Your West Valley News: Travel


  • Group forecasts Labor Day uptick

    A trade group for the nation's big airlines predicts that air travel over the Labor Day weekend will rise 2 percent from the same holiday last year.If correct, the forecast would be more good news for the airlines. Nine leading U.S. carriers earned $3.8 billion in the first half of this year — up from $1.6 billion a year ago — allowing them to pay down debt, reward shareholders and order new planes.Those airlines are running profit margins of 5 percent, up from 2.1 percent in the first half of last year, according to the trade group Airlines for America. Revenue rose 6 percent, while their largest expense, fuel, fell 2.4 percent. The airlines are Alaska, Allegiant, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United.Airlines are making record profits even as more and more flights are late or never take off. In the first half of 2014, U.S. airlines posted their worst on-time rate since 2008 and the highest cancellation rate since 2000, according to government figures.The airline group's economist, John Heimlich, told reporters on a conference call that bad weather was the biggest factor in delays and cancellations. He said that despite difficult weather and high federal taxes, "the airlines have coped very well."The airline group predicted Thursday that 14 million people would fly on U.S. airlines during the seven days ending Sept. 2, the day after Labor Day. The busiest day is expected to be the Friday before the holiday weekend.

  • Vegas’ storied Sahara casino reborn, transformed

    Las Vegas • The Moroccan-themed Sahara casino that once hosted Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and the Beatles seemed a lost cause in 2011, when its owners declared the 59-year-old property unprofitable and shut it down with little more than a vague promise to return.SBE Group CEO Sam Nazarian had purchased the Las Vegas Strip resort in 2007 with dreams of restoring its former glory, but the recession stalled the plans, driving the owners to close two of the three hotel towers and hawk rooms for $1 per night over Twitter.“There were some dark days,” said Sam Bakhshandehpour, president of Los Angeles-based SBE, which owns a variety of hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. “But we held on.”The reincarnated Sahara was scheduled to open Friday night as the vibrant SLS Las Vegas amid the glare of fireworks.As the casino reinvents itself, it’s ushering in a renaissance at the tired north end of the Las Vegas Strip, which for years had been home to empty lots, low-budget motels and half-built mega-resorts with their frozen construction cranes looming nearby.Since construction began on the SLS, which stands for “Style, Luxury, Service,” a Malaysian conglomerate announced plans to fold the half-finished Echelon casino into an Asian-themed Resorts World Las Vegas. Australian casino giant Crown Resorts has purchased the land where the New Frontier casino once stood. An open-air concert venue set to house the massive Rock in Rio USA music festival next spring is in the works, and Walgreens has started building a store across the street.

  • Get your pics on Route 66 photo tour

    There’s nothing like the wind-in-your-hair feeling of the open road. Interestingly, our state boasts the longest contiguous stretches of one of the most storied highways in America — Route 66, also known as The Mother Road. The route — which opened in 1926 and originally ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, Calif. — was a key thoroughfare for families migrating west during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s. It soon came to symbolize freedom and opportunity and still remains one of the most recognizable symbols of Americana around the world.Interest in Route 66 has increased in recent years, thanks in part to a number of television shows and books, including Jim Hinkley’s best-selling “Route 66 Backroads” and “Ghost Towns of Route 66,” featuring the stellar photography of travel journalist Kerrick James.You can experience that open-road freedom while capturing photos of Arizona’s Route 66 by traveling along with James on the “Roaming Arizona’s Route 66: A Through Each Others Eyes Self-Drive Photo Workshop” Aug. 27-29.This three-day trip, beginning at Kingman’s El Trovatore Motel, takes participates along the longest drivable piece of Route 66, including stops in Hackberry, Truxton, Peach Springs, Seligman and the Road Kill Cafe, Ash Fork, Williams, Flagstaff, Holbrook and Winslow. During the trip you will see and photograph — under James’ expert tutelage — the quirky and colorful bits of Route 66, while overnighting at vintage hotels like Holbrook’s Wigwam Motel.“Route 66 is about the automobile and the open road,” said James, who said you don’t need to be a photography expert to join the trip. “You can bring your favorite car — from your muscle car to your Porsche. It’s really fun to photograph from a moving car or other people in a moving car.”All you need is a working camera and the desire to experience a bit of local and national history. He’ll make sure you get where you need to go and have the guidance to capture some iconic images for your own scrapbooks.

Worth the Trip

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