This Winter Season, Plan the Perfect Escape by Plane, Train or Automobile

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Many Americans are looking for places to escape this winter. There are a variety of options available for those traveling by train, plane or automobile.

As the winter season approaches, many Americans are looking for places to escape and reenergize with a bit of relaxation and adventure. Whether looking to trade in their snow boots for flip-flops, experience the enchantment of a real winter wonderland, or explore the Wild West, there are a variety of options available for those traveling by plane, train or automobile.

Choose your pleasure…jet away to the Caribbean for some relaxation and adventure; opt to climb aboard a vintage train for a real American adventure; or hit the road with the family in tow — winter wonderland or bust!

BY PLANE: Antigua and Barbuda

Touch down in the heart of the Caribbean and you'll discover the sister islands of Antigua and Barbuda, best known for their translucent turquoise waters and 365 secluded white and pink sand beaches. As one of the world's top tropical destinations, accommodations range from trendy, boutique hotels to all-inclusive resorts, and are complimented by a rich cultural heritage and diverse recreational activities that ensure an authentic Caribbean experience.

You can always grab a good book and hit the beach, but if you want to really experience Antigua's rejuvenation powers, we recommend a leisurely hike to Shirley Heights where you can take in a breathtaking panoramic view of English Harbour.

Rejuvenating spa treatments that bring purity, balance, hydration, and regeneration are yet another option on this island. Some of Antigua's top resorts feature dedicated spa facilities, including Blue Waters, Carlisle Bay, Dian Bay Resort & Spa, Galley Bay Resort, and Sandals Antigua Resort.

For those looking for a bit of adventure, you'll have your pick of activities in Antigua, from swimming with the stingrays to sport fishing or scuba diving. For a twist, choose an ecotour and you may find yourself whipping across the waters on a high-powered inflatable boat.

Just 27 miles north of Antigua, is the best kept secret of the Caribbean—beautiful Barbuda. As the sister island of Antigua, this unspoiled Caribbean island offers visitors miles of spectacular beaches a sparse resident population, limited visitors, simple infrastructure and rich tropical wildlife. Home to the only Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Caribbean, Barbuda provides a unique experience for nature-lovers and ornithologists. You can observe the glossy black water birds known as the Magnificent Frigate Birds and about 170 other bird species including pelicans, kingfishers and tropical mockingbirds.

On these islands, the hardest decision of the day will be whether to spend the day lounging on the beach or joining in on a new exploration. For more information go to http://www.antigua-barbuda.org.

BY TRAIN: Experience the Golden Age of Rail Travel Aboard the GrandLuxe Express

With 17 sleek, fully refurbished, vintage rail cars, the GrandLuxe Express is the only private rail experience offered in the United States. Its owner, GrandLuxe Rail Journeys, offers once-in-a-lifetime, seven to nine-night all-inclusive excursions to our own western national parks and Central Mexico. A mere 140 passengers experience each regional itinerary, with prices ranging from $2,945 to $6,450 per person, based on double occupancy.

Appealing primarily to those aged 50-plus, GrandLuxe Rail Journeys offers discerning travelers the chance to experience areas like never before, traveling along "rare mileage track" that has not been traveled upon by passenger trains for decades.

GrandLuxe Rail Journeys' most unique tour provides passengers with an opportunity to experience colonial, ancient and modern Mexico in an eight-day/seven-night journey from San Antonio, Tex. to Mexico City. GrandLuxe Mexico includes stops in Monterrey – the most modern city in Mexico, Zacatecas – home of Mexico's prosperous Eden Silver Mine, colonial San Miguel de Allende, and the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacán. Winter 2007 tours run in January and February.

Those looking to experience their own backyard in a way like never before can choose from three itineraries showcasing our western national parks. GrandLuxe's most popular tour is the National Parks of the West itinerary, offering a nine-day/eight-night tour from Jackson, Wy., to Albuquerque, NM, with spring and summer departures in 2007. Stops include Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Sedona, Az., and Santa Fe. Other itineraries include The Great Northwest & Rockies, running between Jackson, Wy., and Seattle, and Rockies, Sierras & Napa, which runs between Oakland and Denver.

Once aboard any of the tours, passengers enjoy outstanding regional cuisine, deluxe furnishings and spectacular views of each region's most picturesque scenery. Passengers thrive on the personalized service offered by each sleeping car's porter, and dine on regional foods in an elegant atmosphere utilizing fine china, crystal, silver and table linens.

The GrandLuxe Express serves as hotel, restaurant and entertainment all wrapped into one all-inclusive experience. Travelers also enjoy time off the train on specially organized excursions – also included in the tour price – that explore significant points of interest along the way.

For more information, visit http://www.grandluxerail.com or call 800-320-4206.

BY AUTOMOBILE: Winter Wonderland in the Northwoods of Michigan

Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, nestled in the northwoods of Michigan alongside the picturesque shores of the Grand Traverse Bay, offers a winter wonderland for Mom, Dad, kids, teens – and even those in-between.

At this Resort, you will be immersed in the sights, sounds and spirit of the season. Traditional winter activities including horse drawn sleigh rides beneath snow-capped trees and outdoor ice skating are just two of the popular activities travelers may experience. There's also cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and snowshoeing. And for downhill skiers and snowboarders, the Midwest's finest slopes and pipes are nearby.

And, when you've had your fill of the crisp winter weather, head indoors to Spa Grand Traverse. Utilizing both natural and organic products that focus on de-stressing, detoxifying and rebalancing the mind, body and spirit, each specialized treatment ensures a unique experience for even the most seasoned spa traveler. Their signature service is the Cherry Honey Glow, where a fresh mix of local cherry concentrate, honey and sugar is applied to the body, exfoliating and polishing the skin and then followed by a relaxing rinse and therapeutic massage.

The Gallery of Shops is also quite impressive with 13 boutiques and shops as well as a gourmet bistro. Whether you prefer grand American favorites or are new to specialties inspired by the Northwoods region, you'll find some of the best dining at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. With two full service restaurants, including the Trillium Restaurant and Lounge with inspiring views of the Bay and live weekend entertainment, a limited menu in Jack's Sport Bar, sandwiches made to order at the Marketplace and Room Service, there is plenty to choose from. This resort is especially kid-friendly with menus at each restaurant designed just for them.

After the kids have gone to bed, mom and dad can enjoy the excitement and fun of table games, slots, and video games at one of two nearby casinos.

With something for everyone just a car-ride away--there will be no "bah humbugs" this winter season.

For specials, rates, and packages or to make reservations, call 800-748-0303 or visit http://www.grandtraverseresort.com.

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MARCIA ROWLAND

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