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Ask T+L: Green Hotels, Land and Cruise Packages, TSA Safety Initiative

Q: Can you tell me about any new green hotels with a wildlife focus? —Lauren Finkelstein, Los Angeles, Calif.

A: “At the 40-suite Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa (emirateshotelsresorts.com; doubles from $1,392, all-inclusive), near Sydney, guests can catch a glimpse of the Peron’s tree frog. Birders love Uruguay’s Estancia Tierra Santa (estanciatierrasanta.com; doubles from $425, including breakfast and dinner) because the ranch is home to nandus and hummingbirds. And safari trekkers may see the Big Five, including lions, elephants, and leopards, while staying at the thatched-roof Bilila Lodge Kempinski (kempinski-bililalodge.com; doubles from $800, all-inclusive), in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.” —T+L associate editor Sarah Kantrowitz

Q: We’re interested in going to Montreal this winter. Where should we stay and what should we do? —Dale Ayers, Grand Rapids, Mich.

A: Winter is a great time to visit the city: hotel rates are low, and outdoor activities are plentiful. Start your trip at the Opus Hotel Montreal (doubles from $229), located on St.-Laurent Boulevard. The 136 colorful rooms have bright walls, vintage photographs, and L’Occitane bath products. Spend an afternoon exploring the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal, then, for dinner, head to nearby Club Chasse et Pêche (dinner for two $102) to sample dishes such as seared scallops with fennel purée. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider snowshoeing through the Parc Jean-Drapeau, the city’s largest park, or ice-skating at the Quays of the Old Port (quaysoftheoldport.com; rentals from $5).

Q: Do you know of any tour operators offering great land and cruise packages to Alaska next summer? —Jim Healy, Naples, Fla.

A: There are several options: the six-day Kenai Adventure from Off the Beaten Path (from $3,195 per person) brings travelers on daylong sails into Kenai Fjords National Park and hikes through the coastal Sitka spruce forest. Geographic Expeditions (800/777-8183; geoex.com; from $15,860 per person) arranges a 16-day Alaskan Inland Passage excursion with exclusive access into the 3.2 million–acre Glacier Bay National Park via yacht, followed by a stay at the Ultima Thule Lodge, with 12 well-equipped riverfront cabins. And Alaska Tour & Travel (prices vary) creates tailor-made itineraries for the region, with more than 100 land and cruise options, including heli-hiking outings in Denali National Park.

Q: I’ve heard that the TSA is requiring travelers to provide personal information as part of a safety initiative. Is this true? —Mary Young, Lakewood, Wash.

A: Yes, the Transportation Security Administration is rolling out Secure Flight, a vetting program designed to cut down on the misidentification of travelers—in other words, ensuring that you are not confused with someone else who’s on a government watch list. The program’s only immediate effect on your routine will be that you’ll need to provide your name exactly as it appears on your government-issued ID at the time of booking. Airlines may also ask you for your gender and birth date when booking a flight. Secure Flight aims to screen 100 percent of domestic passengers by early 2010 and all international passengers by the end of the same year.

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