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Young Travel Leaders Q+A: Evan Reece of Liftopia.com

Evan Reece of Liftopia.com

At last month’s PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel:

Thirty-four-year-old Evan Reece is co-founder and CEO of Liftopia.com, the web’s go-to source for discounted ski lift tickets, equipment rentals, classes, meals, and activities at some 150+ resorts in North America, in addition to detailed resort profiles with trail maps and reviews from skiers and snowboarders. And while the company has been around since 2005, Reece and co-founder Ron Schneiderman (both former employees at Hotwire) didn’t start raising serious money until 2009. Liftopia.com is evolving rapidly.

Aside from its super-deep discounts (some tickets go for as much as 80 percent off!), the company is also working to change the marketplace overall by helping resorts manage and analyze inventory. It's working both the consumer and business angles, which we think is smart. And last year, they launched the Liftopia iPhone app. What’s next?

We sat down with Reece to ask him some questions:

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Four Outdoor Activities in Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

With seemingly endless outdoor activities and sunny days, Boulder, Colorado, is a mecca for healthy living (just ask the Olympians who live there). Four ways to get a Rocky Mountain high.

The Hike

Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks maintains more than 146 miles of trails, many in view of the city’s beloved Flatiron rock formations. On a naturalist-led night hike, you might encounter mule deer and even wide-eyed great horned owls in the glow of the moon.

The Spa

Book a holistic treatment at downtown’s Sensorielle Day Spa (1801 13th St.). The product ingredients—from lavender to Saint-John’s-wort—are sourced locally by Austrian expat Helena Meyer, whose naturopathic ancestors treated the Hapsburg court.

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Pacific Northwest in Time-Lapse

I’m a sucker for time-lapse photography. I’m also a sucker for the Pacific Northwest. Combine the two and you have this mesmerizing work—some 260,000 stitched-together pics—from Portland-based photographer John Eklund, who was kind enough to let us share it.

Rich Beattie is the executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

New Resort Inside Malaysian National Park

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This July marked the opening of Gaya Island Resort off the coast of Malaysian Borneo. With 120 villas overlooking the South China Sea, the hotel takes full advantage of their stunning national park space with a resident naturalist and marine biologist, private yacht, and underwater photography classes. This land is as pristine as it gets.

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Tweet-Up: Adventure Travel Tips

Craving a little thrill in your life? Not sure where to start or what to look for? Then join us tomorrow for a live tweet-up—hosted by Nikki Goldstein, editorial assistant and adventure traveler—and we’ll help get you squared away! We’ve gathered a large panel—the biggest we’ve ever had!—and they’re all eager to help you get your adventure on. We’ll talk packing tips, family adventure, booking on a budget, and more!

The panel includes:

Agatha Capacchione, MFA Marketing & Public Relations, @MissyFarrenPR
Brad Moss, ROW Adventures, @ROWAdventures
Carol Mueller, Travel Guard, @TravelGuard
Chris Doyle, Adventure Travel Trade Association, @AdventureTweets
Dan Austin, Austin-Lehman Adventures, @AustinLehman
Kathy Stewart, Butterfield & Robinson, @ButterfieldTrav
Laura Allen, Century Travel, @CenturyTvl
Mary Rose McKinnon, L.L. Bean, @LLBeanHuntFish
Richard Wiese, Born to Explore, @Born2ExploreTV

How does it work?

1. Log in to Twitter any time from 2–3 p.m. ET and be sure to follow the chat hosts: @TravlandLeisure and @nikkigoldstein
2. Use the hashtag #TL_Chat to follow.
3. To keep up with the chat in real time, head over to http://tweetchat.com/room/tl_chat
4. We'll pulse out some questions for our expert panel to answer, but feel free to post your own answers to our questions! Or ask your own questions! Take advantage of this special access to this fab panel and get some expert travel advice.

We hope to "see" you there!

Just Back: Exploring South Africa with World's Best Winner Micato Safaris

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We here at T+L know that our readers are the savviest around. So when I decided to go to South Africa essentially on a whim with three weeks’ notice, I decided it would be prudent to leave the trip planning to the experts. And if Micato Safaris’ impressive showing in our annual World’s Best Awards is anything to go by—they were voted Top Safari Outfitter for the ninth year running in the 2012 survey, out in the August issue—they must be the best.

The Micato experience begins before you’ve even boarded your flight, with the delivery of a mammoth safari bag filled with a bound itinerary, helpful packing list, and some gifts (a handy flashlight and a stylish passport holder), all wrapped in animal-print tissue paper to get you in the safari spirit. But even for someone like me, who likes to plot out every detail on my trips, it was nice to surrender myself to someone else’s expertise for a week and let them handle the logistics.

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Twin Farms Extends Family Weeks

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Darling cottages decorated with private art collections, bicycle trails through wildflow-strewn meadows, farm-to-table dinners of grilled halibut and prawn gnocchi in saffron broth are all part of the experience at Twin Farms, a luxury resort and spa in Barnard, Vermont.

Though this all-inclusive retreat has traditionally only opened its doors to families for select days throughout the year, they're now expanding their dates so that families can enjoy all the resort has to offer (2012 family days include July 29-August 3, August 31-September 4, November 19-25, December 7-10, and December 14-19). After all, Twin Farms has 300 acres of forests, streams, and fields—who else has enough energy to take advantage of it all besides kids? 

Corinne White is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure. 

Photo courtesy of Twin Farms 

Tech Thursday: Two Fab (and Secure) Camera Bags

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Anyone with an SLR camera knows there are about a million cases to choose from to lug around your camera, lenses, and accessories. But recently, I was shown a couple of cases from Lowepro that I absolutely love. The Flipside Sport (pictured above) is a backpack-style case that’s perfect for outdoor/adventure photography. It fits securely over your shoulders, but also has an extra strap that clasps around your waist. Plus, since it’s made for outdoor activity, there’s a special H2O compartment on the side that’s designed to allow a sports straw to feed through, so you can rehydrate without digging through your bag. On the other side? A convenient spot to store a modest-sized tripod.

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Book Now! T+L Trip of the Month - Exploring Alaska with Black Tomato

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Travel + Leisure's March Trip of the Month is an adventure in the far north with U.S.- and U.K.-based tour operator Black Tomato. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.

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Take a Smithsonian Scavenger Hunt

cellphone fantasy coffin

Over the cold MLK weekend, my kids and I headed south to meet some cousins in Washington, D.C. and had the chance to test-drive a Smithsonian Art Adventure mobile-phone-based scavenger hunt from Stray Boots.

On Sunday morning, bundled up and armed with instructions for the hunt (the company’s website calls them “interactive walking tours” and “urban games”), we headed to the designated starting point, the Smithsonian Castle, punched our confirmation code into the phone, and the questions started coming.

Players participate via text message or, by using a smartphone, type answers into a web interface.  Points are awarded for correct answers and hints are available for incorrect ones, and additional interesting trivia is served up with each answer.  The cost to play is about the same as joining a human-hosted walking tour, but the phone-delivered narrative allows for more pausing, food breaks, and general messing-around, which suited our group better.

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