Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes
"Travelers411" Radio Show - November 06, 2010 - Show Archive

Take a Tennis and Ski Trip This Winter to the Bennington Tennis Center, Bennington, Vermont; Christmas on the Titanic at the Titanic Museum Attractions, Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Tips for Making the Best of Your Hotel Stays; Prepare to Be Spooked by the "Haunted Cotswolds" With Diz White, Actress, Producer, and Author.

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Hour 1

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Seth Gabriel, Tennis Professional, Bennington Tennis Center, Bennington, Vermont, USA.
www.benningtontenniscenter.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show volley with Seth Gabriel, Tennis Professional at the Bennington Tennis Center in Bennington, Vermont. The Bennington Tennis Center offers lessons for all skill levels and ages. Thanks to its indoor courts and Vermont location, the center offers travelers the chance to play tennis and ski in the same vacation.

Wimbledon Tennis Stadium in Wimbledon, England, UK.
Wimbledon Tennis Stadium in Wimbledon, England, UK.

The Bennington Tennis Center has three full-size courts and two junior, or quick start, courts. "The junior courts are great for getting younger kids involved," says Seth. "These courts are more comfortable for them; they give kids more of a sense of size and proportion while they're learning. We also have low-compression balls that are designed to be slower and give kids more of an opportunity to succeed at the sport. They're very popular and really make a big difference."

Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.
Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.

Although tennis may have experienced a downturn as resorts focused more on golf courses, Seth says the sport is becoming more popular once again. "One way you can see the trend is in rising tennis ball sales," he explains. "With tennis, people can play at public courts and it's not recorded the way it is with golf. But now people are realizing that tennis is more reasonably priced than many golf outings and is a way to fit in a workout in a shorter amount of time."

Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.
Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.

The Bennington Tennis Center is close to downtown Bennington, which Stephanie describes as "adorable." Seth suggests that visitors drive up Route 7, go through the center of Bennington to Northside Drive, and check behind the CVS for the tennis center. He adds that a planned bypass will soon make it even easier for guests to find the center. Bennington is close to several popular ski resorts including Bromley, Stratton, Jiminy Peak, and Mount Snow. "It's a really nice combination of skiing and tennis opportunities," Seth explains. "There is no night skiing in Vermont, so when the slopes close at 4 p.m., you can play tennis until 8 p.m."

Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.
Museum of Tennis in Wimbledon, England, UK.

Not only does the center welcome families of skiers and tennis players, it's also very involved in the community. "There are a lot of dedicated people here and recreation is very important," says Seth. "There's a big running community and there have been some very successful sports programs. We're really looking to put tennis on the map by starting kids young and beginning at the grassroots level."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2290

For more information visit www.benningtontenniscenter.com


Link to this segment

John Joslyn, President & CEO, Cedar Bay Entertainment, LLC, Titanic Museum Attractions, Branson, Missouri & Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA.
www.titanicattraction.com    
www.TitanicPigeonForge.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show learn about Christmas on the Titanic with John Joslyn, President and CEO of Cedar Bay Entertainment, LLC, and the Titanic Museum Attractions. There are Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Though the attractions are similar, each location has its own special touches on the inside.

The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Both Titanic Attractions resemble the famous ship from the outside. "Each one is 250 feet long and 100 feet high," says John. "We built half a ship, up to the second smokestack. And the theming at both locations is the same; we tell the great Titanic story using items from all the passengers." A highlight of both attractions is the grand staircase, each of which cost $1 million and was hand-carved out of hardwood.

Photograph of the Titanic's grand stair on display at Foxwoods Resort and Casino Titanic Museum.
Photograph of the Titanic's grand stair on display at Foxwoods Resort and Casino Titanic Exhibit.

The Titanic Attraction in Branson, Missouri, is 20,000 square feet, while the Pigeon Forge attraction is 30,000 square feet. "Every time we build something new, it gets bigger!" John explains. Once inside, visitors can look at photos by Father Brown, stroll the ship's decks, or admire a real iceberg. "We have decks that are sloped at different angles to represent different time frames from the ship's sinking," John continues. "We like to remind people that back then, there were no tennis shoes, so it would have been very slippery."

Titanic Museum's handcarved replica of the Titanic's grand stairway.
Titanic Museum's handcarved replica of the Titanic's grand stairway.

The iceberg is made of real ice and surrounded by 28-degree water. "You can put your hand in the water and realize what it must have been like for the people on board," says John. "It's not a passive, walk-through museum, but a real physical experience." There's even a 'Tot-tanic' area where kids can peer through portholes or try their hand at steering the ship around the iceberg – according to John, it's possible.

Interactive slanting decks represent pitch of ship as its sinking progressed.
Interactive slanting decks represent pitch of ship as its sinking progressed.

At Christmas, the ships in Branson and Pigeon Forge are decorated in full English style. In December 2010, the Pigeon Forge location will even have a little Christmas weather. "We just got some snowmaking equipment, so every weekend at night, the lights will go down, the tree will be lit, and snow will fall," John says. He warns listeners that no matter what time of year they visit, the experience is very authentic. "It gets so engaging that we have people who get up on the bridge, see the iceberg, and actually get seasick," he adds. "I take that as a compliment!"

Related Photo Galleries:
Straus Titanic Collection Addergoole Titanic Society

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2291

For more information visit www.titanicattraction.com and www.TitanicPigeonForge.com


Travel Tips:

After two experiences in which Stephanie booked hotels through online companies and felt less than welcome at check-in, she has a few tips on making hotel reservations and checking into hotels.

Travelers may want to check three different places for hotel rates: online booking companies, the hotel's website, and the hotel's phone line. "Think about calling the hotel and asking for a rate; it may be cheaper than even the hotel's own online rate," Stephanie suggests. "But when you find a number you like, go for it; that way your reservation is done."

South Beach Miami Loewes hotel bedroom.
South Beach Miami Loewes hotel bedroom.

"When you get to your room, look around and see if it pleases you," she continues. "Don't get disgruntled, stay there, and check out unhappy. There's still time to fix things; you can pick up the phone and call the front desk. The only time you have no chance of changing rooms is if the hotel is sold out. Other than that, this is your opportunity, and most of the time, the staff will rise to the occasion."

Aruba Marriott hotel bedroom.
Aruba Marriott hotel bedroom.

Stephanie also has a few tips for getting wrinkles out of clothes without having to iron during vacation. "You can always leave your things hanging in the bathroom and turn on the shower so the steam takes the wrinkles out," she says. "Another method is to lift up the mattress and carefully place your garment underneath. When you wake up, don't forget that you have clothes there. But you'll have given them a nice pressing."

The Algonquin Hotel in Midtown Manhatten, New York, USA.
The Algonquin Hotel in Midtown Manhatten, New York, USA.

Another hotel tip is to leave jewelry, valuables, and room keys in your shoes. "This way, you won't forget your jewelry on the dresser, and if there's an emergency, you will have these things – especially your key, so you can get back into your room," Stephanie explains.


Guests Include:

Seth Gabriel, Tennis Professional, Bennington Tennis Center, Bennington, Vermont, USA.
www.benningtontenniscenter.com

John Joslyn, President & CEO, Cedar Bay Entertainment, LLC, Titanic Museum Attractions, Branson, Missouri & Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
www.titanicattraction.com    
www.TitanicPigeonForge.com

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Diz White, Actress, Producer, Author of "HAUNTED COTSWOLDS", Los Angeles, California, USA.
www.dizwhite.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show get spooked with Diz White, Actress, Producer, and Author of "Haunted Cotswolds." Diz is based in Los Angeles, California, but her heart is in the Cotswolds, where she spends her summers. As an actress, she's known for writing "El Grande de Coca-Cola" with her comedy troupe, which won a New York Critics Drama Desk Award and became an HBO comedy special. She also wrote "Bullshot Crummond," a spoof of 1930s mysteries that became a Showtime special and a major motion picture by Handmade Films.

Diz White, Actress, Producer, Author of "HAUNTED COTSWOLDS".
Diz White, Actress, Producer, Author of "HAUNTED COTSWOLDS".

Later, Diz appeared in comedy films, TV shows, and even "Star Trek: The Next Generation." Her latest project, however, focuses on the Cotswolds region of England, which she describes as "a beautiful area with amazing history: 2,000 years of murder and mayhem starting with the Roman settlers (who tortured the poor Brits), mercenary kings who fought tribal wars, Reformation, the British civil war, and the War of the Roses. So there are lots of gory stories and ghosts for me to write about."

"HAUNTED COTSWOLDS" book cover.
"HAUNTED COTSWOLDS" book cover.

Bloody history aside, Diz adds that the Cotswolds also have "whole medieval villages with the original furniture in the houses, 1,000-year-old churches, and wonderful, untouched scenery." In addition to her ghost story compilation-cum-travel guide, the Cotswolds inspired Diz to write a comedic memoir of trying to buy a cottage in the area. She has also written a second volume, called "Haunted Cheltenham."

Adderbury Gargoyle.
Adderbury Gargoyle.

History Press asked Diz to write "Haunted Cotswolds" after reading a manuscript of her memoir. "I was delighted because it gave me the chance to visit the most beautiful place in the world, according to me, and research true-life ghost stories that are very interesting," Diz says. "I started out as a skeptic; I didn't believe in ghosts. I just wanted to weave the history and architecture of the Cotswolds into these ghost stories, because the book also acts as a tour guide for visitors. But when I actually started researching, I realized that there must be something to it, because I found the same ghost sightings reported by people over centuries."

Winchombe Gargoyle.
Winchombe Gargoyle.

Diz suggests that first-time visitors start in Burford, a medieval town just 1.5 hours from London by car. "Burford is just like it was 500 years ago, with cobbled streets, little storefronts, and wonderful inns," she explains. "The Lamb Inn is a great place to stay. It's also pretty central, so you can radiate out to the other wonderful places." The Cotswolds encompass five counties, from Stratford-upon-Avon in the north to Bath in the south.

Fairford Gargoyle.
Fairford Gargoyle.

One popular attraction covered in "Haunted Cotswolds" is Warwick Castle, built 1,000 years ago by William the Conqueror. The castle is haunted by a previous owner, whose ghost emerges from his portrait in the great hall. "Several people – one in the 17th century, one in the Victorian era – reported this separately," says Diz. "It's documented in several different books. The owner had a very violent death – he was murdered by a servant – and his ghost haunts both the portrait and one of the towers, which you can actually visit." The easily spooked can still enjoy a tour of the castle, which Stephanie and Diz agree is "amazing."

Chavenage House.
Chavenage House.

Another featured location is the Ram Inn, a coaching inn in Wotton-under-Edge that dates from the 14th century. "It's well documented as the most haunted house in Great Britain," Diz explains. "It's now privately owned by a rather eccentric man, Mr. Humphries, who will give you a tour if you contact him. I went with my husband – who took all 60 photos in the book – and it's very creepy in there." Built on the site of a pagan burial ground, the Ram Inn is the spot where Diz started to believe in ghosts.

Ram Inn's Demon.
Ram Inn's Demon.

"I went into one room and felt as though someone was strangling me," she continues. "There was a feeling of icy cold hands on my throat, and I really felt the presence of evil. I said to my husband, 'I'm going to run out screaming now,' and I did. I went outside and left my poor husband to continue photographing by himself. But he didn't experience anything! It seems certain people are sensitive to that and others are not."

Eastleach.
Eastleach.

Listeners can find "Haunted Cotswolds" on Amazon, the History Press website, or through the book's distributor, Trafalgar Square Press. In honor of Guy Fawkes Day, which is celebrated every November 5, Diz mentions the haunting of the Crown and Cushion Inn in Chipping Norton. "Guy Fawkes was a man who planned to blow up Parliament but failed," she says. "On Guy Fawkes Day, children have an effigy of him and people throw money in their cups. His little gang still makes an appearance at the Crown and Cushion Inn, though, and have been seen a number of times by guests."

Owlpen Manor.
Owlpen Manor.

A particularly poignant story from the book is that of Maude and the monk. Maude was a nun who fell in love with a monk and broke her vow of chastity to meet with him. "Youthful passion had overtaken all reason," Diz explains. One night, the lovers were discovered, and Maude was eventually burned at the stake for breaking her vows. Today, her ghost haunts Room 7 of the Weston Manor Hotel in Weston-on-the-Green, England. "Guests there endure terrifying dreams for years to come," warns Diz.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2293

For more information visit www.dizwhite.com


Fun Facts:

Castle Leslie in County Monaghan, Ireland, is supposedly haunted by two ghosts. "Apparently, a young woman keeps showing up around the porch and driveway there," Stephanie says. "She was pregnant and had been turned out of the house where she worked. When she came to Castle Leslie, she was turned away, eventually died, and now haunts the castle. In Norman's bedroom, there's a carved black walnut four-poster bed that has the date in the 1600s when it was carved. Norman's ghost is said to appear in that bedroom, although I've never seen him."

Castle Leslie, Ireland.
Castle Leslie, Ireland.

Castle Leslie, Ireland.
Castle Leslie, Ireland.

Guests Include:

Diz White, Actress, Producer, Author of "HAUNTED COTSWOLDS," Los Angeles, California, USA.
www.dizwhite.com

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