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Participatory travel getaways

A growing number of travelers is choosing to have a better ‘user’ experience.
/ Source: TODAY

When it comes to travel, it’s not just the destination that matters. Perhaps even more important, it’s the experience you can have when you get there. But what kind of experience? Passive or active? A growing number of travelers is choosing the latter, especially if they get a chance to get beyond just watching, but actually participating, and learning. Participatory travel is what it’s all about. And there are some great places out there where you can go and actually make something while you’re there. “Today” travel editor Peter Greenberg has some ideas on what you can do on your next getaway.


Make your own hand cast at New Orleans Glass Works & Print Making Studio, New Orleans, LA- Located beside the Mississippi River in the American Sector, 3 blocks from the historical D-Day Museum lays a 25,000 sq ft non-profit glassworks studio that is free of charge to enter and watch master craftsmen collaborate with invited European masters from sister school, Louvre Museum of Decorative Art in Paris. Participate in a “Weekend Sampler” for beginners. This package includes torch working on Saturday morning, Glass Sculpturing Saturday afternoon and Sunday combine glass sculpting and casting. Those who participate in the class walk away with a complete box of objects they created. Objects have included paperweights, mugs, vessels, insects and sea creature creations. Weekend Sample package is $198.00 (everything included) and includes everything from instruction to material. For those individuals and families just dropping in, one can participate in the adventure of designing and creating their own hand blown glass sculptures as well and print making, Egyptian bead making, also known as torch working and hand casting or metal designing. Hand casting through a process of pushing your hand imprint into a sand mixture and pouring glass into the sand once it is carbonized, leaves a dimensional glass imprint of your hand that once cooled and engraved is your to keep. Price per impression is $96.00 each impression and $48.00 each impression after first five impressions. You can also make your glass impression and have it displayed in the Studio’s American Sign Language alphabet. General Prices for Glassblowing for 1hr is $65.00 (for 1-2 people) and $65.00 (for 3 -4 people), Metal Sculpting for 1 hr is $45.00 (for 1 -2 people) and $65.00 (for 3 - 4 people), Printmaking and Egyptian Glass Blowing for 1 hr is $48.00 (for 1 or 2 people) and $68.00 for 3 or 4 people). (504) 529-7279.

There’s also glassblowing at Firehouse Glass in Vancouver, Washington- learn how to glass blow, fuse & slump, bead make and etch etc., with one of Firehouse Glass Classes. This summer locals and travelers alike can join the Glass Sea Floats workshops. These are one-day classes with an emphasis on unique and interesting color applications, whereby students will learn some of the basics of glassblowing, while making impressive treasures to take home with them. Price for class is $150.00 (includes everything) per person and the classes can be scheduled ahead of time by calling (360) 695-2660 to schedule). In addition, all of art centers studios are available for the public to rent to create their own work anytime-once you learn the art of glass- for $30 per hour. All classes are open to students 16 years of age or older. Firehouse Glass also has one-day classes that we are running for those who want to “taste glass” and whet their appetite are their Beginning Blown Glass Ornaments classes on November 15th & 16th (each day is a separate class.) They are $150.00 and run from 9-5. Expect to learn the art of glassblowing using fused and slumped glass, glass bead making, and sandblasting. Visit,


Learn the art of Hawaiian Quilt Making with Hawaiian cultural expert, Auntie Hannah at the Waikiki Beach Marriott- Every Thursday from 2-3 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott, Auntie Hannah spends her leisure time teaching the secrets behind Hawaiian Quilt making, which in Hawaiian culture symbolize the possession of ones heart and soul and is typically made as a special gift passed on to family members. In this one-hour session, she provides a complimentary introduction to the history and culture behind Hawaiian Quilts. If a guest is interested in creating a Hawaiian Quilt, they can do so by purchasing a Hawaii Quilting Kit which costs $25.00 and includes the fabric, pattern, batting, spools of thread and a needle to create a square Hawaiian quilt that’s the size of a throw pillow. People can use the quilt on their bed for decorative purposes, or place them in a frame to hang in the house to show respect for the person who created it. Her quilt patterns are based on the kukui nut tree and in the class she explains the importance of Hawaii’s state tree in ancient Hawaiian times as she teaches how to sew the quilt along with the kukui nut pattern. Other classes are from 3-4p.m. on Thursdays and include flower lei making, coconut frond weaving, hula dancing lessons and a program called “Let’s Talk Story” in which Hawaiian stories are told in the ancient Hawaiian tradition of oral history. Besides the Hawaiian Quilt Kit, the Hawaiian classes are free to hotel guests and contact concierge at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort at (808) 922-6611


Lansdowne Resort, VA offers a “Culinary University” whereby one can check in for the weekend at their room rate of $119.00 and participate in their Saturday classes, November classes include home-style meals like soups and casseroles and classes are $65.00 per person (on top of room rate). On December 13th and 20th the “Culinary University” offers gingerbread making classes for $55 and you get to take your big gingerbread home. Learn how to make your own wine with The Lansdowne Winery Tour Package at $129 per person from now until November 13, 2003. After attending a seminar, guests can buy the grapes to take home and make their own wine. or call 703-729-8400.


Experiment in the art of the blending of wine at Chateau St. Jean Winery in Sonoma-Join other curious wine aficionados and blend your own Merlot. You even get to design your own label as you name and make your own wine. Becoming a “Winemaker for a Day” allows you to experience the challenge of blending four highly reputable Sonoma County Vineyards and Merlot. Learn the complex processes a winemaker faces in producing award-winning blends. The Duration of this class is 2 hours and, available seven days a week and you must make an appointment. The Wine educational Instructor will award the best tasting blend and you can bring it home along with your label. Classes are available to the public, the wine industry, and corporate groups and the class is $35.00 per person. (707) 833-4134.


On Radisson’s Seven Seas ships, there’s a comprehensive cooking school. This isn’t demonstration cooking — this is hands on, and cruisers go with the chefs to local markets when the ship is in port, and the it’s into the galley. One of the most popular experiences on the ship, there are many who take the cruise as an excuse to....participate in that cooking school.

Ramekins Sonoma Valley Culinary School in Sonoma, California-offers classes ranging from basic cooking knowledge to soups to ethnic specialties such as tamales, risotto and sushi. Ramekins specialize in hands-on and Chef’s Table classes allows individual’s to participate in the cooking classes themselves. Hand’s-on classes around 3 hours in length and include sample size portions of all food served, two glasses of wine (excluding bread and pastry classes), and take-home recipes for all the items created. Chef’s Table classes run a total of 4 hours that includes full meal portions served, with no limit of wine provided. Participants in these classes also receive and take home recipes of all items. Ramekins is open 7 days a week, however scheduled class days vary by week with a hands-on Thanksgiving Pie making class coming up November 25 and 26th that you get to take home. Classes typically range in cost from $85-$175 depending on the length, participation and topic of the class. Located right off of Sonoma Plaza in the heart of Sonoma’s “downtown” and the Wine Country, Ramekins also runs a 6-bedroom hotel on the second story of their complex. From now until November 30th weekend rates for rooms start at $185.00. Weekdays rates start at $150. In the Holiday Season room rates down to $150 on the weekends. Classes are listed online and can be booked online at or 707-933-0450.

Also, Guests can indulge their dream of being a chef and put their culinary skills to the test with The Sagamore’s “Chef For a Day” program. This three-and-a-half-hour, hands-on culinary experience at the Sagamore, a year-round luxury resort located on a private 70-acre island on Lake George in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains — allows guests to work side-by-side with some of the resort’s finest chefs, preparing daily specials and participating in preparation for dinner service at the four diamond Trillium restaurant. The Chef for the Day will also have the option to work with the resort’s pastry chef preparing desserts. The program is available to four guests a day, Tuesday through Saturday from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., at $75 per person. Participants will receive a Sagamore signature apron to commemorate their culinary experience, and can even test their creations by dining in The Trillium that evening.


Last but absolutely not least... most major hotels and resorts these days offer health clubs, spas and massage services. But at the Mandarin hotel in Miami, this hotel not only has a great spa that offers incredible massages, it also boasts its own Thai massage school! You don’t just go to this hotel to get a massage... you learn how to give one.


Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory-boat making classes. Classes are offered during the fall, winter & spring. The fall session beginning boat building class takes place on Thursdays from now through December 11, 2003 and January 8 to March 11, 2004 for the winter session. Students will learn about lofting, steam bending, planking and spar making. This course is $275. You can also build a Chesapeake Light Craft Kayak (16, 17, or 18 foot) in a course offered in October and another one in November. The cost of the course is $1,250, and besides taking home your own boat, you learn about glue and stitch construction. For $225, take part in the Marlinespike Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, November 15-16 and learn about splicing braided rope. Bring your kids with you for the Building a Pond Boat for Kids course on February 7, 2004 for $45.00 they will build a pond boat on their own. Another course is Building Your Own Adirondack Chair (December 6-7, February 21-22 for $225), and the chair will be ready for the finish of your choice by the end of the course. The boats range 50-150 lbs. in weight so many people drive home with the boat attached to the top. Or if they want to come for a day or a weekend, many people help with a project that the Wooden Boat Museum is working on to sell.