Travel Tips

The Catskill Mountains in the morningTaking Care of the Planet
Our Esoteric Quests take us to many wonderful places around the world. We here at the Open Center are committed to caring for the planet. As always, our brochure is printed on recycled paper and this year we will be neutralizing the effect our staff air travel has on climate change. We invite you to join us in this commitment by visiting www.sustainabletravelinternational.org so you can find out how many greenhouse gases are generated by your journey and then purchase Green Tags which make your travel 100% climate neutral.

Travel Agents & Online Bookings
For assistance in booking flights from the US, we can recommend a number of professional travel agents:
Picasso Travel (NYC): +1-212-244-5454 or www.picassotravel.com
Power Travel (Irene) +1- 516-822-9222

For online bookings of discounted air tickets, useful websites include www.kayak.com, www.expedia.com, www.orbitz.com, and www.cheaptickets.com

Telephone Information
The country code for the United States is 1. The area code for the Phoenicia/Woodstock area is 845.

The most affordable means of making either domestic or international calls while at Menla is through the use of Skype (www.skype.com), which is either free when calling computer to computer, or available for a few US cents-per-minute charge when dialing from computer to land line, or the reverse (SkypeIn or SkypeOut).

Guest rooms in the Delos Inn, Hill House, and Mountain House have telephones with private voicemail and internet connection. If you wish to use the phone in your room, you must ask for it to be turned on at Menla's reception desk during check-in. A credit card will be requested to cover phone charges. The cost for local calls is $.50. The rate for long-distance calls is $1.90 for the first minute and $.16 each additional minute.

For anyone staying in dorm style houses or Orchard, or choosing not to have their phone turned on, there is a pay phone in the conference center and a phone in the Business Center, available for use with a phone card. Be sure to bring a phone card.

Please note that cell phones do not work at Menla. There may be intermittent reception available during our post-conference travels, mostly in larger towns. For those of us traveling in from outside the US, most non-US mobile phones will not work within the States; if you wish to rent a US mobile phone nonetheless, you may find the following websites useful: www.phonerentalusa.com or http://att.com/wireless. Should your travel to Menla take you through New York City, there are many dealerships at which you may rent a cell phone. One in particular is AT&T Cellular Rentals, located at 350 Park Avenue, New York, NY, 212-826-2020.

Computer/Internet
Delos, Hill House, and Mountain House have internet connections in each room. Delos and Hill have Broadband T1, and Mountain is dial-up. There is a fee to use internet connections in guest rooms; there is no cost for Wifi (which is sometimes available to guest rooms in Delos and Hill House). In either case, guests must provide their own computer/laptop and cords and able to configure it to work on a Wifi or DHCP network.

There is a public computer that is available at a per- minute rate. Check with Reception to access it.

Free Wifi is available on the main floor of Delos, and in the Conference Center.

Identification & Visas
Travelers entering the United States from abroad will need a valid passport (with at least six months remaining before its expiration); most will also need to secure a visa prior to their arrival. There are a number of countries eligible for visa waivers under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program); visit either the US State Department Travel website at www.travel.state.gov, or your local US embassy or consulate to determine specific requirements.

Immunizations & Health
No vaccinations are required to visit the United States.

Travel Insurance
A standard travel insurance policy is strongly recommended in the event of unexpectedly having to cancel or change your travel plans either before or during our conference, losing your luggage, needing medical assistance, or if the program is affected by circumstances beyond our control. You can purchase this online or from your own travel agent. Travel insurance options are available at www.insuremytrip.com and www.travelguard.com.

Electricity
The United States operates on 110/120 volts, 60 Hz, with two flat-prong plugs (and sometimes a third, round, grounding prong). Any non-American appliance will need a transformer (also called a power or voltage converter), as well as a plug adapter.

Laptops and digital cameras (appliances with their own power adapters) can be plugged into either 110-120-volt or 220-240-volt sockets/points and will adapt to the voltage automatically.

Money
You will want to be sure to have cash on hand before your arrival at Menla - the closest 24-hour ATMs can be found in Phoenicia and in Woodstock. For international travelers, ATMs will provide the easiest access to cash, and tend to offer the best exchange rates. Please remember to advise your bank that you will be traveling and making purchases away from home. Many banks will err on the side of caution and assume your ATM card has been stolen and might suspend your card temporarily.

Phoenica and Woodstock banking hours can vary, but generally are Monday to Friday from 8:30am to5pm, and Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Phoenica and Woodstock post offices are open Monday to Friday from 8am to5pm, and on Saturday from 8am to noon.

Time
New York is on Eastern Standard Time, which is five hours ahead of GMT.

Food and Drink
We will be served a wide variety of delicious, protein-balanced, vegetarian and international meals from Menla's gourmet chef, with many of the vegetables and herbs coming from Menla's own organic gardens. A chicken or fish option will be available for a supplementary charge at dinner each night.

Climate
August in the Catskills can bring warm to hot afternoons and chilly evenings. Summer thunderstorms can be possible. Current area weather: www.weather.com

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