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Take a Bus to Ski Shawnee

Take a Bus to Ski Shawnee

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for winter holidays, spending time with friends and family, and planning the perfect winter activity for your group. Well, look no further, because the best winter fun is right here. Get together your group of at least 35, or make it a real party with up to 56! Take a load off your shoulders and follow our plan for the best winter day trip that will have everyone buzzing: a Starr Charter trip to Shawnee Mountain in the Poconos.

 

3 Reasons Why You Need a Ski Trip

 

It’s social

There is no better time to catch up with friends and family than on a ski lift taking in the beautiful view. Get closer with friends you already know, or rekindle old friendships, while taking in breathtaking winter views or watching skiers and snowboarders below. If you’re with a group, there’s no better way to get to know each other than the ski lift. You’ll be so busy laughing and bonding, you won’t even realize how quickly you reached the top of the mountain.

It’s great exercise

In the wintertime, it can be hard to tear yourself away from a warm fire and a good book to go outside and get some exercise. Plus, with the holiday season there is sugary goodness all around. It can seem impossible to stay in shape during the winter with parties, holidays, and cold weather. Plus, why do the best movies always come out during the holidays? Instead of cursing the winter, why not incorporate it into your workout? Skiing downhill can burn up to 400 calories an hour and is an amazing full body workout.

Take your group out on the slopes, and then enjoy the latest Star Wars movie guilt free, with a big bowl of popcorn on your lap.

It’s a great photo op

Does your instagram need a spruce-up? What about your Facebook? Nothing says I’m active and have a perfect life like a cool picture of you tearing up the mountain. So much of Facebook is just pictures of people’s babies or boring rants. Do the world a service and add some spice. Or, for the more camera shy, act as a group photographer and capture the joyous moments for years to come. Making memories with friends is always fun and the mountain backdrop is the perfect place to do it. Plus, rosy cheeks from the cold are always a great look and show up beautifully in pictures.

 

So, you’ve decided you absolutely have to take a group skiing. But where do you go? There is really only one option if you want the best fun, services, and food. Plus, you get a handy discount if you book with Starr. Here are three reasons to take your group to Shawnee Mountain.

 

Endless Options

Do you have a group of younger kids? What about bored teenagers itching to try something new? Or maybe you’ve been dying to try snowboarding? At Shawnee Mountain, the options are endless. Take a chance with something new – you never know what kind of gems you will find. Take snow tubing, for example! It’s sledding, with an upgrade, perfect for someone who isn’t quite ready to strap on some skis or is craving a new adventure. If you’ve got some daredevils in your group, try Shawnee’s two fantastic terrain parks, where you can try out jumps and tricks for people of all levels and abilities. Or, channel your inner Lindsey Vonn and ski your heart out on any of their 23 slopes and trails.

Food, Glorious Food

As said before, hitting the slopes in quite a workout. Picture this: you’ve been snow tubing all day and worked up quite the appetite. It’s such a good time, you didn’t realize how hungry you were until you smelled the delicious aromas of one of Shawnees five amazing dining options. With countless options catered to fit any taste, it’s a far cry from the half frozen PB&J or stale fries offered at other mountains. You can sit down and nourish your mind and body. Then, after you’ve recharged, hit the mountain with a new burst of energy.

It’s Friendly for All Levels of Experience

If you’re sending a group to Shawnee, chances are not everyone will be the same level of experience and ability and that’s okay, in fact it’s encouraged. Only 25% of Shawnee’s trails are expert level, and the rest are geared toward beginners or just average skiers. Shawnee staff is trained to help everyone of all levels, through lessons on skiing or snowboarding and everything in between. Just like how you can’t have *NSYNC with only Justin Timberlake, Shawnee is here for you, regardless of your ability.

 

 

Now you’re almost all set with your trip to Shawnee. All you have to figure out is transportation. Here are three reasons why you need to choose Starr buses for your Shawnee Mountain experience.

 

Great prices

Between gas money, random stops, and bribing cashiers to let you use their bathroom, road trips can be shockingly expensive. Cut to the chase and choose Starr. With affordable prices and guaranteed satisfaction, you can be sure to avoid those little fees, and it will definitely  be more comfortable than the backseat of a minivan. Avoid the awkwardness of the whole ¨you owe me gas money¨ conversation and let yourself relax. With prices as low as $26 a person, it’s a sure deal, plus booking with Starr gets you a discount at Shawnee.

Safety First

Transportation can be such a bummer on a perfect day. You can have the perfect skiing trip planned, and have it all ruined by trying to make plans on who is going to drive who. Now, it’s your responsibility to deal with Tommy’s weird uncle, and figure out if Jill’s grandma is too old to drive. It’s understandable to be worried about safety so solve everyone’s problems by hiring a professional. You’ll give the entire group the thrill of a luxury bus and the parents peace of mind. With a professional and friendly driver, you’re sure to get to your destination on time and completely safe. With one of the best driving safety rates in the industry, you can be sure to trust Starr.

Starr solves all of your logistical nightmares

Okay, so you’re almost finished, you have booked, chosen and vetted every part of your trip, and you can almost taste the crisp mountain air – you’re so close. But then you try to figure out rides and it’s a nightmare. Julie can drive, but she has to be home by 2:30 for soccer, leaving three kids without a ride home. Kevin gets carsick, so he has to have a window seat, Anna and Hallie refuse go unless they can sit together, and if Robbie is anywhere near Colin, it’ll be a bloodbath.  Between dealing with the schedules and preferences of parents and kids it’s easy to get caught up in the mess. So take a Starr bus, and be guaranteed a safe, easy drop off and pick up. With the space and room of a deluxe bus, everyone can get what they want saving both the kids and parents of unneeded drama. Before you know it, you will have glided into Shawnee, stress free and ready to take on the mountain.

 

You’ve heard the facts, and the choice is clear. Skiing is the trip, Shawnee is the venue, and the Starr will take you there. All that is left is you. Make your group’s reservation with Shawnee Mountain online. Then, contact Starr’s Charter Department. Get ready for the jolly season and embrace all things winter.

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!

5 Best Practices I Learned When I Acted as a Tour Director

Managing a group of valuable Tour Directors is a responsibility I take very seriously. After taking on this responsibility in 2005, my only prior experience in Tour Directing was as a college student, home for the summer, and helping out a couple times at the last minute. Yes, I grew up hearing “on the road” stories from my dad at the dinner table and yes, I was quite familiar with public tours in general, but I had never regularly escorted them. Accordingly, I asked lots and lots of questions and learned as much as I could in a short time. But nothing educates you like “on the job experience.”

Here’s what I learned when I (officially) escorted my first public tour.

Tour Director, Carole with two other Caroles!

Get to know your guests!

One of the most rewarding facets of being a Tour Director is getting to know new people. It starts with the basics: Learning to recognize everyone – this is especially important since we don’t require name tags for our passengers and people change clothes each day so you can’t  try to memorize who they are by what they are wearing! I got to know my guests by sitting with them at meals, interacting with them on the bus, chatting with them in the hotel lobby, or spending time while on tour with them. People are all so different and each person has a story to tell.

Beat them to breakfast

If you tell our guests that breakfast is at 7am, expect them to be ready and waiting at 6:30am or before! If you get there before them, you can make sure the hotel is prepared with food, plates/utensils, seating and plenty of coffee! There is no “sleeping in” while you are on tour with a busload of guests who are used to waking up early!

Confirm, confirm, confirm!

You know the saying… “The best laid plans…” At Starr our Operations department crosses every “t” and dots every “i” but when you are on the road, anything can happen. Hotel contacts may forget to tell the front desk an arrival time, restaurants sometimes “lose” reservations and attractions may even “forget” to unlock their doors! All of these things have happened! So the most helpful thing I learned as a Tour Director is that you should always confirm (and sometimes re-confirm) all aspects of the itinerary. “Better Safe than Sorry!”

Driver, Tom & Tour Director, Chris on our 2011 Cross Country Tour

Build a rapport with your driver

Tour are most successful when the Driver and Tour Director work together. This starts with some pre-planning before the trip departs and continues all the way through the entire tour. Communication and mutual respect are the key ingredients. If the Driver sees a Tour Director is working hard and smart, s/he is more likely to do the same. Working together will make both the Tour Director and Driver have easier and more successful trips.

 

Balance your talking and quiet time and make the talking worthwhile

It’s 2017 and let’s face it, tour guests not only need some quiet time but lots of them bring their own personal electronics to keep them occupied. This means that a good Tour Director should know how to balance his or her time on the microphone.  In the morning, after a brief orientation, let the guests rest. After the first rest-stop it’s time to start talking and sharing the plans for the remainder of the day. Tour Directors should do their homework on their destinations so they can educate their guests. Story-telling is a great way to convey information as it has been proven that stories are more memorable than just plain lectures. Add in some games for the guests to have some fun and maybe get to know each other. On a full day’s drive, after lunch is another good time for quiet.  It’s all about the balance!

And of course I couldn’t just end at 5 so here’s my 6th and final Best Practice:

Have fun! You only live once so this should not only be fun for our guests, but for our Tour Directors too! Shared travel can lead to wonderful experiences and if you’re having fun, your guests are more likely to have fun, too! There’s nothing like seeing a destination through the eyes of 50 different people from all different backgrounds.

 

Being a Tour Director was extremely rewarding for me, both professionally and personally. Even though it’s lots and lots of hard work and preparation, the memories and experiences make it a wonderful experience.

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Sandy Borowsky, VP Marketing

 

Researching How To Spend Time “On Own”

Many of the trips we offer at Starr include free time to explore an area “on own.” Your free time on own might include seeing the sites, local attractions, or tasting the best of the local faire. However you choose to spend it, here are some great ways to research the best of the best in the area.

 

  1. tripadvisorTripAdvisor
    TripAdvisor is a travel website boasting reviews of the best and the worst. If you go to their website, you can type in your destination and what you’re searching for, such as “Boston restaurants” or “Cape Cod attractions” for example. The website then lists the top go-to places in the area by rank. The information and reviews are always current, so this is one website that we highly recommend!

 

  1. Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVBs)
    Local CVBs are known for their tourism marketing. They always have an abundance of brochures and can recommend the best and most popular places in town. It helps that they are knowledgeable of every area of town too, so they can easily locate attractions nearby where you will be. You can either visit the bureaus in person, or simply do a Google search for the town website and contact them.

 

  1. Google
    GoogleIn any case, there’s always good ole Google! You can simply go to www.google.com and type in your destination, like “Cape Cod,” and an array of websites will appear that can give you tourism information for your specific location. If you want to get a little more specific, you can type in “Cape Cod restaurants” or “best Cape Cod restaurants.” Many times, bloggers have already written about your chosen destination with helpful pointers on the go-to places in the area.

 

  1. Smartphones
    If you own a smartphone, then it probably comes equipped with the handy little “map” app. What’s neat about this is that you can actually search for restaurants, bars, shopping, fun, and so on, all in this little app. It can give you the reviews and distance from your location, too! So if you’re just at a loss for how to spend your free time, search on your map app for what’s nearby!

 

yelp

  1. Yelp
    Similar to TripAdvisor, Yelp is another great travel website. It lists reviews for local areas and allows you to search for specific places. If you’re in the mood for Mexican, you can input your destination and “Mexican” to see what restaurants are highly rated.

 

  1. grouponGroupon
    Once you have figured out how you’d like to spend your free time, then you can look into discounts. Groupon is an awesome website that lists deals that you can snag for dining and activities. It is also available as an app for your smartphone.

 

We love offering free time during travel because it allows you the freedom to customize your trip exactly how you’d like it. These websites and apps are great ways to research and plan the perfect getaway for you!

Safety First!

Safety First!

safety-rating-seal“Safety first” isn’t just an old saying that Mom used to say. It’s the first and most important priority at Starr! We pride ourselves on receiving the highest safety rating by the United States Department of Transportation and we aim to keep that every day.

More than just meeting federal safety requirements, Starr goes above and beyond to exceed them all. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), Starr exceeds all requirements in driver training and ongoing evaluations, vehicle safety maintenance, and safety regulations and compliance.

Starr’s CEO, Alan Glickman, is one of the biggest reasons why our safety is top-notch. He serves as the Chairman of the Strategic Safety Committee for the American Bus Association (ABA). As the Chairman, Glickman focuses on developing, reviewing, and directing ABA’s strategic safety goals, standards, and initiatives.

Our motorcoach drivers, mechanics and operations department are held to the highest possible standards. You can always trust that they undergo the most rigorous training and are regularly re-trained to ensure that safety is first. Every Starr driver goes through a company-mandated Driver Training Program before they can even begin to carry passengers. Starr and its drivers are continually being recognized for safety and superior service.

No matter who is driving or which motorcoach you are in, when you travel with Starr you are always in safe hands! Safety always comes first at Starr and we strive to empower our customers to make informed decisions about their safety as well.

Consider these tips to “Charter Smarter” from The Group Travel Leader:
– Choose an operator that performs regular inspections of all its buses, completes required maintenance and repairs, and ensures that all safety equipment is present and working properly.

– Hires well-qualified, properly licensed drivers with good safety records and ensures that they are medically fit to drive and that they obey all safety laws and regulations.
– Check to make sure that your chosen motorcoach operator is authorized to operate. All commercial bus operators that carry passengers across state lines must have a USDOT number and be authorized by the
Federal Motorcoach Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The FMCSA has free safety information and tools to help trip planners and passengers research bus safety. Visit FMCSA’s Look Before You Book website and take an active role in your safety.