Archive for April, 2011

Stay and Watch the Royal Wedding in Style

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

For Royal Wedding fever, check out a viewing party in your area! (photo courtesy of amazon.com)

If your invitation to the Royal Wedding got lost in the mail or you simply would rather celebrate in style without crossing the pond, hotels and restaurants across the country are hosting their own viewing parties.

Here are just a few of the hotels hosting “watching parties” this Friday:

The New York Palace Hotel

This 4 1/2 star New York City hotel  is hosting quite the early morning soiree! $150 buys a traditional, English breakfast complete with scones and bangers; a Champagne toast; and party favors, like scented candles embossed with a crown, and New York Palace slippers. The wedding will be shown in the ornate, wood-paneled Drawing Room of the Villard Mansion.  

The National Hotel

Recommended by 74 percent of visitors, this Miami Beach hotel will host a royal affair in honor of the much-anticipated marriage of England’s Prince William to fiancée Kate Middleton. Held at The Restaurant and Blues Bar from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m., the broadcast viewing party will offer guests the opportunity to watch the festivities on a large projector screen while enjoying a traditional “Full English Breakfast”.

Walt Disney World Dolphin

Even Disney doesn’t want you to miss this splendid event. At its four star Dolphin Hotel, there will be a free viewing party in the early morning hours. Guests can enjoy a complimentary English breakfast and marvel at edible recreations of the royal engagement ring and a tiara, both made entirely out of sugar by the hotel’s executive pastry chef, Laurent Branlard.

Palace Hotel in San Francisco

Registration and breakfast bites begin at 8:30 am at this four star hotel,  followed by a full seated breakfast and cocktails in the Ralston Ballroom. There is an open bar and pre-taped wedding highlights will be shown on a large screen beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tickets are being sold for $45 per person.

 
 

 

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Royal Weddings and Other Great Reasons to Visit London!

Monday, April 25th, 2011

You might of heard but there is a Royal Wedding on Friday in Great Britain?! Who are we kidding, even my four year-old is aware of the impending nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton. And this week, London is literally rolling out the red carpet for more than 1.1 million visitors from home and around the globe.

So in case you needed even more of a reason to take a trip to jolly old England, here are some of the top reasons to visit London:  

History

London is steeped in history and you can’t turn a corner without finding something tied to its past. 

Want to walk in the steps of the Royals? Tour palaces, castles and churches! Sign up for a summer garden tour of Buckingham Palace. You can visit Parliament and watch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace FREE of charge. 

Westminster Abbey is actually closed this week for all the wedding revelry so visiting another time will allow you into the hallowed halls where history has been made for hundreds of years.

The Tower of London is one of my most favorite sights in London to not only learn some important history lessons but to also be thoroughly entertained. You can drool over (I mean visit) the Crown Jewels, see hundreds of years of armor and hear the tales of tower from the official Yeoman Warders.

Anyone can find a reason to love London from its free-spirited nightlife, to its family-friendly attractions, and its centuries of history that have molded the modern times. So hop on one of the famous double-decker buses that chauffer you about town and happily enlighten you with the wonders of this world-class city.

Festivals and Free Stuff

London in the Spring and Summer provides visitors the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the city through the arts in its many parks and gardens. Every week there is some sort of music, theatre or small celebration taking place around the city. Look out for music and dance during the Thames Festival, and boisterous juggling and dance acts on the National Theatre’s lawns.

Additionally, London has some of the best museums in the world. In fact, 17 of its major museums and galleries offer free admission including the British Museum, National Gallery, the V&A Museum of Childhood, and even the museum of architect Sir John Soane.

London Pubs

Pass up a pub and you’ll be passing up an experience. With nearly 4,000 public houses (“pubs”) in the city, these London locales are great places to grab a drink and an affordable meal, hear a story or two, relax from the sight-seeing and really take in some of the local flare.

Shopping

From Oxford Street, Portobello Road, Covet Garden, and Regent Street to the world famous Harrods store, London is a shopper’s paradise! With a variety of historic markets, glass-covered arcades and shopping streets like King’s Road and Carnaby Street, London specializes in products found only in England. I personally couldn’t end a shopping day without a spot of tea at Fortnum & Mason.

The way I see it – you should start planning your trip before the next visitor rush at the 2012 London Olympics!

 
 

 

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Hop Along for a Last-Minute Easter Getaway!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


If you are like many Americans, you have a long weekend ahead of you with either Friday or Monday, or both, off of work. You could get some spring-cleaning done around the house … or you could take advantage of some great pre-summer, last-minute travel deals and take an Easter vacation! 


Hotels.com offers travelers the opportunity to hop on Easter hotel deals perfect for holiday getaways this season with its Easter Sale. Here are a few suggestions that stick out to me for a hare-raising good time.

St. Johns, Antigua

Head to the Caribbean for a last minute getaway! You can save 22% at the Dickenson Bay Cottages in St. John’s, which are a condo-style accommodation providing more comforts of home for less cost to you.  

Santa Barbara, CA

For travelers looking for a west coast escape, the Best Western Carpenteria Inn offers a three-star experience for a bargain, with a savings of 15%. Room rates start at $70 per night. Here are a few of my tips for visiting Santa Barbara.

St. Petersburg, FL

I checked with Airfarewatchdog and there are some great airfares from all over the U.S. to St. Petersburg, which is enough reason for me to go enjoy the white-sand Gulf Beaches of St. Pete. Save 10% on your stay at the family-friendly Tradewinds Island Grand.

Las Vegas, NV

Stay at Harrah’s Hotel and Casino for just $80/night next weekend and earn a FREE 2-for-1 Vegas Strip, Hoover Dam or Grand Canyon helicopter tours voucher.

Myrtle Beach, SC

Hotels.com customers can save this Easter at the Anderson Ocean Club and Spa by Oceana Resorts. Comfortable, clean and convenient this is one resort that will keep you coming back for more. But don’t take my word for it, read the guest reviews.

Where are you heading for Easter this weekend? Share your vacation plans below!

 
 

 

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5 Tips for Traveling Green

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Nicole and friend taking a pedi-cab to a Colorado Rockies game

How eco-conscious are you when you are on vacation? Is it like your diet – a distant memory until you return home? Or are you aware of your environmental impact even when you are away? In the United States alone, more than 43 million people consider themselves eco-tourists.

Here are a few of my tips for things that you can do to conserve and protect our earth while you are traveling:

1. Pack your own reusable water bottles. Simple enough! Not only is this cost-effective for you but it significantly cuts down on plastic waste. More than 31 million single-serve plastic bottles end up in landfills or as litter every day. You can light a 60-watt light bulb for six hours a day from recycling a single plastic bottle.

2. Bring your own toiletries, instead of using the hotels’ bath products. You can purchase travel size refillable bottles for almost anything from shampoo to contact solution. Simply fill them before your trip and never be without your favorite incidentals. This is a significant change you can make as solid waste disposal and landfills become an even bigger environmental issue. Operation Clean the World collects leftover and discarded soaps and toiletries from hotels, reprocesses them and distributes them to homeless shelters and across the world to stop the spread of infectious diseases.

3. Reuse hotel towels. Most hotels now post signs in the bathrooms requesting that you re-hang your towel for an extra use before having it laundered. On average, the washing of linens consumes 35% of a hotel’s energy consumption for the laundry process and 65% for the drying process. According to Zerowaste.org, the average amount of water used (in a luxury hotel) is 475 gallons per room/per day. Wow!  While many hotels are putting in systems to reduce water waste and maximize efficiencies, you can help by simply being aware of your own water consumption.

4. Consider alternative transportation. Choosing a hotel that is centrally located to the sites/interests that you are visiting may enable you to eliminate the need for a rental car. Minimize your carbon footprint and get to know an area by walking to nearby sites. Take advantage of complimentary hotel shuttles or hire a pedi-cab. Many hotels can help you with a bicycle rental as well. Some cities, such as Denver and San Antonio, actually have a bike sharing program called B-Cycle that allows you to take a bike located at a number of bike racks around the city for a nominal charge and simply leave it at another rack when you are done. 

5. Choose Sustainable Hotels and restaurants. Many hotels and resorts realize the negative impact that their business was having on the environment and have taken significant steps to alleviate that strain. Efforts include but are not limited to reducing waste and eliminating toxic chemicals used in cleaning, installing energy efficient lighting, dimmers and timers to reduce energy consumption, installing Energy Star appliances, installing water diverters on existing toilets or low-flow toilets, installing high performance, low-flow showerheads, landscaping with native plants, serving water only when requested, providing recycling areas for guests and staff.  Here are a few of the notable eco-friendly hotels.

How are you reducing your carbon footprint when traveling? Please share any thoughts or questions you may have below!

 
 

 

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S-P-R-I-N-G Travel Recommendations

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Visit the beautiful Japanese Garden in Portland, OR. (Photo courtesy of grandcanyon.free.fr).

After sharing ideas with you on things to do in Santa Barbara, it got me thinking about other destinations that are just right for an unforgettable spring vacation.

What makes the next two months ideal for travel is the combination of warm but not blazing hot temperatures, typically lower cost for travel on airfare and hotels, and fewer crowds. So where can you go to reap these wonderful benefits? Let me spell it out for you.

S is for San Juan: Puerto Rico’s capital city features numerous hotels, museums, historical buildings, restaurants, beaches and shopping centers. From Old San Juan in the historic center with colonial Spanish architecture including the large fortifications of Castillo de San Cristóbal to the beaches at Ocean Park and Isla Verde, you can be as busy or as tranquil as you like in this Caribbean escape.

And unlike the rest of the Caribbean, you don’t need a US passport to visit.  

P is for Portland: Surrounded by gorgeous mountains, rivers and vineyards, Portland is ‘perfection’ for a spring getaway. Noted for its hiking and biking trails, there is much to explore by foot in this Pacific Northwest destination. With so many options for sounds, sights and tastes, here is a travel guide for visiting Portand. Be sure to visit the Japanese Garden in Washington Park, enjoy the nightlife of the Pearl District, and other must-do’s include nearby Mt. Hood and the breathtaking Willamette Valley.

R is for Rome: Italy’s capital city will be my vacation destination this spring and I’m not alone. Spring vacations in Rome are quite popular. The frenzied pace at which Rome operates is almost startling for a city that is more than 2,760 years old. Yet you can take all the time you need to marvel at some of the world’s greatest architectural and cultural icons such as the Roman Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Sistine Chapel, and delights such as pesto, gelato and a perfect cappuccino. After all, when in Rome…

Islamorada is a unique place to visit in the Florida Keys. (Photo courtesy of bserata.com)

I is for Islamorada: Made up of six islands in the Florida Keys, Islamorada is known for its world-class fishing, underwater sanctuaries, and some interesting attractions such as the Theater of the Sea, the second oldest marine mammal facility in the world. If a romantic getaway is what you are after then try the newly rebuilt Cheeca Lodge & Spa; for an affordable family spot stay at Pelican Cove Resort.

N is for Nashville: Known as Music City, Nashville is a southern city that is as charming as it is sophisticated. From the Grand Old Opry to Ryman Auditorium, and home to some 5,000 working musicians, music can be heard just about anywhere in this music Mecca. Consider a stay at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Spa or the Radisson Hotel Opryland. But don’t take my word for it; each has more than 200 guest reviews on hotels.com. With so many things to do in Nashville this April through the summer, Nashville may just be the site for your next vacation. 

G is for Grand Canyon: Spring is just right for a visit to our country’s greatest natural attraction, The Grand Canyon. Beat the summer heat and the crowds and hit the big GC in April. The junior ranger program is great for kids! Rent some bikes, raft the Colorado River, and take in the most beautiful sunrise and sunset you have ever seen. Why not stay a night or two in the campgrounds around the National Park and then cozy up in one of the quaint hotels in Williams (AZ)?

Do you have any spring vacations planned for any of the destinations I mentioned? I want to hear about it, share your comments below!

 
 

 

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