September 2017 - Starr Tours & Charters
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All you need to know about Starr’s Casino Bus Trips

“I took two hundred bucks with me, lost it all, and then won five hundred back! So yes, I guess you can say I had a good day!”

“Let me tell you, here’s what I do. We get to the Tropicana at noon, so I go in and I have myself a little meal. Then I go sit on the beach and get some Vitamin D and people watch for an hour or two—unless it’s raining and then I go straight to my favorite machine. Then I hang out with my girls and sometimes I win a little something!”

These are just some of the stories we hear from our frequent riders on our regular trips (also known as “line runs”) to Atlantic City, NJ and Bethlehem, PA. That’s right! In addition to our full assortment of bus trips to marvelous destinations, Starr also runs buses on a weekly basis to the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, as well as Resorts, Tropicana, and Bally’s Casinos in Atlantic City. If you’re looking for a quick one day trip that you don’t have to plan too far in advance, this is a good option for you.

While all of our bus pickups for casino line runs are in New Jersey, passengers in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County are only 25-35 minutes from the closest pickup! Call Starr and we’ll help you find the closest one for you.

 

We have a few different bus options if you’d like to try your luck!

 

Click here to view our Atlantic City bus schedule (Sundays & Fridays)

Pay only $30 for a round trip ticket and you receive $30 Slot Play back for the casino of your choosing! Please purchase your ticket up to 7 days in advance at the location where you will board the bus. The pickup locations are Marazzo’s Thriftway (Ewing), Fred & Pete’s Deli (Mercerville), The Sticky Wicket (Hamilton), Mastoris Diner (Bordentown), and Country Farms (Southampton, NJ).

When you arrive the casino of your choice, a greeter will board the bus to load up your slot play card. From there, you have about five hours to enjoy your time at the casino. The driver will give you a departure time so you know when to be back to board the bus for your return trip in the evening.

 

Tropicana Casino, Atlantic City

Click here to view our FREE Bus to the Tropicana (Mondays)

The Monday bus is sponsored by the Tropicana, so as long as people are going we’ll be running it! There is no casino bonus for this bus but the ride is free, all you need to do is make a reservation. Seats can fill up (especially in the summertime) so we highly recommend you make your reservation as early as possible, up to seven days in advance. We will accept reservations on a first come, first serve basis on Monday morning.

Starting October 9th, 2017, we will be assigning seats for everyone who rides this bus. Call early in the week if you like to sit in seats closer to the front of the bus. The pickup locations for this trip are the AMC Hamilton 24, Mastoris Diner (Bordentown), Florence Library (Roebling), and the Homestead at Mansfield (Columbus). Note that you do not have to be a resident of the Homestead community to board here. Simply tell the security guard at the gate you are taking the bus to Atlantic City!

 

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem

Click here to view the Sands Casino Bus Schedule (Tuesdays)

This bus runs every Tuesday in April through November. The Sands is a beautiful casino in Bethlehem PA, and is chock full of delicious restaurants, luxurious shops, and more! The trip is $30, and you receive $35 Slot Play from the casino. The pickups for this trip are Fred & Pete’s Deli (Mercerville), Marazzo’s Thriftway (Ewing), Orlando’s Café (Hopewell), and the Hampton Inn (Flemington). Orlando’s is our newest pickup for the Sands, conveniently located in Hopewell off Route 31. For this trip, purchase your ticket at the pickup location UNLESS you will be boarding at Flemington, in which case please call 609-587-6842 to make your reservation. Like all of the other casino trips with Starr, please make your reservation up to 7 days in advance to secure your seat!

 

As always, call 609-587-0626, extension 0 for the operator, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions about our casino buses.

 

Bonne Chance!

The Birth of a Birthday Bash

Our 70th Birthday Bash was such a success (4 sold out buses!) that I had to figure out what to do for next year. I wanted to think of a destination we hadn’t toured in a while that people would get excited about traveling to. I looked back in the archives and discovered that we hadn’t visited Myrtle Beach in a few years. Since I knew two people in the office who LOVED vacationing in Myrtle Beach (Tour Director, Karen Coate, and Charter Representative, Jeanette Gilmore), I decided to dig in to this vacation destination. Having never been to Myrtle Beach myself, I knew I had a lot to learn.

Myrtle Beach Skyline

First, I logged onto Tripadvisor, a resource I frequently use to assist in tour planning. I look for the most popular things to do in the area and then I read the reviews. In this case I needed to look at Myrtle Beach as well as North Myrtle Beach.  North Myrtle was created in 1968 from four existing municipalities north of Myrtle Beach, and serves as one of the primary tourist towns along the Grand Strand. I put myself in my tour guest’s “seat” and imagine if they would like to do the things that are top attractions in the area. After I make a list of these attractions, I move on to hotels.

Myrtle Beach

Since Starr attends the American Bus Association convention each January, we meet with Destination Marketing Organizations, hoteliers, attractions, and restaurant contacts. We save all of our information for times like these where we need info to build a bus tour. Now I go through and mine this information for hotels that fit the needs of our tour guests. In Myrtle Beach there are so many beachfront properties that we have lots to choose from BUT we have to be careful to choose a property that is group friendly, clean, and updated.

Next, it’s time to select a date for our trip. This year we traveled to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in September so I know I want to travel to Myrtle Beach in the fall. The hotels can’t even open up to groups in the summer as they are too busy. September can still be hot so I opt for October. This is when I can use the newest buses in our inventory since we are not as busy with other tours.

With 4 buses and the possibility for more, I have to find a hotel large enough to host us in Myrtle Beach and I also need to find properties en route to/from Myrtle Beach since we can’t travel there in 1 day. This is a large undertaking. Once I find the hotels, I need to make sure they all have availability to host us and that they will be able to handle the large number of guests. It’s important to me that our guests don’t feel like a “herd of cattle” so I will most likely split the en route properties up and have no more than 2 buses in each property.

Pirates Voyage Dinner Show
ONE the Show

Since shows are so popular in Myrtle Beach, I pick my top 4-6 favorites and review their schedules and prices. Then I start to piece together the schedule. This is not an easy task and is very much like a puzzle.

One of the resources I have been talking with is Sandy Haines at Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sandy suggested I do a “site inspection” of the area. A good idea – I always like to check out an area before we do a new tour there. Even though the summer is my busiest time of year in the office (as we prepare for busy fall outbound and build tours for the following year), I carve a 3-day trip into my calendar. A tourism friend offers to host me at her home which is a great way for me to get the local flavor of the area and learn some background info that I may not have learned! I rented a car and set up my appointments to meet with tourism partners, tour hotels, and sample the shows. My three days were jam packed with appointments, meetings, tours, food, and fabulous performances! I asked a lot of questions, and took lots of notes to help me remember all that I saw. Southern Hospitality was certainly displayed during my whirlwind trip to Myrtle Beach! Below are some pictures of my many stops. You can see how busy I was!

As I boarded my plane home, ideas raced around in my head so once I was seated (in a middle seat, of course!), I opened my computer and put together the final itinerary. Now it’s time to make the reservations, sign the contracts, and start promoting this wonderful trip. I am so excited to go back and bring 200 (or more!) of my closest friends! I hope you can join me!

Click here to view this tour on our website for more information and to reserve your seat!

Sandy Borowsky
Vice President, Tours

Giant Crab – Waterfront Private Dining Room

 

Brookgreen Gardens

 

Pirates Voyage Dinner show

 

Barefoot Princess II Paddlewheeler

 

Carolina Opry

Top 10 Reasons I Loved Starr’s 70th Birthday Bash

Last week, we celebrated Starr’s 70th Birthday with 4 bus loads of passengers from all over the tri-state area. This fabulous 6 day vacation to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee was filled with great shows, unique attractions, lots of food and many fond memories.

Here are my Top 10 Reasons why I loved Starr’s 70th Birthday Bash:

10. I got to meet 200 Starr bus tour travelers-some new and some seasoned Starr travelers. I learned what they loved about Starr and what we can improve on. I heard about so many experiences and wonderful memories. Our travelers were so incredibly thankful and kind and my heart was full hearing so many stories.

9. I got to see 4 wonderful Starr Drivers and Tour Directors in action and I learned why they are so beloved by Starr travelers.

8. I got to work with and get to know 3 wonderful tourism partners who planned and executed this wonderful trip. Thanks to Pete and Andrew of Smoky Mountain Resorts and Pamela from Fee-Hedrick Entertainment!

7. I was introduced to a wonderful city, Pigeon Forge, that I am certain I would not have visited if it wasn’t for Starr.

6. I saw 6 amazing shows from comedy to Broadway-style, from Circus-style to variety. They were all different and all terrific. Who knew Pigeon Forge offered such world-class entertainment!

5. I crossed another National Park off my bucket list. Great Smoky Mountains National Park was gorgeous and offered lots of history.

4. I ate and ate and ate! OK, it was mostly chicken but who doesn’t like fried chicken – and calories eaten on “vacation” don’t count!

3. We asked our travel partners across the USA to donate items that we could raffle off as part of our birthday celebration. We collected over 25 terrific giveaways including a fit-bit and a beautiful hand-made bowl from Corning Museum of Glass. These gifts, along with Starr gift cards that we supplemented, made this a fun event with lots of happy winners!

2. I learned best practices as we prepare for our 71st Birthday Bash in Myrtle Beach next October.

And my #1 reason…
I was able to experience this with my parents, the co-owners of Starr and the people behind the scenes who have kept this company going strong for the last 45 years!

For more photos, check out our Facebook page!

Stay tuned for next week when I share a behind the scenes look at what goes into planning a Birthday Bash tour! I can’t wait for our 71st Birthday Bash in Myrtle Beach next year – come join me!

Happy travels,
Sandy Borowsky
Vice President and 3rd Generation Starr Owner

Creative Ways to Save Money for Your Next Vacation

You need a vacation now more than ever, even if you are retired and no longer have to worry about the stresses of the daily grind. But vacations cost money and everyone is on a budget these days, so how do you find the extra money to fund your vacation? Start saving now! Even if you are living on a very limited budget, it’s not impossible, you just have to get creative. By adopting a few new creative practices to start saving, over time you can afford a vacation to your dream location. Plus, the reward will be even sweeter knowing all of the work you put into earning it!

First things first, decide where you want to go and calculate how much you’ll need to save to get there! Then, keep your dream vacation at the forefront of your mind. Label your change jar with the destination. Print out and post pictures of the sights you want to see all around your house. Read travel magazines, start doing your research and planning for it. By keeping your vacation at the forefront of your mind, it will be easier to make small sacrifices along the way to make your dream a reality. Oh, and be sure to designate a separate account just for your vacation savings!

Here are a few suggestions for creative ways to save money for your next trip!

Purge and then say “No” to more stuff:
Stop collecting and start selling! Purge your closets and shelves to clear out the clutter and then sell them at a consignment store, a yard sale, Craigslist, ebay, Facebook, or Amazon (be sure to go with the “Sell as an Individual” option). You’ll be surprised at how much money you can raise when someone finds a treasure in your “trash.” Then, once those shelves are cleared off, don’t fill them up with more things! Before purchasing an item, ask yourself, “do I really need this?” Even more fun, “what creative solution can I come up with from things I already have to create what I need?” Prioritize your spending on experiences and memories over things.

Turn your extra savings into actual savings, and round your expenses to the nearest dollar:
– Most stores these days have a line at the bottom of the receipt that tells you how much you saved on your shopping trip for that day. Challenge yourself to find extra coupons and sales to see how high you make your savings. Then take that amount at the bottom of your receipt and immediately transfer it into your vacation account. Money saved is money earned.
– Many banks now offer the opportunity to round all of your purchases to the nearest dollar by placing the “spare change” into a separate savings account. Say you spent $47.23 at the grocery store – your bank would round your charge up to $48 and place the spare 77 cents change into a separate savings account. It’s like a virtual spare change jar, and just like the real life counterpart, a little bit can add up to a lot over time.
– Don’t forget the timeless spare change jar. Label it with your dream vacation and empty your pockets every evening!

Small sacrifices can add up to big savings:
– Time yourself and see if you can gradually decrease your shower time.
– If you’re in the habit of falling asleep with the TV on, set a timer on your TV so that it shuts off shortly after you shut your eyes.
– Avoid phantom energy loss by unplugging items when not in use. Even a charging cable that isn’t connected to your device drains a small amount of energy while it is plugged in; use a power strip with an on/off switch to make turning off these items even easier.
– Cancel unused subscriptions. That magazine you never seem to get around to reading, the club membership you never actually advantage of,  it’s time to get rid of them. Those monthly membership fees can add up, as you’ll soon find out as soon as you start channeling the subscription fee you would have spent on them into your vacation savings account. You can always resubscribe after you get back!
– Switch to generic and store brand items of your favorite products. They’re always cheaper and if you don’t like them, you can always switch back next time you need to restock.
– Downgrade your cable, phone, and internet. Cancel that premium channel subscription that you only seem to watch once a month. Visit your local library to rent movies and TV shows.

Put your money where your mouth is:
– Eat in more and get creative with your meal planning. How many meals can you plan that do not include meat? What is the cheapest meal you can create? What can you put together using only the foods currently found in your pantry?
– Invite friends over for a potluck instead of going out to dinner.
– Plan your meals around your grocery store’s sale flyer and base your recipes only on what you can purchase on sale and what is already in your pantry.
– Take a list with you to the grocery store and stick to it. No extra purchases because something caught your eye.
– Brown bag your meals and take full advantage of leftovers.

Get creative:
– Sell what you’re good at. If you have a crafty hobby that you love to do, consider making it work for you by selling your items to friends or online.
– Cut back on gift spending by giving homemade items such as that crafty item we just mentioned, or something you cooked. Gifts made by your hands, from your heart, are better than anything you could possibly find in a store.

 

 

Try keeping track of all of your spending for a month to see where you can cut back. You may think that your trips to Starbucks are just an occasional treat until you look at your monthly record and realize you go there three times a week! Budget your spending and keep your eye on the prize!

Packaged group travel such as Starr’s bus trip offers can save you a lot of money in the long run! We shop around for the best deals on hotels and get discounts only accessible to groups and tour providers. Take a look at what Starr has to offer!

 

What ideas do you have for saving money for your next vacation?

The Importance of Travel – For Retirees!

There have been countless articles written on the benefits of using your paid vacation time and numerous commentary about how little vacation time is actually put to use in America, but did you know that taking a vacation is just as important for retirees? Retirement, often touted as the vacation that never ends, is not immune to the human desire for daily routine. For those that get involved in volunteering, community events, and part-time jobs, retirement can just be a transition from one 9-5 work routine to another of a different color. Whether your day consists of mundane daily chores, errands, and TV shows, or a myriad of social activities and hobbies, breaking away from your daily routine is just as important now as it was when you were working.

Here are three reasons to keep enjoying vacation time long into your retirement years:

  1. For your Mind:
    Beyond the well known stress relief that getting away on vacation provides, taking a break from your daily routine can also promote mental stimulation in the form of challenges, learning, and new experiences. When we travel outside of our comfort zone, we’re more likely to embrace new experiences, try new foods, learn first-hand about new people, cultures, and histories. We expand our mind by expanding our view of the world to encompass that which can not be found in our own backyard or community clubhouse.
  2. For your Body:
    Travel is an investment in yourself and healthy aging. Stress reduction from taking a vacation results in lower risks of heart disease and high blood pressure, and a decrease in adrenal dysfunction that can alter your immune system. The lure of the next adventure creates an incentive for staying healthy and the excitement of new experiences inspires us to be more active in our exploration of a new or favored landscape.
  3. For your Spirit:
    Overcome loneliness, strengthen your relationships, enhance your sense of self, and fulfill your dreams – all of these can be attained through travel. Break out of your habit of isolating yourself at home by stepping into a new adventure with a group. Build stronger relationships with friends and loved ones through shared experiences and memories made. Redefine yourself from “senior retiree” to “traveler” and discover just what you are capable of achieving. Fulfill your lifelong dreams of rafting down a river, flying across the ocean to experience a foreign country, or finally getting to see our nation’s great landmarks and national parks.

Taking a vacation has the power to make us feel more alive and enhance our feelings of accomplishment. Revitalize your mind, body, and spirit with new experiences that bring you out of the comfort zone of your daily routine to challenge you to move, and stretch your mind. The entire world is out there waiting for you to discover it. Where will you begin?

Starr makes it easy to travel and experience new places by providing quality packaged tours – Starr takes care of all of the details so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation! Travel Cross Country with us by bus! Fly off to Ireland and explore the Emerald Isle! Cruise the Panama Canal! Visit five national parks out west! Experience the Kentucky Derby, and so much more! And when traveling by bus, we encourage you to make new friends and learn about other destinations that may tempt you. Take a look at our website to see all that we have to offer!

Stay tuned next week for creative ways to save money for your next vacation!