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Mexican Riviera Cruises with NCL starting in October

Want to cruise the Mexican Riviera?  Up to now, your choices have been very limited.  Now, you have the option, beginning October, 2015, of sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line.  You have a choice of 7- and 5-day cruises from Los Angeles, and an 11-day voyage from San Diego.

And have you heard about NCL‘s new Haven complex?  Hidden away at the top of their ships, it’s an exclusive enclave, with the personal service of a concierge, and 24-hour butler service – it’s like having your own ship within a ship.  This all-suite area is perfect for multi-generational travel – grandparents, parents and children who all want to travel together in their own, private area.

And since Norwegian Cruise Line is just starting this route, it’s still not too late to book for Spring Break!  Santa Barbara Travel has reserved space exclusively for our clients on the 7-day, March 27-April 3, 2016 sailing – give us a call today to book this departure, which is sure to fill up quickly.

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Land to Sea Culinary Immersion at Terranea Resort

Here at Santa Barbara Travel one of the hottest  trends we see is the desire for culinary travel.  No longer do travelers merely want to visit a destination, they also want to experience it – and many want that experience to include locally cultivated food and drinks.

Building on California’s allure as America’s ‘Capital of Culinary Travel‘, Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes presents a 3-day, 2-night inclusive package for two that will immerse the senses and satisfy your inner foodie with a complete ‘Farm-to-Terranea‘ dining experience.

Join the Executive Chef in Terranea's own garden for a private tour

Join the Executive Chef in Terranea’s own garden for a private tour

Join Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra on a visit to the resort’s local farm, discussing seasonal ingredients, picking produce and then preparing a meal.  Participate in a pastry & liquor pairing workshop with Executive Pastry Chef Pierino Jermonti and Sommelier Szymon Piechaczek.  Go on a whale-watching picnic. Indulge in a spa treatment incorporating salts, lavender, lemons or honey – all produced on site by the resort.
Your 'Farm-to-Terranea' weekend includes a spa treatment with products all produced at the resort.

Your ‘Farm-to-Terranea’ weekend includes a spa treatment with products all produced at the resort.

This culinary immersion weekend also includes seats at the exclusive Chef’s Table Dinner series, dinner for two at signature resort mar’sel (with wine pairing) and your choice of a honey workshop, a sea salt workshop or a fish market experience with a Terranea chef.

Book through Santa Barbara Travel and you will also receive a $100 resort credit, daily breakfast for two, a VIP welcome amenity and a one-category upgrade upon arrival and early check-in and late check-out, based on availability.Enjoy this unparalleled culinary experience December 2-4, 2015, and the weekends of February 18th, April 21st, June 30th, August 25th, October 13th and December 8th in 2016.

Can’t make it for a full weekend?  Then how about booking a Chef’s Table Dinner for an evening?  These are available now on February 18th, April 21st, June 30th, August 25th, October 13th and December 8th in 2016.

A wine-focused dinner more your thing?  Consider a mar’sel Library Wine Dinner, which takes place in 2016 on January 21st, March 17th, May 19th, July 21st, September 15th, and November 17th.

All these events are incredibly popular and fill up quickly, so book now through Santa Barbara Travel for best availability.

Culinary Croatia: With Central Holidays

With 1,118 miles of stunning coastline and more than 1,000 islands, Croatia is an increasingly well-known travel destination for adventurers with a love of history, culture and dramatic scenery.  It should also be a country that comes to mind when people think of food and wine.
croatiaThe coastal regions of Istria and Dalmatia are famed for their fresh, Adriatic seafood.  Here, you’ll find a host of dishes based on shellfish.  With its warm Mediterranean climate, the coastal region also enjoys an ever-changing array of fresh seasonal produce.Inland, the cuisine is characterized by recent contacts with neighboring cultures – Hungary, Turkey, and Austria. Paprika and garlic are heavily featured in this cooking, and the desserts, including the delectable kremsnita, are a wonderful culinary legacy of the Austrian Hungarian empire.
This cream cake, when it's made around Zagreb, in Croatia has a puff pastry top, predominantly custard cream filling (less whipped cream) and is finished with powdered sugar. The massive size is at first daunting, but the light filling makes the cake easy to eat and not too heavy. Just perfect for an afternoon snack.

This cream cake, when it’s made around Zagreb, in Croatia has a puff pastry top, predominantly custard cream filling (less whipped cream) and is finished with powdered sugar. The massive size is at first daunting, but the light filling makes the cake easy to eat and not too heavy. Just perfect for an afternoon snack.

The Croatian peninsula of Istria is renowned for truffles.  The world’s largest recorded truffle (weighing 1.31 kg.) was found there in 1999.  Truffle hunting takes place in the autumn, and local food specialties include pasta or steak with truffles.  Italian foodies drive over the border just to have a truffle lunch before returning home.  In fact, some say that the best Italian food can be found in Northern Croatia!

You can hunt, dig and taste them in the dark forests of Motovun, on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia. Especially trained truffle-hunting dogs called 'breks' are used during the 3-month season, which begins in October.

You can hunt, dig and taste them in the dark forests of Motovun, on the Istrian peninsula of Croatia. Especially trained truffle-hunting dogs called ‘breks’ are used during the 3-month season, which begins in October.

Croatian wines are equally deserving of praise.  Basking in 2,600 hours of sunlight each year, Croatia abounds in a variety of excellent wine growing regions, with both quality red and white varietals.  Croatian wine, however, is largely undiscovered.  Wine producers are generally boutique, family operations, bottled only in small batches. This means that most of their vintages are consumed by the local market.

Learn more about the culinary delights of Croatia, as well as the Northern Italian Piemonte region, at Central Holidays’ presentation on October 1, 2015 at the State Street office of Santa Barbara Travel.

What’s the Winter Snow Forecast?

Here in Southern California it can safely be said we are obsessed with the long range weather forecast.  We’re all concerned about the drought, but some of us are also very preoccupied with the possible white-stuff precipitation.

Will it snow?  How much will it snow? Where will it snow?  Should we book a ski vacation now, or wait till later?  For those of us who live for ski season, these are all pressing concerns.

We’ve done more than a little research, and have finally found a credible long-range ski forecast.  It’s been written by Chris Tomer, the Mountain Meteorologist for OnTheSnow.  We’re giving you the full report below, but here’s our summary:  LOOKS GOOD.

Tahoe/Mammoth should have a normal snow year, as should Utah and Central Colorado.  All good news.  Better news:  the Southern Colorado mountains have best the chance for the heaviest snowfall.

So now, what are you waiting for?  Let’s get that ski vacation booked.

Here’s the full report:

What El Niño Has in Store for Winter 2015/2016

A Zeitgeist of sorts, it never fails: Right around this time of year, every year, tales of El Niño-enduced record-setting snowfall and endless powder days for the ski season to come start to swirl, no matter how true those very same tales panned out to be for the season before it. To set the record straight, we tapped our OnTheSnow Mountain Meteorologist, Chris Tomer for his region-by-region predictions on what skiers and snowboarders can expect come winter.

Big Picture

El Niño/La Niña load the dice in certain ways, often encouraging the jet stream (storm track) to follow particular patterns. This winter, all indications support the influence of a moderate to strong El Niño, and we generally know what kinds of regional precipitation and temperature effects that might bring.

For example, the biggest change this winter is for better odds of a wet, stormy winter in southern California and the desert Southwest. But, that doesn’t automatically mean all of California will get pulled out of the drought. The odds also favor a wetter than normal winter along the Gulf Coast and Florida. While there really isn’t a strong signal for the Northeast, the Ohio Valley has better odds for a dry, mild winter.

The wildcard is the Pacific Northwest where the influence of El Niño may get tempered by a pool of warmer than normal water off the coast. It’s unusual. That warm pool of water nicknamed by local forecasters as “the blob” has kept the area abnormally warm and dry.

Meteorologist Chris Tomer's west-coast El Niño predictions for the 2015/2016 ski season.

Meteorologist Chris Tomer’s west-coast El Niño predictions for the 2015/2016 ski season.

 

California

Odds are stacked in favor of a wetter, stormier and snowier winter for the southern half of California. The Sierra in general should do much better than the last couple winters, with snowfall amounts normal to above normal. But again, that doesn’t mean northern California is in the same boat. My gut feeling is that most of the Tahoe resorts should get close to normal snowfall, which is still a huge improvement. Kirkwood and Mammoth will do quite well. 

 

Colorado, Utah, Wyoming

Utah appears to be in line for normal to slightly above normal winter snowfall. In particular, southern Utah has the best odds with Brian Head in good position. 

Colorado is an interesting case study. My feeling is that the southern mountains stand the best chance for the heaviest winter snowfall.  But, even there I don’t think we’re talking blockbuster amounts—just slightly better than normal. This is one of those winters where Wolf Creek reigns supreme. The central mountains should get close to normal snowfall while the northern mountains may underperform with slightly less than normal amounts. 

Wyoming appears stuck in the middle. I think we’ll see slightly below normal snowfall overall, but I wouldn’t change any plans to ski there. 

 

Northeast

Winter snow in this case really depends on how strong this El Niño gets—the stronger, the better chances for heavier than normal snowfall in New England. Right now I think we’ll see normal winter snow amounts but the numbers could edge up. 

Amazing One Week Special from Windstar Cruises

Tired of the big crowds on cruise ships?  Here’s your chance to experience all the comforts of a luxury cruise ship, but without the hassle.

Windstar Cruises is known for pampering without pretense, and their ability  – with fewer than 300 guests on board – to visit the hidden harbors and secluded coves of the world’s most treasured destinations.

Wind Spirit photo (3)

You can now combine an amazing experience with an amazing price.  We have to pass on the info we’ve just received about this incredible deal:  Starting on September 29th and lasting only through October 6th, you will be able to save up to 77% on Windstar Cruises, with prices as low as $1,499 per person.  This includes popular voyages to Panama, Costa Rica, the Caribbean and Europe.

Give us a call today at Santa Barbara Travel.  With prices this low, spaces are sure to sell out almost immediately.

The Today Show Reports on Current Top Travel Trends

Did you catch the segment yesterday on The Today Show about Virtuoso Travel Week?  As we reported in an earlier blog post, many of us here at Santa Barbara Travel braved the August Las Vegas heat to find out about the hottest new travel destinations, and to make the personal connections needed to ensure our clients have the best of all possible dream vacations.

If you click on the following clip, you will see that travelers are no longer content to merely visit a destination, and see the sights.  They also want to learn something, to immerse themselves in the local culture.   This could be through educational tours, active expeditions, or culinary travel, among others.

How do you want to see your next vacation destination?  Let Santa Barbara Travel help you fulfill your travel dreams.

The Today Show, September 15, 2015: Top Travel Trends

The Today Show, September 15, 2015: Top Travel Trends