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Make-A-Wish Foundation Launches Loyalty Miles Campaign

Make-A-Wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is calling on fliers to donate extra airline loyalty miles in a month-long, national campaign. Communications Manager Josh DeBerge calls airline miles one of the organization's "most critical resources," and for good reason. Each year, it grants wishes to 14,000 children with life-threatening diseases. Ranging from "being a cowboy," to "seeing pineapples grow," nearly 75 percent of wishes require air travel, and the foundation needs 2.5 billion frequent flier miles annually.

The miles campaign leads up to World Wish Day on April 29th, and since most wishes occur during the summer, every mile donated in the spring makes a difference. Supporters can visit wish.org/miles for more information.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo by Make-A-Wish®

Andaz Hotels Feature Local Artists With First-Ever Online Holiday Bazaar

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In the season of giving, nothing is more satisfying than knowing your gift is appreciated. Now, Andaz Hotels are ensuring online shoppers that their thoughtful presents will bring smiles near and far with the first-ever Andaz Holiday Bazaar. The boutique hotel group has partnered up with local artists from around the world (think trendsetting cities like New York, London, and Shanghai) to create an eclectic collection of items for purchase on Joyus.com. Not only will your loved one take pride knowing that the hip-hugging Alexander Campaz dress you bought them is one of a kind (seriously—only one was made), but you can take solace that all proceeds from the sale will be donated to Women for Women International (WfWI), a nonprofit organization helping to rebuild the lives of women in war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Rwanda.

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"Inspire, Educate, Raise Awareness, and Transform": Q&A with the Founders of Epic Road

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Mark Lakin and Marc Chafiian believe that travel can not only change a person, but the world. Longtime friends and world travelers, Lakin and Chafiian saw a major hole in the luxury travel market: High end packages that combine philanthropy with luxury. Together, they created Epic Road, a New York City-based luxury travel boutique that creates customized holidays combining adventure travel with charity and conservation work in Africa and the Arctic.

We sat down with the Lakin and Chafiian in their photography-filled gallery in Greenwich Village to talk about distributing solar powered lights to locals in Africa, transformative travel, and running from wild elephants.

What makes Epic Road different from other travel boutiques?
We try to blend experiences. Our clients will go on an incredible safari, and then on top of it they’ll have a humanitarian or conservation experience that’s meaningful for all parties. We find that people get very excited about it. Our real hope is that our clients' trips become a catalyst  for understanding, for empathy, and that we can create a movement for the issues we’re addressing when clients come home. Our thing is about positivity. It’s about going into a place and having fun, having an adventure.

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Q&A: Anthony Bourdain's Favorite Meals, Dream Destinations, and the Importance of Literacy

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On April 30, Anthony Bourdain hosts the 10th Annual Urban Assembly Bronx Academy of Letters benefit, which raises money for a New York school that focuses on reading and writing skills. On the night’s agenda: sampling food from the likes of Danny Bowien and Gabrielle Hamilton and cocktails by PDT’s Jim Meehan. (Tickets, which start at $250, can be found here.) Here, the peripatetic author-chef-TV personality talks about his new CNN show, Parts Unknown, why he loves to communicate in 140 characters or fewer, and other topics.

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Trip Doctor: Make-A-Wish Foundation Calls for Frequent-Flier Miles Donations

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Have you been hoarding those frequent-flier miles waiting for just the right occasion to use them? How about putting them to a good cause by gifting them to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. The organization is commemorating World Wish Day, April 29th, with a campaign to raise dollars and airline  miles for childrens' wishes involving travel. They've even launched a YouTube video explaining the program.

Each year, the foundation grants nearly 14,000 wishes—almost 75 percent of which require air travel. That means that Make-A-Wish uses 2.5 billion airline miles annually at a cost of nearly $40 million.
 
To continue its mission and help 10,000 children see the ocean, pet a kangaroo, or do anything else they can dream of, the organization is calling on supporters to donate some of those frequent-flier miles they've been racking up. As David Williams, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America explains, "donating airline miles or dollars will allow us to continue creating thousands of lasting moments for children." More on World Wish Day can be found at the Make-A-Wish Foundation's official site.

Peter Schlesinger is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by © Jon Feingersh/Blend Images/Corbis

Trip Doctor: Smart New Initiative Rethinks Bottled Water in Hotels

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You already knew that the bottle of Evian on your hotel room nightstand comes with a hefty price tag. But if you happen to see a swanky, Yves Behar-designed bottle next time you’re traveling, that charge will go to a good cause.

Last week, a number of luxury hotel chains, including several Ritz-Carltons, Dusit International, Banyan Tree, Six Senses, Soneva, and others have signed on to a new campaign called Whole World Water, whereby each property will filter, bottle, and sell their own water rather than importing. The proceeds go to various clean water programs around the world, yielding an estimated $1 billion-a-year to resolve our global water crisis.

Speaking about what prompted the idea, co-founder Jenifer Willing said, "There are one billion people who live without clean water, and one billion tourists travelling the globe each year." And the idea has (sea) legs: Richard Branson, Edward Norton, Treehugger founder Graham Hill, and Charity: Water president Cristoph Gorder are all pledging support. We couldn’t agree more.

Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of World Water

New Destination Club G2G to Donate $1 Billion to Charity

Getaway 2 Give

As I reported earlier, the UN World Tourism Organization has a new campaign encouraging international tourists to travel more responsibly. There are endless options, ranging from staying at locally-owned hotels to traveling by train and taking part in voluntourism. Then there’s newcomer destination company The Giving Plan. Billing itself as the world’s first philanthropic vacation club, its Getaway 2 Give Collection is aiming to donate $1 billion to charities every ten years.

So, how does that work?

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East Coast Hotel Deals Popping Up in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

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While some NYC hotel rooms are still occupied by those displaced from Hurricane Sandy (with FEMA even picking up the tab), there are still vacancies in New York City and along the East Coast—with a handful of fine properties flaunting noteworthy discounts and donations in the coming days and weeks:
 
New York City: The Surrey
Sandy Discount: $50 gift certificate to use for a future visit; $40 off spa treatments; and a glass of prosecco.
Sandy Donation: 5 percent of all spa packages go to the American Red Cross.
 
Newport, RI: Vanderbilt Grace (pictured, top)
Sandy Donation: $20 per person for Restaurant Week packages booked to the American Red Cross.
Sandy Discount: 2 nights accommodation; two champagne breakfasts; one lunch; one fine dining dinner; and wine upon arrival for $575.

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Donate Your Points and Miles for Hurricane Sandy Relief

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Few would've imagined that this week’s storm with the friendly-sounding name could wreak such havoc and devastation along the East Coast. In the wake of 20,055 flights cancellations due to Hurricane Sandy and with infrastructure is slowly coming back online, there are still an estimated 7.8 million people without power, billions of dollars in damage, and many whose lives will never be the same. They need help. Here are some easy ways for you to help out:

Based on contributions to the Red Cross Disaster Relief, American Airlines is giving AAdvantage members one-time bonus reward miles, starting with 250 miles for a minimum donation of $50. Go here for donation details.
 
Other airlines with charitable initiatives:
Continental Airlines
Delta Air Lines
United Airlines
US Airways

And hotels:
Choice Hotels International, Inc.
Drury Hotels
Hilton Worldwide
Marriott International
Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Please consider making a difference to those who desperately need it and give today.

Photo credit: iStock

Marriott to Build Resort—in Haiti!

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In January, it’ll be two years since Haiti suffered the ravages of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Life there since has not been easy—some 1.5 million Haitians still live in tents, daily routines, health, and education are still impacted by severe lack of infrastructure, and tourism has all but evaporated. As of today, there are only 500 hotel rooms in the Caribbean country's capital city. But that’s about to change.

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