It's that time of year -- when winter travel starts to gear down and spring travel begins to gear up.
Unless you are planning a March getaway, your thoughts are likely turning to spring and summer destinations. No matter which way you're thinking, here are some interesting bits about trips that have come across my desk this week:
SOUND OF MUSIC AFLOAT
Elisabeth von Trapp -- granddaughter of Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired The Sound of Music -- will perform on select Uniworld Boutique River Cruises from June to September.
Based on the Broadway musical, the film version turned many of the Rodgers and Hammerstein tunes into standards that are still instantly recognizable around the world today.
Passengers on Uniworld's Enchanting Danube itinerary will join von Trapp in Salzburg, Austria, at the Mirabellgarten, where she will perform selections from The Sound of Music and other works, including her own compositions. Guests will also participate a Do-Re-Mi sing-along at the garden where the memorable scene was filmed.
The cruise line's European Serenade, Danube Discovery and Grand European River Voyages will feature on board performances by von Trapp.
Couples who book before Feb. 28 can save from $300-$800 on some departures. See uniworld.com.
PROTECT YOUR TRAVEL DOLLARS
With many families planning March Break getaways, this is a good time for a reminder from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) and the provincial government that the best way to protect your travel dollar is to book with a TICO-registered travel agency.
TICO regulates travel agencies in the province and provides refunds to travellers who qualify for compensation if services are not delivered.
"Ontario consumers have some of the best protections of any jurisdiction in the world thanks to the consumer protection available when they book their travel with a TICO registered travel agency," says Tracy MacCharles, Ontario's consumer services minister. For more information, see tico.ca.
ONLY IN KENTUCKY
Many Canadians drive through Kentucky en route to destinations further south, but the Bluegrass State has many attractions and events worthy of a detour.
One is Kentucky Crafted: The Market, which takes place March 7-9 at the Lexington Convention Center.
More than 200 artists are expected to display their wares at the annual event, which features traditional and contemporary fine arts and crafts, as well as Kentucky-related books, music, films and food. See artscouncil.ky.gov.
FOR WOMEN ONLY
Reports of violence against women in India has made many females reluctant to travel alone to that country.
I recently heard about two companies that provide services to women concerned about safety.
Sakha Cabs For Women is an all-female cab company operating in Delhi and the National Capital Region. Currently their operation is small with only 11 drivers but they also run a Chauffeur On Call service for women and their families with daily packages for five or eight hours. See sakhaconsultingwings.com.
ITC Hotels has women-only Eva floors with increased security at its Luxury Collection properties around India.
Access to Eva floors is restricted from the hotel lobby and public areas, and guests registered to the floors have special elevator keys. A female security guard monitors elevators and does rounds. Female butlers and female housekeeping staff provide room service deliveries, laundry and other personal services such as spa treatments, sari wrapping, etc. See itchotels.in.
CHARGED UP AT BEST WESTERN
Best Western Canada is becoming an industry leader in providing electric vehicle (EV) charging stations with a total of 50 either installed, or soon to be installed, at Best Western hotels across the country.
Some EV stations are for the exclusive use of hotel guests while others are open to the public. More than 20 Best Western hotels across Ontario have charging stations up and running. Of these, 17 are set 50-98 km apart along the Hwy. 401 corridor.
The company reports it is working toward creating a coast to coast EV network for guests. For a list of Ontario Best Westerns with charging stations, see bestwesternontario.com/ev-chargers.
GO FEST AT WHISTLER
A new family festival will debut in Whistler on the Victoria Day weekend, May 16-19. GO Fest -- Whistler's Great Outdoors Festival -- will celebrate a unique time of year at the resort, when visitors can participate in both winter and summer themed activities.
The Victoria Day weekend is the traditional launch of Whistler's summer season with golf courses, mountain bike trails and the bike park opening, as well as skiers and snowboarders taking their last spring turns on Whistler Blackcomb's high alpine slopes.
"We are working with the festival producers to present a four-day schedule of active programming that celebrates Whistler's great outdoors and the convergence of winter and summer recreation activities," Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said.
While GO Fest's schedule is still evolving, festival producers have announced that The Great Snow-Earth-Water race -- last held in Whistler more than 20 years ago -- will be an anchor event. While the race format is not yet final, it will stay true to its roots as a multisport, team relay featuring snow, earth and water. See greatoutdoorsfest.com.
ENCORE FOR CUBA CRUISE
Cuba Cruise, which launched this winter, has announced its second season. And, the Canadian company is offering a 20% discount on regularly priced cruises booked before July 31.
The Louis Cristal will once again circumnavigate Cuba on seven-night itineraries with six port calls -- Havana, Holguin (Antilla), Santiago de Cuba, Cienfuegos, Punta Frances on the Isle of Youth, and Montego Bay. The cruise line's second season will start Dec. 22 and continue to March 30, 2015, with Monday departures from Havana, Cuba, and Friday departures from Montego Bay, Jamaica. See yourcubacruise.com.