Saturday, April 28, 2018

DATTCO our Motorcoach Partner- Travel in Safety & Style!

Some say, that getting there is half the fun... and that is surely the case when booking a group excursion with Tours of Distinction.  Our professional team curates every aspect of each tour itinerary with the enjoyment of our clients in mind right down to the motorcoach company we contract.  The comfort and safety of our clients is paramount to our philosophy...to make every journey with us the best that it can be, and that's why DATTCO is our motorcoach partner.

About DATTCO

We like the fact that DATTCO is not only a Connecticut company but one that has been family owned since 1924 and is now third generation strong.  Today, DATTCO has over 2,400 employees and 29 offices, terminals and service facilities located throughout New England, to ensure customer satisfaction and safety.  DATTCO is a sanctioned carrier for the Department of Defense, an approved carrier recognized by the Transportation Safety Exchange, and has been awarded the esteemed TRAX Insurance Risk Control Award of Excellence. President and owner, Don DeVivo is the current chair of the prestigious American Bus Association, the largest tour operator, and motorcoach trade association, nationwide.  DATTCO, as a company, is widely respected as a "rock-solid" operation according to Metro Magazine.

Most importantly, DATTCO takes maintenance and safety seriously. The DATTCO Motorcoach Safety Department is overseen by a Senior Safety Director and staffed by a full-time Motorcoach Safety Director, Training and Compliance Supervisor, Driver Trainer and Assistants. Drivers undergo a rigorous 40-hour classroom session, evaluation, and extensive road training prior to being placed in service.  DATTCO is one of the few companies that has a driving simulator as part of all new driver and refresher training.  The simulator is housed in a full-size motorcoach within a mobile classroom. The entire fleet is equipped with an accident event recorder surveillance system to monitor driver behavior, operation and response to changing road and traffic conditions.

Types of Motorcoaches 

DATTCO has one of the largest and most state of the art motorcoach fleets in the country including more than 100 luxurious motorcoaches manufactured in Belgium by Van Hool.  The DATTCO fleet offers a variety of motorcoach sizes and seat configurations enabling Tours of Distinction to choose the motorcoach that is perfect for your group and one that fits your budget.

81 Seat Van Hool Double Decker


This eco -engineered Van Hool double-decker motorcoach is state of the art and environmentally responsible. It is loaded with onboard features that are designed to impress riders and include sky view rooftop, exciting upper-level views, front and rear staircases for easy loading and unloading, centrally located restroom, two deck entertainment system, seatbelts, USB ports, outlets, and wi-fi. Traveling in this motorcoach puts you in the holiday mood the moment you step in.

52 Passenger Coach



Lots of legroom, comfortable reclining seats and plenty of overhead storage make traveling in this vehicle a delight. This luxury motorcoach also has large flat screen monitors, WIFI, and outlets to charge your phone and laptop so you are never disconnected.

36 Passenger


Plush ergonomic seating, legroom galore and spacious overhead compartments to store your belongings make traveling on this mid-size luxury coach an ideal way to reach your destination in style and comfort.  This motorcoach comes with many amenities like wide screen TVs, and outlets to charge your electronic devices making getting there half the fun!  This motorcoach is perfect for smaller groups with a smaller budget because the 36 seater has all the amenities of a full-size coach.

Luxury Van


If you have a small group of eight to twelve passengers, consider booking the Luxury Van. These vehicles are beautifully appointed with a custom leather interior, flat screen monitors, wide, reclining executive chairs.  Wifi, outlets and a DVD player with flat screen monitors round out the comfort of this luxurious vehicle that is perfect for a small exclusive group for a local or overnight excursion. This vehicle also has an easy loading spacious rear luggage compartment.

14 Passenger Limo Van


The elegantly appointed Limo Van is perfect for a small exclusive group that wants to tour in style. Whether you want a night in the city, a tour of the countryside or a trip celebrating a special occasion, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the experience of the sights and sounds when traveling in this vehicle.  Amenities include leather couch seating, seat belts, window shades, a large flat screen monitor, DVD player, wifi outlets, ice chest and even mood lighting.

About Tours of Distinction


For more than 45 years, Tours of Distinction has understood that your vacation time is precious.  Travel is a way of life for members of our team and we want to share our discoveries and in-depth knowledge with you. Our clients seek authenticity and our team’s expertise and hands-on assistance will ensure that your journey with us is fun, fulfilling and, that it fits your budget.  Our goal is to make sure that every day of your journey with Tours of Distinction is the best that it can be.

For almost a half a century, Tours of Distinction has offered a diverse collection of small escorted group and individual tour itineraries carefully crafted by our Professional Travel Team.  We specialize in everything from carefree day trips and multi-day adventures to 7 - 14-day journeys of a lifetime, nationally and internationally. Whether you are a first-time traveler or a seasoned globetrotter we are here to provide you with expert service because when it comes to travel, service and our years of experience make all the difference.

For Tours of Distinction, travel is not just a “business” it is a lifestyle that inspires a sense of community that spans the globe.  We would like to welcome you… to our “Tours of Distinction” and invite you to enjoy the magic, excitement and exhilarating experiences of travel with us…the world awaits!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Travel Tip - Keep It Safe - Electronic Hotel Room Key

When travelers check into a hotel, most often they receive an electronic room key with their room number written on it by the front desk personnel. There are several important ways that travelers can keep their electronic hotel keys safe.


About Electronic Hotel Key Cards

Electronic room key cards are similar to ATM cards because they have an attached magnetic strip that is coded by the check-in computer and read by the lock on the hotel room door. A new electronic key card with a new code is created for each new hotel guest.

The only drawback to the electric card system is that they can become demagnetized and when this happens they don't work.  As a rule of thumb, if you don't want this to happen, then make sure that you don't place your electronic key card next to your credit cards, whose magnetic strips or chips make them lose their code.

If your electronic room key card is demagnetized be sure that hotel staff asks you for your photo I.D. before issuing you a new electronic key card.

Keeping Electronic Hotel Key Cards Safe

Every traveler knows that it is helpful when first checking into a new hotel to have your room number written on the sleeve of the hotel room card key.  Keeping the key in the sleeve with the room number on it isn't safe or prudent. There are a couple of easy ways to keep your card safe in case it is stolen or if you lose or misplace it.
  • Try to memorize your room number as soon as you check into your room.  Keeping it "in your "head" is sometimes the best way to go!
  • Before you blacken out the room number on the sleeve, take a photo of it with your smartphone.  This photo will allow you to refer to the number if you forget it. Be sure to put your room key in your favorite travel pouch or wallet and ditch the sleeve with the blacked out number. 
  • For extra back up you can take a photo of the door of your room with the number on it.
  • Another backup option is to text yourself the number of your room without any reference as to where or what this number relates to. 
  • If you are traveling alone, it is best not to get two room keys.   If you do, make sure that you don't leave the extra key out in the open or in the power slot.  Keep the extra key with you or lock it in the hotel safe.


Tours of Distinction ---The World Awaits!

For more than 45 years, Tours of Distinction has understood that your vacation time is precious.  Travel is a way of life for members of our team and we want to share our discoveries and in-depth knowledge with you. Our clients seek authenticity and our team’s expertise and hands-on assistance will ensure that your journey with us is fun, fulfilling and, that it fits your budget.  Our goal is to make sure that every day of your journey with Tours of Distinction is the best that it can be.

For almost a half a century, Tours of Distinction has offered a diverse collection of small escorted group and individual tour itineraries carefully crafted by our Professional Travel Team.  We specialize in everything from carefree day trips and multi-day adventures to 7 - 14-day journeys of a lifetime, nationally and internationally. Whether you are a first-time traveler or a seasoned globetrotter we are here to provide you with expert service because when it comes to travel, service and our years of experience make all the difference.

For Tours of Distinction, travel is not just a “business” it is a lifestyle that inspires a sense of community that spans the globe.  

We would like to welcome you… to our “Tours of Distinction” and invite you to enjoy the magic, excitement and exhilarating experiences of travel with us…the world awaits!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Magical Mackinac Island - Jewel of the Great Lakes Aug. 18-25

Imagine visiting an Island that has no cars and is surrounded by calm lake waters and fragrant evergreen forests.  An Island where 80% of its landscape is an unspoiled National Park; and one that has a living Victorian village where the only mode of transportation is by horse and carriage or bicycle.  Mackinac Island, the jewel of the Great Lakes is all this and more.

Visitors to Mackinac Island often feel they have stepped back to a more genteel time because of its elegant Victorian architecture and the signature sound of the clip-clop of horses as they pull carriages around this unspoiled island that has banned cars since the 1800s. Here, you will find the queen of Victorian Era resorts, the Grand Hotel, you can take a leisurely stroll  or horse and carriage ride through a "living" Victorian village, sample fudge made from a traditional recipe that has not changed for more than a century, and tour Fort Mackinac, that dates to the 1700s.



In 2015, Travel and Leisure Magazine called this charming four-square-mile island located on Michigan's Lake Huron the "world's friendliest island".  It is no wonder that the island snagged the number one spot. Most of the island is undeveloped and unspoiled, the service and amenities are excellent, and the attractions are varied and interesting.  Best of all, residents of the island are friendly; many affectionately refer to visitors as "fudgie" because very few visitors leave the island without sampling its specialty...fudge!


Downtown Mackinac Island

Lined with colorful Victorian styled shops, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques, downtown Mackinac Island is a shoppers paradise that has something for everyone.  Downtown is also the best place to rent a bicycle or go on a horse and carriage ride. If you are planning a shopping expedition, make sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes!

If you are a foodie there are more than 50 restaurants to choose from ranging from family friendly to fine dining. For more information about restaurants click here. At night, many of the restaurants and pubs offer live entertainment from big band music to rock, folk, blues, jazz, and country, the choice is yours and the scene is convivial.


Mackinac Island claims to be "America's Fudge Capitol", and after sampling the endless varieties of fudge, you might believe that this is fact, not fiction!  The tradition of making fudge was born in the years following the Civil War and is alive and well today.  Many recipes used here have not changed since the 1900s.  Keep an eye peeled for Murdick's Fudge located downtown; it is the oldest fudge making shop on the island that has been serving this delicious delicacy since 1887.



Downtown for History Buffs

Downtown isn't only for shoppers, history buffs can explore five beautifully preserved historic buildings including the Biddle House, the Benjamin Blacksmith Shop, McGulpin House, the American Fur Company Store and Dr. Beaumont Museum, and the Mission Church.

Biddle House

Once the home of a fur trader,  the Biddle House dates to 1797 and is of French Canadian construction.  A highlight of the house is the open hearth cooking demonstrations and hands-on crafts classes. Close by, the McGulpin House is a rare example of Canadian architecture that was built around 1780.  It is a gable-roofed French Canadian structure made of squared horizontal logs with dovetail corners.

American Fur Company Store and the Dr. Beaumont Museum

The American Fur Company Store and the Dr. Beaumont Museum has exhibits that include a period setting of what the store looked like in the 1820s and is staffed with a costumed interpreter.  It also has a gallery explaining Dr. Beaumont's observations on the digestive system. The story goes that in 1822, a French Canadian traveler was accidentally shot in the American Fur Company Store and that Dr. Beaumont nursed him back to health. The wound never healed properly and through an opening to the stomach, the good doctor was able to compare the digestibility of food. From his observations, Dr. Beaumont published a groundbreaking book on the digestive process in 1830.


The Arch Rock

Regardless of how you view Arch Rock, from above or looking down through its frame, you will be in awe. This dramatic and extremely rare geologic formation was created thousands of years ago during the Nipissing Era when the water levels of Lakes Huron and Michigan were much higher than they are today.  Over the centuries the receding water and wind eroded the soft rock below leaving only the hard breccia rock exposed that forms the symmetrical archway that we see today.  Arch Rock rises 146 feet above the water and is 50 feet at its widest point.

Mackinac Island State Park

Breathtaking vistas, historic landmarks, nature trails winding through verdant forests, and spectacular rock formations are just some of the delights found at Mackinac Island State Park. Visitors can take a horse and carriage ride through the park, go horseback riding, bicycle or hike on 70 miles of trails that make their way through this unspoiled wilderness.

The Park has many historic landmarks such as the palatial summer cottage of Michigan's Governor and Anne's Tablet, a bronze memorial that commemorates the work of novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson.  There are two benches here with a fabulous eastern view that overlooks the town and harbor making it a perfect spot for photos and a picnic lunch.

For history buffs, don't miss Skull Cave that was used by Alexander Henry, one of the British survivors of the June 2, 1763 attack on Fort Michilimackinac.  He was taken to the cave by his friend, Ojibwa Chief Wawatam for protection.  Henry reported that this cave was full of skulls and bones!

Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac was built by the British Army during the American Revolutionary War. It looms 150 feet above the Straits of Mackinac and overlooks Marquette Park, which was a garden for the soldiers living in the Fort.  Entering the Fort is like stepping back in time to 1775 when the American Revolution began.  Visitors are invited to explore the 16 buildings of the Fort that are open and furnished with period settings or themed exhibits. A special treat is the dining experience at the Tea Room located in the Fort with its excellent view over Marquette Park.


In addition to its stunning panoramic views, highlights of the Fort include tours by costumed interpreters, hearth cooking demonstrations, and the exciting experience of watching cannon and musket firing demonstrations.  Be sure not to miss the 15-minute movie in the King's Storehouse that tells the story of the attack at Michilimackinac.  If you like to shop, before you depart check out Sutler's Museum Store where you will find items unique to Fort Mackinac. 


Tour Mackinac Island With Tours of Distinction

TOD is offering an exclusive eight-day excursion to Mackinac Island, August 18-25, 2018.  The tour includes roundtrip motor coach and ferry transportation, 14 meals, and 7 nights hotel accommodation.  A professional TOD Tour Director accompanies the group on this exciting trip.  A variety sightseeing has been carefully planned and includes Niagara Falls, Henry Ford Museum, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Greenfield Village and Tour, Cranbrook House, Lunch at the Grand Hotel, Carriage Ride and Tour of Mackinac Island, Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Lunch in the Fingerlakes, and Frankenmuth, Bavarian Village.  For complete tour details click here.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Allure of Native Cultures of Alaska

Alaska is well known for its awe-inspiring natural beauty. This pristine landscape has been the home to the Indigenous Peoples of Alaska dating back to when Raven made the world and Crow brought daylight to this land.  The Alaska Native story is one of endurance and adaptation.  No other state in America holds such a broad range of Native cultures as Alaska. From the Iñupiat (In-OOPY-at) of Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow), just above the Arctic Circle, to the Tlingit (CLINK-it) of Ketchikan on the tip of Southeast Alaska, Native cultural diversity is a hallmark of the state.



At the time of contact in 1741, the various indigenous nations of Alaska controlled all 586,400 miles of it.   The variety of these indigenous groups can be traced back to Alaska’s first Native descendants, who came by way of a northern land bridge that once connected Siberia and Alaska. As the Ice Age ended and the seas claimed the land, the nomads moved to higher ground. When the continents drifted apart, that land would become Alaska.



Today, Alaska's indigenous peoples make up about 24% of the state's population. Many of the 151 tribes live in one of the 229 federally recognized Alaskan Native villages that are scattered along the coastline and rivers, where they still practice traditional hunting and fishing. In larger communities such as Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Native dress, language and social customs blend with modern city life. The blend is part of why Alaska is well-known for its cultural and historic attractions throughout the state. And, for visitors, it is a fascinating cultural journey where ancient beliefs and traditions come to life.



For thousands of years, Alaska Native people have preserved their rich traditions and passed their cultural heritage from generation to generation, often in the form of sacred ceremonies, oral history and storytelling, dance, art, crafts, food, and beliefs. While the languages and philosophies vary from region to region, many common goals, values, and spiritual beliefs weave these Native societies together. Here are five things you should know about Native Culture when visiting Alaska.


The Word "Eskimo"

Although the word "Eskimo" is used to refer to all Inuit and Yupik people, this name is considered to be derogatory because it was given by non-Inuit people. The preferred term is Inupiat which means The Real People.



Traditional Way of Life

Alaskan Native Peoples fought and won the right federally to continue to hunt whales, seals, and walrus as part of their distinct cultural and spiritual heritage.  The relationship between the Native People of Alaska and the resources of the land and the sea is so close to their beliefs that an entire culture is reflected.  Subsistence living is the way of life that has been practiced for centuries. Conservation and perpetuation of subsistence resources are part of Native life mandated by traditional law and custom.



Citizenship

When Russia sold Alaska to the United States in 1867 without asking the Alaskan Natives that numbered 30,000 this group did not become U.S. citizens for 57 years. It wasn't until 1924 with the Indian Citizenship Act that Alaskan Natives could own their own homes, file for mining rights, protect their salmon streams and vote. In 1971, Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the largest land and monetary settlement ever passed by Congress that allowed Alaskan Natives to retain 44 million acres and receive almost $1 billion dollars in compensation for lands taken.



Sled Dogs
Sled dogs have coexisted and co-operated in partnership for many thousands of years with Alaskan Natives.  The Alaskan Husky was used for many important tasks, such as packing heavy loads in the summer and dragging supplies on the snow in the winter.  Dogs were companions and babysitters as well as early warning systems for bears, enemies or other forms of danger.



Alaskan Native Crafts

Art and beauty have always been interwoven with the history and traditions of Alaska Native cultures. They differ from tribe to tribe and region to region.  In Northern Alaska, ivory carvings are the most popular crafts produced by Inupiat Natives of the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Sea.  The Yupik of Southwestern Alaska specialize in fine quality baskets made of beach grass and the  Athabascan Indian women of the Interior are known for their traditional use of beads made of carved wood, seeds, quills, and shells. Look for this work on mittens, moccasins and other clothing items. 



 On the Aleutian Islands, you will find intricately made baskets of pliable, tough rye grass, woven by the Aleut. One of the most well-known art forms can be found in Southeast Alaska.  Here you will find colorful totem poles, symbolic of the family crest designed by the Tlingits, Haidas, and Tsimshians. Early totem poles acted like "billboards" for powerful native families that told the story about the family and the rights and privileges they enjoyed. 


If you are looking for authentic Alaskan arts and crafts look for the silver hand emblem or the "Made in Alaska" emblem that indicates that the item was made in Alaska by a resident artist, craftsperson or manufacturer.



Alaska Fresh and Wild with Tours of Distinction 

Tours of Distinction is offering a trip to Alaska-- Fresh and Wild from Aug. 11-23, 2019.  This expedition includes a spectacular Seven-Day Indoor Passage cruise on the Norwegian Jewel and lots more! Highlights include Sawyer, Hubbard, and Mendenhall Glaciers, Alaskan Salmon Bake, Gold Panning, Goldstar Car on the Alaskan RR, pre-cruise accommodations in Vancouver, unlimited beverage package, all gratuities & port fees a full-time Tours of Distinction Professional Tour Director and so much more.  Book by August 31, 2018, and save $350.  For all the details click here.