“Live from New York, it’s…Sports Leisure Vacations on the radio!”

Indeed, on Sunday, February 28th, The Travel Guys, our brand new radio show, hosted by yours truly and Sacramento’s number one radio man Tom Romano, was on the air, live from snowy New York City. (If you’d like to listen to the show, simply point to the blue “Cool KFBK stuff” button on the home page of our web site, and click. Then scroll to the bottom right and you can listen to the show, just as it was broadcast, but without news and commercials.)

So how does something like that happen, you ask? (Please ask, because otherwise, I don’t have anything to write about.) Well, first one of the radio hosts carries a briefcase full of wires and equipment to Columbus and Hartford, then through the snow-covered streets of New York. Well no, I guess the first thing is to actually have a radio show. But we have already climbed that mountain (see the previous post)…

Continue reading “Live from New York, it’s…Sports Leisure Vacations on the radio!”

Casino Mystery Trip are among our most popular tours!

Last spring on a scouting mission I developed one of the most unique tours, the Rich Man Poor Man Casino Mystery, March 21-25.

I’m not real good at keeping secrets and this has been a tough one as the posh Rich Man portion of the tour stays 2 nights at an incredible hotel set in magical scenery. The property boasts marvelous one of a kind shopping, a spa, and of course a casino. The Poor Man’s accommodations are not as fancy but there is endless entertainment, shopping, gaming and even golf courses close by. We will be motor coaching between the two destinations (it takes an airplane to get there), stopping at places of interest during our travels.

If you have never taken a mystery tour before but you enjoy testing Lady Luck or browsing the shops, take a chance on this one, you won’t be disappointed. Happy trails, Scott

You can checkout Rich Man, Poor Man by clicking here!

New Overnight Vacations Available at SportsLeisure.com

NEW!!!  The Osmond Brothers at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks * 2 Days – April 1st–2nd

The Osmond Brothers started their careers 50 years ago and have sold over 77 million records.  Don’t miss this rare appearance outside of The Osmond Theater in Branson, MO.  Your accommodations will be at the Nugget.  You will receive dinner before the show as well as a $5 cash bonus and a $3 food credit if including the show in your package.  There are no bonuses or dinner for those not including the show.  Before returning home the following day there will be a three hour stop at the Silver Legacy in Reno where you will receive a $5 cash bonus.  200 Gold Passport Points  $179 p.p./dbl.occ., $199 single

Check it out here…

NEW!!!  Lily Tomlin at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel/Casino * 2 Days – May 7th–8th

In 1969, Lily Tomlin joined the sketch comedy show Laugh-In.  Some characters from the show have been associated with her throughout her career, including the wisecracking, snorting telephone operator, Ernestine and the bratty five-year-old Edith Ann.  She has also starred in many movies and continues to entertain audiences with the stories of her life.  Lily performs in the Nugget’s Celebrity Showroom.  Your accommodations will also be at the Nugget where you will receive a $5 cash bonus as well as a $3 food credit. Before returning home the following day there will be a three hour stop at the Silver Legacy in Reno where you will receive a $5 cash bonus.  225/250 Gold Passport Points  $219 p.p./dbl.occ., $249 single

Check it out here…

The Traveler for Jan/Feb and Open House Registration

Just a quick note to let you all know that our Jan/Feb newsletter is now available online. This issue features new vacations, day trips, customer letters and more.  You can check it out by clicking here or heading to sportsleisure.com and clicking on it from the homepage.

We’re also pleased to announce that for the first time ever, you are free to register for this year’s Sports Leisure Open House online.  To register, simply head to sportsleisure.com and click on the post-it note in the top-left hand corner.  You will then be free to select your session and reserve your spot.  You can also register by giving us a call at (916) 361-2051 after Friday.  Remember, online reservations are available now, phone reservations cannot be made until Friday.  This event is open to all Sports Leisure Travel Club members and their friends.

The Great Comment Giveaway

We hope you all had a fantastic holiday season, and would like to welcome you to the new year with a contest here at sportsleisure.com!  We’re offering a $50.00 gift card to a local restaurant OF YOUR CHOICE to one lucky winner at the end of January.  All you need to do to enter your name in the contest is post a comment on any blog post we release this month.  Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry, we’ll explain it further below.

The rules are simple:  We’ll be posting various articles, travel discount opportunities, announcements and random musings here on our blog at various times throughout the month. To enter, all you need to do is:

  1. Read the entire post
  2. Think of a great comment
  3. Write it into the comments section below the article on our site.

For those of you reading via email, you’ll first need to click on the title of the post to write your comment.  Replying to the email won’t work, to qualify for the contest you’ll need to post your comment on the actual site. Your name can only be entered into the drawing once per blog post, but you are free to comment on all the posts to increase your chances!

So there you have it, our first ever online contest here at Sports Leisure Vacations.  Remember, you can’t play if you don’t comment, so be sure to sign up for email announcements whenever a new blog post is released. Click here to sign up for email updates now. Let us know what you think in the comments 😉

Ashland or Bust, Our 2010 Christmas destination is born…

I love it when people say to me, “How in the world did you find this place?”  It’s like earning a merit badge or a military stripe; a verbal accommodation for a job well done.  Tours don’t just happen.  They don’t create themselves.  Of course, we attend conventions to learn about destinations and meet the suppliers we later hire to provide components for your vacation experiences.  We study brochures, guidebooks, visitors’ guides and pour over countless websites to learn as much as we can and limit the vast field of choices to what looks to be the best of the best.  But even then, we aren’t quite ready to start soliciting contracts.

No, there’s one important component that’s still missing: Personal experience.  Here in Sports Leisureland, nary a multi-day tour hits the road without the planner or escort (usually one in the same) going out on a “dry run” to personally inspect the hotels, restaurants and attractions that will be a part of the itinerary.

We call these scouting trips, but they are far from being a vacation.  On the average scouting trip, we might visit 15 restaurants, ten hotels and five attractions in a single day to find the one or two that offer the best combination of value, hospitality, location, historical significance, beauty and/or local flavor.  These trips are not inexpensive in terms of staff time, nor actual hard costs.  Whether we drive or fly, transportation is going to be a significant line item.  In many cases we could work with our friends at the local convention and visitors bureau to “beg” a hotel and meals, but we usually elect not to do this.  We don’t want to feel obligated to use one supplier if another proves to have a better offering.

Now you know why Sports Leisure staff members are such fiends for earning air, hotel and credit card points.  We don’t use them for personal holidays in Bermuda!  More often than not, we cash them in to defray travel expenses on scouting trips.

So I just spent a long weekend scouting trip in Jackson County, Oregon, visiting the lovely communities of Ashland, Medford and Jacksonville.  “Wait just a second,” you may rightfully say, “Sports Leisure visits this area many times each year.  What about tours to the Shakespearian Festival, Crater Lake and Klamath Falls?  Surely you guys must already know it all.  And hey, aren’t you the East Coast guy?”  Good questions!

And of course, I have answers.  Because of my willingness to travel on the happiest and holiest holiday of the year—Christmas—and because these tours tend to be shorter and stay a little closer to home, I have to reevaluate destinations like Jackson County.  We all know it’s a great place to visit in the spring, summer and fall, but is it a solid destination at Christmas time?  Will it be beautifully decorated?  Will there be restaurants open to feed us?  Will there be attractions and entertainment venues wanting our business?  The very best destinations at other times of the year might be terrible at Christmas if too many suppliers close their doors.

Scouting trips for Christmas tours simply have to be done during the holiday season so that we get an accurate feel this year for what the town will hopefully look like next year.  Thus, this weekend has me in the Ashland area, whilst Mark is in . . . oops, I almost let the cat out of the bag.  Mark’s out scouting next year’s “Christmas Lights Mystery Tour.”  And may I say it’s going to be much closer to home than this year’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island trip, but chunk-full of the wonderful holiday experiences you’ve come to expect on this annual vacation.

Mark and I have been lucky this weekend.  Our travels have not been in vain.  Both destinations are picture perfect around the holidays (except I can’t tell you his).  Ashland and Jacksonville are breathtakingly beautiful, bathed in an ocean of twinkling lights and other holiday offerings from theatre to food.  And in Medford, we’ll enjoy a particularly flavorful Christmas treat, thanks to the hospitality of my friend Leigh Johnson, vice president of Harry & David, fruit and candy purveyors extraordinaire.  If there’s anything better than one of their Royal Riviera pears, I want to taste it!  Unless, of course, it’s their signature popcorn confection called Moose Munch, flavored with dried cranberries and gingerbread this time of year.  So much to savor.  So little time!

And so it goes.  I’ve toured and eaten my way through yet another wonderful destination.  Will it work as our over-Christmas-Day trip for 2010?  You betcha!  And I just spoke to Mark.  He reports that his scouting trip is proving to be a wonderful success; his destination unknown will host the best Christmas mystery tour ever next year.  For us, it’s just another day at the office (so to speak); another day of making your travel dreams come true.  We wouldn’t have it any other way!

Expanded Door-to-Door Service is Announced

 From the Sports Leisure Newsroom – At Preview Day, is was announced that door-to-door home pick-up, without a doubt one of the most popular services Sports Leisure Vacations offers, has been expanded.  Previously, the service had been included on fly-away and extended motorcoach tours.  Effective immediately with the newly announced tour schedule, the service has been expanded to include all motorcoach trips of three days or longer and even some overnighters.

Instead of the coach winding through town, travelers will be brought by Carey Limousines to the new Sports Leisure offices at 9812 Old Winery Place for departure.  Those wishing to drive to the office will receive a $50 per person credit in place of the home pick-up.  At the tour’s conclusion, the coach will meet our fleet of Carey Limousine vehicles at the office and return you to your home. 

Tours announced prior to Preview Day are not included in the new services, which is being phased in.  Should you have any questions, consult the tour itinerary, or inquire with our office when you make your reservation. 

 

Our 2010 Catalog & Dream Book, “Imagine,” Mailed to All Travel Club Members

 From the Sports Leisure Newsroom – The brand new 60-page, four-color Dream Book, entitled “Imagine,” was dropped at the post office Wednesday morning, September 2nd.  Travel Club Members should begin receiving their personal copies in the next few days.  Be sure to look for the special Day Trip insert, which also contains dozens of Early Registration Di$counts for tours, cruises and vacations in the catalog.  The book will be posted on the web and be available for distribution to non-members beginning Monday, September 7th.  Copies are also available at the Sports Leisure office. 

Preview Day Draws Big Crowd, Sets Record

 From the Sports Leisure Newsroom – Over 600 Sports Leisure Travelers and their friends attended our annual Tour & Vacation Preview Day at the Marriott Hotel on Saturday, August 29th.  The morning and early afternoon sessions were complete sellouts, with the late afternoon crowd coming just short of capacity at the Marriott. 

Travel Club Members were entertained, first by Jessie Norman, our 2008 Chuck Evans Scholarship award winner; then by noted chef Chris Chisholm.  Jessie sang a medley of Broadway show tunes, accompanied by Joe Gilman on the baby grand piano, to resounding applause.  Chef Chris prepared a delicious shrimp and wilted spinach salad, right before our eyes, then two lucky guests were chosen to sample the finished product at the end of the demonstration.  It marked the first time such a feat had been a part of Preview Day activities. 

Rounding out the “food” portion of the program, Tour Director Ramona Goodge teamed up with guest Katherine Setness from Setness Tours of Stockton to offer treats involving the use of olive oil in one of the breakout sessions which followed the main program.

The 2009 scholarship winner was announced.  She is Morgan Sommer, the granddaughter of Travel Club Members Bob and Amy Rath, and she is pursuing a variety (literally) of majors in college.  She is studying in Puerto Rico this year.  Morgan’s grandparents were on hand to pick up her check, as her studies have already started for the year.

Sports Leisure staff were on hand, including our newest member, Ryan Quinn, the designer or this new and improved website.  Ryan is soliciting ideas and suggestions from those who use this site.  You can click here to send Ryan and Sports Leisure founder Mark Hoffmann your thoughts