Take advantage of the years when your family travel plans are not limited by school holidays and summer vacation.

Travel with your toddlers! You'll expand their world and plant the seed of adventure early. (And have fun in the process.)

Here are a handful of ideas to consider:  

Resort pool

Coconut Bay Beach Resort & Spa, St Lucia.  

At this Caribbean Resort, children will learn about their destination through activities designed for each age group.  The SCOUTS program – Seeing, Crafting, Observing, Understanding, Tasting, St. Lucia) is infused in the fun you’ll find headquartered within the 50,000 square foot Cocoland Kidz Club. Expect youngsters  to access a mini zipline and rock wall, a petting zoo and plenty of water play. Three of five resort pools cater to kids and include a lazy river and a zero entry splash pool. Savvy youngsters can order colorful slushies and fruity drinks at their own swim up bar. When parents opt for a night on their own, kids can enjoy their own Pirates Night or Movie Night on the Splash Lawn.

Contact: www.cbayresort.com

 for resort

FDR Resort, Jamaica.

 There is nothing like an afternoon splashing in the surf and building sand castles to wear out an active toddler. At the FDR Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, once Junior goes down, a Vacation Nanny is available to sit by his side, while you enjoy an afternoon playing golf, scuba diving or exploring by kayak.  Check in to this all-inclusive seaside getaway, and meet your CPR-trained Vacation Nanny who will assist you and your family in having the most relaxing time possible. Trained in child care and housekeeping, this professional staff member’s goal is to fill in where needed, whether by looking after youngsters in the pool, or making sure the kids’ favorite snacks are on hand in the room.  Contact:  www.fdrholidays.com.

 loews miami

Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami Beach, FL. 

This oceanfront resort, the recipient of a recent $50 million redesign, offers a bounty of family enticements via the Loews Loves Kids program. Families can choose to enjoy the benefits of direct beach access (which makes castle building a breeze) or head to the zero entry pool where pop fountains add to the vacation vibe.  Celebrate in style by spending the day with access to a SOAK cabana where air conditioning, flat screen TVs,  private butler service and rooftop terraces will convince the kids they’ve reached VIP status. Take a pizza-making class together or take advantage of Family Happy Hour during which time kids can enjoy complimentary lawn games while parents sip cocktails, join in or cheer them on.

Contact: www.LoewsHotels.com/MiamiBeach

 Atlantis

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

For families that check into The Coral, the resort’s recently revamped, family-centric tower, a new level of luxury awaits. Compare notes with the Kids Concierge and in a flash, the dreams of mini-travelers (and their parents) will soon be a reality. From scheduling family swims with the dolphins to registering for Sea Squirts, an interactive marine program where youngsters can feed baby stingrays, sharks and schools of fish, the concierge is on hand to help create itineraries and smooth any bumps on the path to a memorable vacation. Ask about helping the Atlantis Aquarists guide Green Sea Turtle hatchlings to the sea.

Contact: www.AtlantisBahamas.com

hike with toddlers REI

Kids on the Trail. 

Getting kids outside early and often is likely to instill a lifetime love of nature.  Visit a local trail and watch as your child explores with wonder, turning over rocks and observing small animals and birds. Choose a loop trail or plan a scavenger hunt. Bring along a picnic and plenty of water or juice so that the whole family stays hydrated. After a few close-to-home practice rounds, include nature walks and hiking in your family vacation travel plans. In time, you’ll be scaling heights.  

Contact: www.childrenandnature.orgwww.Trails.com; www.NPS.gov.

Published in Resorts

Quick, what's the difference between a big resort hotel and the Wizard of Oz's Emerald City? 

Answer: A story. 

The wizard's creator, L. Frank Baum, was a frequent visitor to Coronado, California, and the town's beating heart, the Hotel del Coronado ("The Del" to the locals). His visits were so frequent, in fact, that his editor arranged for the rental of a separate house—off of "The Del" property—so that he might get away from the perpetual distraction of the hotel and get some writing done. The hotel and his whimsical experiences there clearly influenced his imaginings of Oz; some of Baum's illustrations of the Emerald City even look suspiciously like the iconic Queen Ann-style hotel. 

Coronado still retains much of what attracted Baum (not the least of which is its own, amazing story), and it has also developed an even richer offering of experiences, accommodation, dining choices, and activities that (fortunately for his editor) didn't exist in Baum's day. And because families have always been such a part of the Coronado story, much of that new growth is still family-friendly. 

The crown jewel of Coronado is, of course, the Hotel Del Coronado.

Before it was completed in 1877 there was little more than dust and scattered tufts of pampas grass. But the dreams and vision that brought forth the grand hotel spread outward, and shortly the whole island was transformed into the lush, green, and (relatively) tranquil community you see today. 

A stroll through the exquisite Coronado neighborhoods is a hint of the island's military presence on its north side. Many current and former navy personnel have homes here, and that military precision shows in the beautifully kept homes and immaculate landscaping (you could bounce a quarter off the lawns). But perhaps a better way to stroll the area around the Hotel Del is to tag along with Coronado Touring  for a truly fun and fascinating walking tour. The grand and historic feel of the Hotel Del suggests a great story all its own, and a couple of hours with Coronado Touring confirms it.

You'll even see "The Oz House", Mr. Baum's former "off-site" residence. If you can do this early in your Coronado visit, you'll then see the place with a sense of wonder you might otherwise miss (how else would you know about the secret message in the sand dunes?). 

The walking tour begins in the Glorietta Bay Inn, which is itself significant in the story, as it's principle building was the home of Coronado's greatest benefactor and "savior" of the Hotel Del dream, John Spreckels. The Glorietta is a terrific option to the Del Coronado, as you are just across the street from the Del but can choose from luxurious and historic rooms in Spreckels's original house or more modern and affordable rooms of various sizes throughout the rest of the hotel. The entire property is immaculately kept and the friendly staff clearly take their cue from, Claudia, the Glorietta's gregarious and hospitable manager. 

The vivid and fascinating history of the island lends a richer tone to everything else you experience afterward. Just a few blocks from the Hotel Del, Clayton's Coffee Shop could be just a nifty 50's-themed diner (albeit with great food and sumptuous milkshakes), but now it feels like a time machine and you wouldn't be surprised to see Mr. Baum himself at the counter reading the day's paper over a coffee and apple pie.

Two more blocks along Orange Avenue will find you transported back to that golden age of theatre at the incredibly restored Village Theatre and two blocks back on Orange Avenue from Clayton's will satisfy that old fashioned summer yen for handcrafted ice cream at the Moo Time Creamery.

And of course many of the shops at the Hotel del Coronado itself recapture that historic feel, like at Spreckels Sweets & Treats, where you can get (among loads of other things) the same fudge or saltwater taffy that Frank Baum undoubtedly sampled. 

But while Coronado Island certainly honors its rich history, it has grown up nicely with terrific contemporary offerings. Head south along the narrow peninsula (Coronado is technically not an island) where you'll find the contemporary and luxurious Loews Coronado Bay Resort one of Parents Magazine's "10 Best Family Beach Resorts".

The sheer luster in the recently refurbished interior betrays the many family-oriented amenities, including poolside movies (at just one of the three pools!), a dedicated kids' activity desk, and rides in one of their authentic Venetian gondolas. And it's just a short walk or free shuttle to the quiet Silver Strand State Beach, which might seem like your own private beach, relative to crowds at Coronado Beach. 

Further along Orange Avenue from the Hotel Del on the north side of the Island you'll find a host of shops, restaurants, and activities surrounding the Ferry Landing. Nearby the Ferry Landing is the sumptuous Coronado Island Marriott Resort, with exquisite views over the bay to the beautiful San Diego skyline, rejuvenating spa treatments, a private water taxi across the bay for guests, and a lush pool and outdoor restaurant that you may find difficult to leave to explore Coronado. 

But explore you must, for no matter where you stay, your own Coronado story is waiting to be written.

 "Coronado: The Queen of Fairyland"

And every day her loveliness,

Shines pure, without a flaw;

New charms entrance our every glance,

And fill our souls with awe!

- L. Frank Baum

WHEN TO GO:

The locals are spoiled in San Diego, and even during what they call "June Gloom", the weather is pleasant (if not fully sunny till noon). That said, the best months for weather are June through September. You'll find better deals and smaller crowds outside those months.

THINGS TO DO:

You'll find plenty to keep the whole family busy on Coronado, but here are number of things to consider in your itinerary:

- Gooey fun: After dinner S'mores on the beach at Hotel Del Coronado.

- Haute Culture: and evening at the impressive Lamb's Players Theatre

- Discovery: Kayak tour with a state park naturalist at Loew's Coronado Bay Resort.

- Gluttony: The indescribable decadence of the Hotel Del Coronado Crown Room Sunday brunch.

- Toodling: Pedal the family around the island on a 4-person surrey bike, available at your hotel or shops around town.

- Learning: Get the full and fascinating story on the island at the Coronado Museum of History & Art http://coronadohistory.org/.

ACCOMMODATION:

Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

Glorietta Bay Inn

Hotel del Coronado

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Published in Luxury

If you don’t have children of your own or yours have left the nest, it’s still possible to experience the joys of travel through the eyes of a child. 

Plan a trip to any of these five places with a niece, nephew, grandchild or young cousin and you’ll forever be a rock star relative:

Published in Family Travel Blog

 El Tovar on edge of Grand Canyon FamilyTravel.com

This winter, get cozy with the kids in a great American lodge. Sit by the fire, share stories and enjoy a winter family vacation. Here are five to consider:  

Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Tabernash, CO.

Stay in a cabin or the lodge and get cozy near one of 45 flickering fireplaces. Enjoy local specialties in the lodge dining room where a three-story, three-hearth fireplace, comprised of hand-stacked stones, warms winter visitors. Grab the binoculars to catch a glimpse of wildlife roaming on this 6,000 acre expanse of Colorado beauty or set out on the Nordic trails for an up-close view of winter scenes. From now through May, stay two nights and get the third night free. Pet friendly. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com

Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA

For junior boarders and skiers, this lodge in the Poconos offers crowd-free, gentle slopes on which to learn. Kids as young as three can enroll in ski school. Dog mushing, tobogganing, sledding, ice-skating and cross-country skiing add to the active pursuits available on this sprawling 5,000-acre estate.  Later, stretch out in the indoor pool or bubbling hot tub and get ready for game night. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com

Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, OR.

Located in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, this magnificent lodge was built at the height of the Great Depression by unemployed craftspeople hired by the Federal Works Progress Administration.  Located 60 miles east of Portland, the well-crafted lodge has long served as the centerpiece of this mountain playground. Take a guided, moonlit snowshoe tour, experience Snowcat skiing or simply relax in the historic lodge and enjoy the extraordinary views. Ask about weekday, ski-free deals. Contact: (800).547-1406; www.timberlinelodge.com/ 

El Tovar – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ.

Open since 1905 and registered as a national Historic Landmark, this charming, 78-room lodge is just steps from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Take in a nature talk, go for a mule ride or hike the famed trails that criss-cross down and through the park.  Marvel at the extraordinary beauty of snow falling onto the multi-colored rock walls and into the canyon below. Contact: 928-638-2631; www.GrandCanyonLodges.com

The Whiteface Lodge. Lake Placid, NY.

Located in the heart of the Adirondacks, this woodland lodge is spacious, with modern amenities.  At the same time, it serves up rustic, with stone chimneys, antler chandeliers and handcrafted Adirondack furnishings. Nightly family bonfires, a skating rink, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowshoeing and indoor swimming programs, provide plenty to keep an active family engaged. A complimentary kids club makes it easy for the adults to take advantage of the full service spa on site. Contact: 800-903-4045; www.thewhitefacelodge.com

Published in Lodges & Inns

 ft chaa creek butterfly

Family-friendly lodges provide an activity-rich haven for the adventuresome clan.

Here are five places you’ll want to visit time and again:

The Lodge at Chaa Creek. Near San Ignacio, Belize. Prince Harry chose this remarkable, riverside eco-lodge as headquarters during his recent visit to the jungles of this Central American country. Tucked within a 365-acre private rainforest paradise in the picturesque foothills of the Maya Mountains, Chaa Creek provides the ideal home base for your family’s exploration of the Cayo District, a region where cave tubing, archeological sites, horseback riding and zip lining will lure you from the comfort of your palm-thatched cottage or tree-top suite. While at the Lodge, don’t miss early morning bird watching tours, the hill-top spa, the Blue Morpho Butterfly Farm and the medicine trail where you’ll learn about the native plants that provide globally significant remedies. Contact: (877) 709-8708; www.ChaaCreek.com.  

Skytop Lodge. Skytop, PA. A top spot for family reunions, this Poconos Mountain resort has been welcoming guests to their 5,500 acre playground since the 1920s. In addition to golf, canoeing, kayaking, biking, naturalist led hikes, rafting and paintball, families can explore the newly opened Tree Top Adventure course. Expect high-energy fun that includes zip lines, suspended bridges, nets, swings and an aerial surf board. Ask about the Camp in the Clouds for kids. Contact: 800 -345 -7759; www.Skytop.com

The Lodge at Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Tabernash, CO. No need to leave Fido behind when you travel to this Rocky Mountain getaway 65 miles from Denver. Here, the lodge folks encourage kids to use their “outside voices” because that’s where they will want to spend their time. Whether the junior set is exploring on foot, horseback or mountain bike, there is plenty of country to cover on this 5,000 acre ranch where rustic charm meets luxurious comfort. Grown ups may opt for spa or fly rod time while kids get to know other youngsters in the Cowpoke Camp. The junior set will be engaged with active games, mountaineering and orienteering as well as learning about Native American culture. Contact: 970-726-5632; www.devilsthumbranch.com 

The Whiteface Lodge.  Lake Placid, NY. Relax in luxury amidst the Adirondack wilderness. Here, the Lodge concierge can help you and your clan mix hiking, fly fishing, canoeing, and rock climbing into your family holiday. Splash in the pools, bowl, play platform tennis or enjoy the spa. During the summer months, kids ages three to 14 can tap into a full range of activities provided by the complimentary KAMP KANU. After sunset, a fine dining experience awaits the parents while the youth crew enjoys a pizza dinner as well as themed activities that range from Pirates at Play to Space Night. End the evening roasting marshmallows with your family around the campfire. Contact: (518) 523-0500; www.thewhitefacelodge.com/

The Lodge at Tiburon. Tiburon, CA. Visit this quaint Northern California sailing town for a taste of seaside history. Enjoy magnificent waterfront shopping, galleries, dining and bike paths where your family can cycle in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge. A perfect jumping off place for side trips to San Francisco, Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Sausalito, and Napa Valley, the California Craftsman-style Lodge offers 103-rooms, complimentary wi-fi, DVD rentals, and fitness center. Bike rentals are also free and your pets are welcome. Contact: 800-762-7770www.lodgeattiburon.com.

Published in Lodges & Inns

Blurr at Marriott Starpass

When it comes to family travel, you might be wondering where to stay that will keep your teens and toddlers smiling?

From manicures to “mocktails”, the options for teens have multiplied significantly in the last decade. Many resorts now offer uber-hip, teen-only spaces, providing a contemporary hang out for dancing, games and music.

Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas led the way with their swanky 14,000 square-foot club Crush.

San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado’s features the popular, teen-only Vibz.

Headed to Tucson?

Your teens will be all smiles when you check into the JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort . They’ll be quick to check out the new Blur lounge where Play Station and “PopTails” are underway.

Contact: ww.atlantis.com/kids/kidactivities/crush.aspx;

Published in Family Travel Blog

ft reef divers 11-10-2010 6-56-32 am

Explore our underwater world during a family dive vacation. Here are great places to consider: 

1.       Small Hope Bay Lodge, Andros Island, Bahamas.

Check into one of this family-run resort’s 21 cottages and prepare to explore, relax and enjoy a special holiday. Young children can begin by participating in the young naturalist program before moving on to shoreline snorkeling lessons, a snorkel reef trip and then on to SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) Diving. The latter enables kids 7-9 to experience the underwater world wearing a small tank and other dive gear. At age ten, the Discover Scuba program is available for those interested in pursuing the next level. The resort’s on site dive staff will provide scuba lessons for one or more. The all inclusive resort offers complimentary babysitting from six until nine pm. Contact: 800-223-6961; www. SmallHope.com.

2.       Florida Keys.

Explore the only living coral reef system in the continental United States during a visit to this scenic South Florida region. For kids eight and older: the Summer Marine Science Camp at Pigeon Key, an historic site 100 miles southwest of Miami, offers programs that include information about reef fish, coral reef systems, underwater photography and the gathering of specimens. Kids can get scuba certification during a camp session or brush up if already certified. Also included: underwater obstacle courses, volleyball, and snorkeling. Also in the region: the Wreck Trek Passport Program," spotlighting the Florida Keys Shipwreck Trail, where certified divers can explore a string of sunken vessels and artificial reefs with local dive instructors. Contact: 305-289-0025; www.PigeonKey.com; www.Fla-Keys.com/diving. 

3.      Brac Reef, Cayman Brac.

From this small, family-friendly island, families can enjoy a dive vacation that includes exploring the waters around Cayman Brac as well as the Russian Frigate and the Bloody Bay Wall near Little Cayman Island. The on-site dive shop provides personalized attention to the soon-to-be certified as well as the seasoned diver. The all inclusive, beach front resort also offers free bike rentals to explore the island, spa services and volley ball. Ask about special packages for families. Contact: 1-800-594-0843; www.BracReef.com. 

4.       Grand Wailea, Maui.

For families who choose to blend a luxury resort holiday with a scuba experience, this hotel fits the bill. Give the sport a try by joining instructors twice daily in the comfort of Hawaii’s only specially designed scuba pool. Interested in learning more? Certification classes are offered at every level. Once the instruction is complete, escorted ocean dives are available. Meanwhile, families can enjoy the super-cool pool on the property, an expansive beach ,as well as a spa and numerous family-focused resort programs. Contact: 808-875-1234; www.GrandWailea.com.

ft divepapuanewguinea loh  5-31-2010 8-35-17 5-31-2010 8-35-16 pm 5.       Harbour Village, Bonaire.

Children ages five to 12 can join the Kid’s Great Adventure program at this Caribbean resort. They will learn about the Bonaire Marine Park, snorkel, ID fish, and get comfortable with the SASY (Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth) program, a wonderful precursor to SCUBA. Children eight and over can take part in the PADI Bubblemaker program, which enables young enthusiasts to breathe with a regulator in shallow ocean water. At ten, kids can earn their Junior Scuba Certification. From now through December 16, 2011 the second diver in your party dives free when you book the Dive Into Luxury Package. Children under 16 stay free in the room with their parents. Contact: 1-800-424-0004; www.harbourvillage.com.

 Resource: www.PADI.com.

Published in Adventure

Intergenerational travel is on the rise.

Busy family schedules and geographic distance sometimes prevent regular gatherings. Thus, “grand travel”, as one aspect of this growing trend is known, provides an opportunity for two generations to get to know each, and the world, a little better.

By spending time away, with parents out of the picture, grandchildren and their grandparents can forge their own special bond. Grand travel need not include a fancy holiday in a luxury resort or a visit to a trendy theme park. There are other options.

rafting with grandkids

Here are a hand full:  

Over the river and through the woods.

Invite the grandkids to your place and then paint the town. They’ll love getting comfortable in your home and seeing your local sites. Check in with your Chamber of Commerce orgrandparents Convention and Visitors Bureau for an update on great options for kids. Consult parents from your neighborhood or church for family-tested ideas. See your home town through the fresh eyes of youth. 

Share your passions.

Do you love to ski, play golf, camp or scuba dive? A trip with the grandkids to indulge in your favorite activity will give them the chance to know a special part of you.

Share a bit of your past.

Are you a World War II veteran? Did you grow up inspired by jazz or classical music? Did the ethnic neighborhood of your youth greatly influence the person you are today?

Visit a war memorial, take in a concert or music festival or visit the old stomping grounds. Take the opportunity to share your experiences and knowledge with the kids. It will mean more to hear a bit of history from someone who has been there. And, remember, you are part of their history.

Learn a new skill together.  

You’re never too old to learn a new trick! And the grandchildren will be impressed with your sense of adventure and curiosity. Learn to kayak, snorkel or spot rare birds in nature. Go
snow shoeing, ice fishing or cross country touring. Find something that’s new to all of you and share the joy of learning together.

Consider a cruise or all-inclusive resort.

With activities to appeal to every generation, food choices to suit the pickiest eater and itineraries to please the most well-traveled, such an option eliminates the daily decision making that can cause conflict.

Consult an expert.

For many, developing the plan is the hard part. There are travel consultants who specialize in helping families create intergenerational travel memories. They’ll serve up options ranging from cruises in the Galapagos Islands to fly fishing on wild and scenic rivers to train trips through the American West.

However you choose to share time with your grandchildren, you’ll create treasured memories to deposit in your family’s history bank.

Have you perused our Grandparent Travel Collection?   It's a great resouce for finding just the right trip for you and your clan!

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Published in Gather
A

re you ready for a getaway?

Plan your own classic American holiday. Here are fun-filled ideas to help you create an iconic family vacation:

Take a Road Trip.

A concept often parodied on television and in the movies, the family road trip continues to be a source of fun and happy memories for clans across the country. Play games, sing songs, tell stories along the way. Access the American Automobile Association’s plentiful and user-friendly information on road conditions, weather, deals, discounts, and gas prices. They can also help with roadside assistance, travel planning and maps.

Contact: 1 (800) 332-6119; www.AAA.com.

Make your way to the Mountains.

Fill your lungs with pine scented air. Raft the rivers, wonder at the wild life or travel by horseback into the backcountry. A visit to a mountain destination like Jackson, WY will offer you and your family the best of the great outdoors paired with a glimpse into our western heritage. Take in the rodeo, a cowboy cookout, visit the hot springs and the Grand Teton National Park.

Contact: 1 (888) 838-6606; www.jacksonholewy.com.

Head to the Beach.

You may have a family favorite or build sand castles on the beach closest to home. However, if you are looking for a new sandy spot, consider the annual list created by coastal expert Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, Director of Florida International University’s Laboratory for Coastal Research. For the last 20 years, “Dr. Beach” has used 50 criteria, including water, sand quality, safety and environmental management, to rank seaside playgrounds. Beaches in New York, Florida, California, Hawaii and North Carolina top the lists. Contact: www.DrBeach.org.

Relax at the lake.

With more than 1,000 miles of shoreline, Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is a family favorite. In addition to boating, swimming, fishing and a wide range of water sports, generations of lake lovers enjoy hiking in the nearby state park, biking, mini-golf and water parks as well as access to plenty of restaurants, music and other kid-friendly attractions.

In Montana, Whitefish Lake is a family favorite. With Glacier National Park in the neighborhood, you can't go wrong. 

Contact: 1 (800) 386-5253; www.funlake.com; www.ExploreWhitefish.com

Visit a National Park.

Celebrate our freedom and the beauty of our land within one of our 392 national parks. With so many historical and natural wonders to discover, consider heading to the National Park Service’s web pages, specifically designed to help regular and first time visitors plan a meaningful trip. There you research park activities as well as camping, back country, lodging and educational options. Across America each day there are special events, institute and field schools as well as volunteer opportunities. Check for fee free days and Junior Ranger programs for the kids.

Contact: www.nps.gov/pub_aff/plan_your_visit/index.htm

Get Sporting at the Wintergreen Resort. Wintergreen, VA.

Parents can join their kids for group golf lessons and then head to the course to refine their skills. This is a family-friendly resort on the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers up a range of easily accessible sporting options. With 45 holes of championship golf as a cornerstone, families can enjoy a holiday that includes a children’s program at The Treehouse, hiking, fly-fishing and an award-winning tennis program.

Contact: 800-926-3723; www.wintergreenresort.com

Published in Gather

This page is brought to you by Pride of Maui offering fun-filled, action-packed snorkeling/sailing trips to Maui's Molokini.

Snorkeling is a great way to explore the beauty of our underwater world.

Here are six places the family can learn about coral reefs, colorful fish and more:

Published in Adventure
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