet in the

Snowy Range of the Rocky Mountains

in Medicine Bow National Forest. A

newly refurbished lodge features vintage

log walls, a stone fireplace and

seating for as many as 30, with spaces

for games and entertainment. Cabins

are also available.

The wide range of activities at Medicine

Bow Lodge means no one will be

left out. As owner Debbie Bishop explains,

“One of the wonderful amenities

at our ranch is that we can cater to what

our families desire during their stay

with us. A typical day for family reunions

would start off with a breakfast

buffet in the dining room. Then they

would have the choice of horseback riding,

hiking, fishing, relaxing in a hammock

or sitting with loved ones as they

reminisce about the growing-up years.”

Medicine Bow also has events

planned every night. Sunday night is

game night, Tuesday dance night,

Wednesday a cookout, Thursday entertainment

night, Friday a rodeo and

Saturday night a sunset ride. Activities

for children include building with clay

and access to a kiln that allows them

to take their projects home. Saratoga, a

25-minute drive from the lodge, provides

golf, fly fishing, museums, spas

and shopping in a quaint town. (800-

409-5439, medbowlodge.com)

Another ranch known for its children’s

program is Red Rock Ranch.

Located just outside Jackson Hole, the

Red Rock provides an ideal atmosphere

The jagged peaks of the Teton Range enthrall guests at Lost Creek Ranch.


Go online and see the article

on the group-friendly attractions of

Cheyenne, the capital of Wyoming. Log on

to http://leisuregrouptravel.com/p=23107.

for families. Available for groups of

28-30, the entire ranch can be booked

to provide a reunion with its own private

paradise. Schedules are customized

for each group, with such activities as

hiking, fishing, swimming and horseback

riding. Guided hiking programs

spotlight the scenic landscape with

views of the Teton Mountain range. A

conference center is available for gatherings

and events. Red Rock boasts a

70% return guest ratio, with 90% of its

guests being families. (307-733-6288,


The Hideout Lodge and Resort

sits on 300,000 acres of land near Shell.

While not offering traditional kids’ programs,

the Hideout has other specialties

and takes pride in its lodging and

culinary excellence. The Hideout offers

a vast array of livestock and diversity of

terrain, as it is one of the biggest and

oldest ranches in the area. Open year

round, the Hideout offers winter activities

such as riding, snowshoeing and

snowmobiling. Summer diversions include

trap shooting, 4x4 riding, fly fishing

and a local dinosaur dig site.

(800-354-8637, thehideout.com)

If booking a large group, try Bill

Cody Ranch in northwestern Wyoming.

Located 30 minutes west of Cody and

30 minutes east of Yellowstone, the

ranch includes 16 cabins, a family

chalet, executive log homes and a main

lodge capable of handling groups of

60-70 people. Open mid-May through

September, Bill Cody Ranch has 85

horses that are available for two-hour,

four-hour or all-day rides. All cabins

have TVs and are decorated with modern,

Western furnishings. (800-615-

2934, billcodyranch.com)

Another ranch that caters to large

groups is Lost Creek Ranch Lodge

and Spa. It is located between Grand

Teton National Park and Bridger-

Teton National Forest near Jackson

Hole. The ranch is capable of accommodating

groups up to 55. Horseback

riding, trips to Grand Teton National

Park, a spa, weight room, and yoga and

pilates classes are available. (307-733-

3435, lostcreek.com)

The range of activities at Wyoming

dude ranches will suit every interest at

a family reunion. From horseback riding

to hiking, dude ranches provide

memories that will last a lifetime.

Waking up every morning to the sun

rising behind the mountains, groups

will remember their Wyoming vacation

forever. LGT

Obtain Wyoming

visitor guides

and itineraries –

and contact groupfriendly


directly – at


60 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

on the record ❖

On The Record

Readers Offer Tips on

Garden and Theater Tours


from Leisure Group Travel readers who

responded to the query: Tell us about

your best garden or theater tours. What

makes them special and what perks do

you add in to make them different

There are many garden walks in

Chicago and its suburbs. The most

enjoyable for my group was initiated via

The Garden Conservancy (www.gardenconservancy.org).

When you contact

them, you will pay a small fee for their

catalog detailing garden walks throughout

the U.S. After doing this, I selected

the date and area we preferred. When

you know how many you will have participating,

you send a check for that

number, and tickets will be issued.

We visited two gardens in the morning

and had lunch in a lovely restaurant

located in close proximity of the two gardens

we were visiting in the afternoon.

One owner, located on a high hill above

Lake Michigan, had a beautiful screened

porch where he served us coffee/tea

and cookies – absolutely beautiful! It is

most interesting to learn how the owners

became so interested in gardening

and nature. Each garden was different

with totally different atmospheres. One

location had a mansion-like home with

swimming pool, a lovely arbor, extensive

patio, etc. The garden included the

swimming pool in its layout of flowers,

trees, bushes, etc. Awesome!

I highly recommend garden walks –

even the slow walkers have a good time.

Esther M. Scott

Assistant Vice President

Hinsdale Bank & Trust

Hinsdale, IL

alissa Preston MicHael lundquist Ginny Howell

Some of the best gardens can be visited

in the southeastern United States. At

the Globus family of brands we have

crafted several custom programs that

visit these majestic gardens and famous

estates. We start our 9-day “Gardens

of the Old South” tour in Atlanta, with

visits to Martin Luther King’s home

and the Swan House, an elegant, classically

styled mansion built in 1928. One

visit to these lavish gardens will take

your breath away. These gardens feature

a pair of cloverleaf pools, cascading

fountains, a terraced lawn and roses

tumbling over a stone retaining wall.

The Swan House garden is one of the

most photographed sites in Atlanta.

The next site visited is Biltmore Estate,

near Asheville, N.C. If you love gardens,

you will marvel at the 80 varieties of

roses in the Rose Gardens, 50,000 tulip

bulbs in the English Walled Garden,

1,000 poinsettias that decorate Biltmore

House every Christmas and the most

complete collection of wild azaleas in

the United States.

In Charleston, S.C., there are visits

to Magnolia and Middleton Place

plantations, where trails through the

gardens will transport you to a forgotten

era. The colorful azaleas, camellias,

roses, fragrant Carolina jasmines and

wisteria mingle with the majestic oak

trees. Spanish moss hangs from each tree

to complete the magical Old South imagery.

The tour ends in Savannah, where

we enjoy the gardens in the city squares

and famous private homes complete

with their own gardens. A trip to the

Southeast is a must for anybody who

enjoys gardens and good times.

Michael Lundquist

National Group Sales Manager

Globus family of brands

Littleton, CO

We have a fabulous new tour that

combines the romance and ease of train

travel on a deluxe “hotel on wheels”

plus the exciting world of opera, ballet

and choral music in Russia and

Ukraine. Among the special touches:

the artists will come on board to meet

with the guests and demonstrate on

board in addition to the performances.

One special musical performance will

be monks in a monastery singing.

Eleanor Flagler Hardy


The Society of International

Railway Travelers

Louisville, KY

62 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

Both the Columbus Jazz Orchestra and

BalletMet offer unique VIP experiences.

Before a CJO concert, groups get a

backstage tour of the gilded historic

Southern Theatre before meeting the

band’s personable artistic director,

Byron Stripling, the former lead trumpeter

and soloist for the Count Basie

Orchestra. After the show, you can

go on stage to meet the entire band

and get your copy of the CJO’s “The

Colors of Jazz” CD autographed.

BalletMet also allows groups exclusive

backstage access to meet their

dancers and see their intricate sets and

costumes up close. If your group isn’t

visiting during a show, they can watch

the dancers rehearse and get a hands-on

look at the costume shop, before taking

a low-impact dance/stretch class led by

the BalletMet Academy faculty.

Columbus’ hands-on garden experiences

are unique, too. Franklin Park

Conservatory lets you pick herbs from


See what millions of women worldwide

have been laughing about for 10 years!

Four women at a lingerie sale with nothing

in common but a black-lace bra AND

memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats,

not enough sex, too much sex and more!


LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 63

Space to Work.

Room to Relax.

Galveston is the place for family and military

reunions, educational field trips and seminars.

The Victorian Condo Hotel Resort and Conference Center is a

favorite destination for those planning reunions, church and

school events.

Our staff has the expertise to meet your expectations for meeting

facilities and to provide options for your groups’ outings to the

Island’s world-class attractions.

Over 10,000 square feet of of indoor and outdoor meetings areas,

for groups of 12 to 300.

6300 Seawall • Galveston • TX • victoriancondo.com

Director of Sales & Catering • Jennifer Kirk

jkirk@viccondo.com • 800.231.6363 ext. 2231


on the record ❖

their new community garden campus

to create your own wood-fired pizza.

You cook it yourself outside in their

Live Fire Cooking Theater.

One of Columbus’ suburbs, Gahanna,

is known as the Herb Capital

of Ohio. They offer all kinds of fun

hands-on classes that let you do everything

from making one-of-a-kind

herbal blends to herb-infused vinegar.

Alissa Preston

Tourism Sales Manager

Experience Columbus

Columbus, OH

I have done tours for garden clubs

usually coming from Ohio to the

Georgia and South Carolina coasts.

We have planned stops at the Daniel

Stowe Botanical Gardens in Charlotte,

where lunch has been arranged along

with a speaker who will talk about

any garden subject that the group is

interested in. This was especially popular

with Massillon, Ohio-area groups

as the stained-glass roof

in the entrance came

from the Baptist Church

in Massillon. The people

at Daniel Stowe are

very easy to work with

and the gardens are

beautiful. Even on a

morning when it was

sleeting, the pansies

didn’t care; they still

showed their beautiful

faces. This particular

garden group continued

on to Charleston, where

we had a Master Gardener

take them to a

number of the private

gardens in Charleston.

They then had lunch at

Middleton Place Plantation,

where another

garden expert talked to

them about the Middleton

gardens, which date

back to the 1800s .

We hosted the Ohio Association of

Garden Clubs on Jekyll Island. They

brought two motorcoaches and while

one toured the Jekyll Island Historic

District, the other toured the district

with the in-house horticulturist, Cliff

Gowran. Cliff gives them a tour highlighting

the historic plantings in the

district. They had high tea at the Jekyll

Island Club Hotel hosted by Ginny

Howell Tours. Tea was served in Ginny’s

private collection of tea cups, tea pots

and assorted handmade doilies. One of

the ladies from the local garden club

came and talked with the group. They

continued on to Savannah, where each

group was treated to a tour of Hidden

Gardens. They were then taken to Massy

School to see the original layout of the

city. This group ended in Charleston at

Middleton Place for lunch. The Middleton

horticulturist welcomed the group

and talked about the upkeep of the garden

and the flowers, which are planted

for year-round beauty.

Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell Tours

Jekyll Island GA



of Leisure Group Travel, our

On the Record column will look

at online marketing. Please send us

your response to this question:

How are you using online tools—

websites, email, social networking

—to grow your business

Along with your comments,

please include your name, company

name and location. Also for

publication, send a high-resolution

photo of yourself. A selection of

responses will be printed in the June

2011 issue. Thanks in advance for

your valuable opinions.

Send to: Randy Mink,


64 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com




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Destination-specific “know before e you

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LeisureGroupTravel.com April 2011 65

On Marketing

❖ dave bodle

Are Social Media Fears Founded


I knew it couldn’t be avoided. I knew it

wouldn’t be easy. However, today’s subject

has become part of our social culture

and now permeates the business world.

Although most of you know considerably

more about social media, I’m ready

to tackle the subject.

Let’s be straightforward. I am not a

social media fan for business. I just

don’t get how it works for my interest.

As a writer am I supposed to post on

my Facebook page everything that’s

published I guess that makes some

sense, but everyone I care about (that’s

you!) is already reading my stuff.

How about my little tour & receptive

business Should David’s Tour Connections

have a Facebook page Probably

that’s a good idea, but where do I get

friends/fans My website that’s under

Springing Ahead to our


Group Itinerary Planning Guide

Holiday Celebrations

Sightseeing Cruises

Scenic Railroads


North Dakota

Washington DC

West Virginia

• Montana



North Carolina

• Canada/South Pacific

See our page-flip edition & past issues at


We can help showcase your business

to groups. Call us 630.794.0696 or


construction Maybe I can put a Facebook

link there when it’s completed.

I know how to drive traffic to my website,

so maybe the interested viewers will

link to my Facebook page.

Then there’s Bodle Communications.

This small company helps both tour

& travel and golf suppliers package and

promote their products to the appropriate

markets. Surely, there’s a place for

social media in this venture as well.

You can see where I’m going. I have

a vague sense of social media’s value,

but I’m just not ready to race full steam

ahead. My guess is that you might be

feeling the same way about your business.

One of the challenges with understanding

social media is it constantly

changes. An article titled “Social media

here now, gone tomorrow” by Julie Hatfield

in SATW Traveler December 2009/

January 2010 issue was not announcing

the demise of social media. Ms. Hatfield

was simply stating that social media is

changing and evolving everyday.

Even with all that change there are a

few basic principles regarding social

media. More than 85 percent of Americans

who use social media sites say a

company should be present and interact

with its customers via social media. This

September 2008 information from

Opinion Research also reports that more

than 40 percent of those surveyed said

companies should use social media to

solve customer problems and solicit

product and services feedback.

On the other hand, in a Knowledge

Networks report from May 2009 there

appears that social network users do not

have a strong association with business

sites and their own purchase decisions.

Although 83 percent of the Internet

population (ages 13-54) participates in

social media, less than 6 percent look to

social media sites for purchasing decision


Throughout this article I’ve used the

terms social media and Facebook almost

interchangeably. Surely, social media encompasses

Facebook, but it also includes

SMS/TXT, Twitter, blog sites and many

others. They all share one common element.

At the risk of oversimplification

all social media are web-logs, short for

blogs. So, what does that mean

Although still less than 100 percent

sold on social media for business, I’m

willing to give it serious consideration

for my business. First, I’m going to have

my 15-year-old grandson help me set up

Facebook accounts for each of my small

business ventures. Next, I’m going to

treat each like a blog and dedicate a minimum

of 45 minutes each week to post

content. I’m going to keep a notebook

handy to record blog subjects and ideas.

I’m going to post comments on other

industry blogs hoping to stay connected.

Social media can be challenging,

especially as our time becomes more

and more restricted. We all are assuming

more and more responsibilities in

our businesses. However, one thing

I know and fully accept is that more

than 80 percent of marketers in 2011

will be using social media, up from 42

percent in 2008. In 2010 more than

82 percent of these marketers were

increasing their social media budgets.

Obviously, these people know more

than I do. Maybe it’s time for me to

test the waters.

Contact Dave at 843-712-1140

or email dbodle@sc.rr.com.

66 April 2011 LeisureGroupTravel.com

An irresistibly odd escape




at Radio City Music Hall ®

Limited Engagement Begins June 9

Looking to inspire your group Spend the evening with Cirque du Soleil

Call Jacob Kimbro at 212-790-9540 or email Jacob.Kimbro@cirquedusoleil.com

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