Real Deals

Looking forward to Philadelphia, Mongolia, or more pie?

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / January 1, 2006

One of the tricks to winning the game of life is to always have something to look forward to. For travelers, 2006 will yield a trove of special events and new experiences, some with special savings. Here are some possibilities.

Philadelphia already has begun celebrating Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday. Although this great American was born Jan. 17, 1706, the celebration will last all year, with one of the best offers available through April 30. The Ben's Birthday Hotel Package is offered at 36 hotels, with rates of $105-$419. Participants get one or two nights' accommodation, two tickets to ''Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World," an exhibition at the National Constitution Center; a ''BENefits" coupon book for savings at restaurants, stores, and attractions; a guide; a discount card for the Philadelphia Trolley Works; and even temporary Ben tattoos. Other amenities, which vary from hotel to hotel, may include free parking.


The nation's theme parks keep coming up with new attractions. At Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the big new ride will be Expedition Everest, officially opening April 7 in the Animal Kingdom park. It's a high-speed train featuring coaster-like action and an encounter with the legendary yeti. For those who want a vacation with the works, and can pay for it, the Walt Disney Travel Co. has added a Magic Your Way Platinum Package that includes pre-trip planning, accommodations at selected deluxe resorts, theme and water park tickets, three meals a day at Disney restaurants, a nightly snack, a fireworks cruise, a spa treatment, child care, special tours, recreation such as golf and water sports, admission to Cirque du Soleil and to children's activity centers, and a keepsake. A sample vacation with two adults, a child age 10-17, and one age 3-9, staying six nights at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge during regular season would start at $7,065.

Call 407-W-DISNEY or visit

This year will mark the 800th anniversary of the Great Mongolian Empire, history's largest contiguous land empire as declared by Chinggis Khan in 1206. The event signified the birth of modern Mongolia, and with later expansion into China set centuries of Mongol rule. Ancient Empires of the Khans, a journey from Nomadic Expeditions, will have a special departure, July 28-Aug. 9, including the opening ceremony of the Chinggis Khan monument in ancient Kharakhorum. The ceremony will feature a ''mini" Naadam Games with archery, wrestling, and horseracing. Many destinations will be visited, with the cost from $2,720 per person plus air fare.

Call 800-998-6634 or visit

For travelers who have been to Ireland and want to see something different, CIE Tours has a seven-night, fully escorted Irish Interlude trip, focusing on the less-traveled northwest and west coasts and including the Fanad Peninsula and award-winning Museum of Country Life. Prices start at $1,446, including air fare from Boston.

Call 800-CIE-TOUR or visit

The Mississippi Queen riverboat will begin its 2006 season with a seven-night Quilting on the River cruise, April 23-30, round trip from Memphis. Passengers will learn the history of quilting as they travel along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. The cruise will spend two days in Paducah, Ky., for the annual Quilting Show, and Dianne S. Hire, a fiber artist quiltmaker, will make presentations. Fares are $1,712-$3,564 per person.

Call 800-543-1949 or visit

Dive-in movies
The Renaissance Chicago O'Hare Hotel this week will inaugurate movies by its 2,100-square-foot pool. Guests can pull up a float and watch family-friendly films on a poolside, 10-foot screen. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. until April. There is no extra charge, and weekend rates start at $99.

Call 800-HOTELS or visit

Pies aplenty
The second annual Inn-to-Inn Pie Tour is scheduled in Rockland, Maine, Jan. 22, noon-3 p.m., with five lodging places participating. For $10 each, participants will be treated to such traditional pies as cherry, apple, and berry, as well as less-traditional raspberry cheese pie, kiwi berry tart, or sun-dried tomato and goat cheese breakfast pie, and maybe even a Maine lobster pie. The event is sponsored by the Historic Inns of Rockland, which also has weekend packages with one-night accommodations, breakfast each morning, a pie for each guest, a pie cookbook, and two tickets to the Pies on Parade tour. Rates are $115-$190 per couple. Tickets to the pie tour alone are available from Captain Lindsey House, LimeRock Inn, or Berry Manor Inn starting tomorrow or at the door on the day of the event. In addition to these inns, Waterman House and Gardens and Lakeshore Inn are participating.

Visit or call 877-ROC-INNS (762-4667).

Start it up
Adventures in Rock has added the Rolling Stones Paris concert in June to its 2006 itinerary. The package includes premium tickets to the show, four-star hotel accommodations, transportation to and from the show, and a guidebook of where to eat and party. Trip dates are June 2-4 and the package price is $1,190.

Call 877-788-ROCK.

Because of a reporting error, the Langham Boston was referred to incorrectly in the Dec. 18 Real Deals column. The hotel is a member of the Great Eagle Holdings group.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at

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