Travel briefs 1/11

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Ice palace centerpiece of upcoming festival

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The towering palaces of ice that enchanted winter festival-goers in St. Paul for generations are scheduled to return this season for the first time in more than a decade.

Organizers of the St. Paul Winter Carnival hope to have a walk-in ice castle ready when the three-week festival opens Jan. 22. The homage to all things wintry will coincide with the NHL All-Star Game events, which will take place in St. Paul on Feb. 7 and 8.

The castle will be built from blocks of ice carved from the Lake Phalen River, with each chunk roughly the size of a bathtub.

Rest stop design to be environmentally friendly

FREDERICK, Md. -- Seven teams of architects, engineers and college students are competing to design an environmentally friendly rest stop along Interstate 270.

The federally funded contest is aimed at producing a Maryland Welcome Center that will demonstrate self-sustaining technologies while serving the toilet and travel needs of 1,300 people daily -- including many visitors to the nation's capital, 35 miles away.

All designs must include self-contained electrical, water and waste-treatment systems for the 1,200-square-foot structure.

Escaped airport cat reunited with owners

MIDDLETOWN, R.I. -- A cat that escaped from his carrier as he was being loaded on a plane in Seattle was found two months later near the airport and reunited with his owners.

Jefferson, a 5-year-old tabby, missed his Delta flight in October at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. His owners, Will and Kelly O'Connor and their children, were driving from Washington to a new home in Rhode Island, but they'd decided to transport Jefferson by air.

Delta crews and the family spent four nights scouring the airport. Later, workers checked animal hospitals and shelters, distributed fliers and took out newspaper ads.

Eventually Kelly O'Connor flew back to look for the cat. She put up posters and offered a $200 reward, and on Dec. 15, a daughter of a Delta Air Cargo manager told the O'Connors that Jefferson had turned up in a house basement near the airport. A veterinarian confirmed the cat's identity through an implanted microchip, and Delta flew him home to Rhode Island in time for Christmas.

Green Bay plans 150th anniversary celebration

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A series of events beginning with a Feb. 26 gala at the Lambeau Field Atrium have been scheduled during 2004 to celebrate Green Bay's sesquicentennial.

Music, food and dancing are planned at the kickoff event, along with video presentations of Green Bay's history. Everyone who attends will receive a new Green Bay flag to display on Feb. 27, the city's actual 150th birthday.

Green Bay will hold its second annual Kids Day June 25, six months before Christmas, and the city will host its first Pride of Green Bay Parade Aug. 14.

The city was the eighth to be founded in Wisconsin and had 1,923 residents at that time. It now has about 102,000.

Travelers expected to look to luxury offerings

NEW YORK -- A trend guru is predicting that travelers will be looking for their roots this year, while the travel industry looks for new customers by catering to luxury air travelers, teaming up with well-known brands, and expanding spas to all manner of hotels.

Those forecasts are according to Adam Hanft, co-author of the book "Dictionary of the Future" and president of Hanft Raboy & Partners, a New York advertising agency.

He expects travelers to look for their roots this year as well.

He also sees a luxury air industry developing to cater to the needs of wealthier travelers for whom a first-class ticket it not quite good enough, while familiar brand names like Starbucks and Nike start dabbling in the tourism business by co-sponsoring package deals.

Finally, Hanft foresees the spa trend expanding from luxury properties to affordable hotels. After all, who wouldn't like a dip in a hot tub to go with that $39-a-night room in a chain motel?

-- From wire reports

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