Archive for January, 2013

Itinerary of the Month: Park City, Utah

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

What I Would Do with 36 Hours in: Park City, UT

Earlier this week, I gave you lots of reasons to plan a trip to Park City. Today, I want to give you more ideas for what to do when you get there. Creating this itinerary was difficult and left me pondering the inevitable question: To ski or not to ski?

Our itinerary begins on the afternoon of Day One.

DAY ONE

AFTERNOON:

1. Take advantage of the Park City Quick START Free Skiing offer that will have you on the slopes just as fast as you can make it from SLC to the summit! To find out what is required to take advantage of this great deal, check out www.visitparkcity.com/quickstart/.

OR

2. (My personal choice) Stroll the historic Main Street and take in the Park City atmosphere; an amalgamation of high-end, super-posh shopping and shoppers, gastronomic masterpieces (restaurants with really good food), über snow sport enthusiasm and a dash of local ambivalence. It’s the perfect way to get acclimated and to give yourself time to adjust to the altitude.

EVENING:

At the bottom of Quittin’ Time ski run, next to the Town Lift, you’ll find the High Way West Distillery and Saloon. Around since the 1870’s, not only was it Utah’s first saloon, but it also claims to be the only ski-in gastro-distillery in the world. Sample some of its small-batch, award-winning whiskeys and vodkas.

Dinner: You’re in luck, restaurateurs! Park City seems to be the culinary catnip for chefs, and I can’t begin to pick just one so I’ll give you three!

  • The Farm at Canyon Ranch (Ranked 2012 Best New Restaurant in Utah by Salt Lake Magazine)
  • Shabu
  • Bangkok Thai on Main (amazing wine list!)

Nightlife
The mining days of Park City’s past are long gone as are the brothels and casinos, but rebel rousers won’t have a hard time finding a bar stool or a dance floor to keep the night going. A visit to PC wouldn’t be the same without a stop at the No Name Saloon, where the motto is “Helping People Forget Their Names Since 1903.”

For a younger singles crowd, follow the cologne trail to Downstairs , partly owned by Danny Masterson (the curly-haired actor from “That ’70s Show”) for a palpitating good time complete with bottle service and waitresses who dance on tables.

Watch your alcohol intake because with the mountain altitude, one drink feels like three.














DAY TWO:

MORNING

8AM – COFFEE

Good Morning! Take in the fresh mountain air and grab breakfast like the locals at Windy Ridge Café & Bakery.

9AM – One of the best things about Park City is that the entire town is practically ski in/ski out. When picking a ski destination this should definitely be a factor for consideration. A triple lift on Main Street whisks riders to the Park City Mountain Resort. If you’re staying in town, there’s no need for parking or shuttles.

1PM – Time for lunch. You can eat at the Summit if you still want to ski or ski into town and eat at Uptown Fare. This restaurant got famous last week during Sundance for refusing to serve visitors, “locals only.”

AFTERNOON

You can keep skiing for the afternoon or get steamed!

1. Just a few miles outside Park City, you’ll find the Homestead Resort, where you can soak in a 55-foot-tall limestone rock crater that nature has filled with Caribbean-blue, 90- to 96-degree mineral water. Even in snow season, it offers swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Reservations are required and prices run @ $15/hour.

OR

2. After an exhausting day of skiing, there’s nothing like soaking half-naked with a bunch of tipsy strangers! Did I say that? Well, see for yourself at SkyBlue, the rooftop bar at the Sky Lodge. Non-guests are invited, too. Black terry robes are provided.

OR

Head over to the Empire Canyon Lodge for a horse-drawn sleigh ride or an adventurous trek on snowshoes.

EVENING

For dinner you can stay at Sky Lodge and check out one of its two newly opened restaurants. J&G Grill is a fantastic choice for a romantic evening to remember.

OTHER THINGS TO DO IN PARK CITY:

Even if snow is not your thing, you still should keep Park City on your list of must-see destinations! Summer brings a whole host of on-going activities from the Silly Sunday Market to free concerts and more. With hiking, mountain biking, camping, and zip-lines – adventure calls from the peaks of Park City.

Experience rafting the local Weber and Provo rivers; with mild to a little wild rafting that is fun for all ages. Trips can last from just a couple of hours to a whole day. Park City rafting trips are perfect river trips for families or groups of friends.

WHERE TO STAY IN PARK CITY

You can’t go wrong with the accommodations in and around Park City’s three mountain resorts. Remember when choosing to take into consideration all your gear, the likes and interests of your companions, and proximity to activities.

Looking at Park City hotel deals for the next few weeks, I checked the handy-dandy hotels.com mobile app, which offers exclusive mobile deals when you book on the app. Check out these hotels and lodges in Park City:

 
 

 

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Hotel Hook-Up: Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Looking for a warm getaway this February? Hotels.com is currently offering a cannot-pass-up 48-hour deal at the beautiful and luxurious Mandarin Oriental, Miami hotel. Starting today, save 20% on all bookings at this five-star hotel between the dates of Feb. 13-18 – a peak time in February because of Florida’s largest annual event – the Miami International Boat Show.

The Miami International Boat Show features yachts, power boats, and sail boats alike, spreading across  three different locations in Miami, making it the best spot to preview the new boating season. Whether you’re a boating enthusiast or a nautical novice, you’ll find fantastic vessels, apparel and accessories to check out throughout the show.

Even if you’re more of a land-dweller, we definitely recommend you take advantage of this opportunity as the hotel on its own offers everything you need to have an extraordinary stay. Gorgeous suites, waterside dining, spa treatment, a coastline infinity pool and a private beach…once you check in, you’ll never want to leave.

If you’re looking for an unforgettable vacation mid-February, don’t miss out on this opportunity! Visit the Mandarin Oriental here on Hotels.com for more details.

 
 

 

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City of the Month: Park City, UT

Monday, January 28th, 2013

Last week, the acclaimed Sundance Film Festival honored the top independent movies and players. Every year, its host, Park City, Utah, takes the best supporting role for the annual celeb-studded event.

Park City is topping all the travel lists (Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Ski Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler) lately surpassing destinations such as Aspen. Why? Accessibility, creativity, and activity!

Park City is a transformed old mining town with three ski resorts surrounding it. The quaintness of Park City’s Main Street is a thin veil for souvenirs and high-end retail. And don’t be deceived by the quaint façade as the price tag for a vacation in and around this city is never bargain-priced. The four block historic strip is perfect for strolling or you can step into Robert Redford’s restaurant, Zoom, which offers some delicious local fare.

Accessibility

Nobody wants to spend the better part of a day traveling into a destination. Park City is more accessible than many of the top ski resort towns – located only 45 minutes from The Salt Lake City airport. The international airport serves many airlines; Delta Air Lines has nonstop flights from more than 100 cities. Shuttles are a better choice than renting a car.


Hotels in Park City are numerous; from the big brand hotels to the local lodges.

Creativity

It has become a hub of culinary creativity with more than 100 restaurants and some truly inspired eateries.

If dining among celebrities in a beautiful mountain setting sounds appealing, you’ll want to check-in to the Waldorf-Astoria. Get a table at Slopes, a new restaurant deemed America’s hottest hotel restaurant in 2012 by Travel & Leisure.

The Waldorf-Astoria’s renowned bar and lounge, Powder Ice Lounge, features a 14-foot sculpted ice bar (it’s literally made of ice) and is one of the most popular photo-ops in the city.

Activity

Park City features three world-class resorts – Deer Valley Resort, Canyons Resort and Park City Mountain Resort – that offer three seasons of fun for everyone. (I say three because spring is a transitional season when the resorts close, the snow melts, and the preparations for the summer season are taking place.)

In the winter, the powder is abundant. Park City is home to the steep mountains where the US Ski Team trains attracting the world’s top snow sport enthusiasts, and a very chic and sophisticated crowd.

The Utah Olympic Park near Park City was the site of the 2002 Bobsled, Luge and Ski Jumping competitions. Today, visitors are treated to a guided tour of the park, athlete training sessions, 70 mile-per-hour bobsled rides, zipline rides, Quicksilver alpine slide rides, Olympic museum, an interactive museum, freestyle aerial and ski jumping shows on Saturdays at noon and a variety of camps for all ages.

In the summer and fall, the resorts convert their lifts and runs into over 400 miles of trails for biking and hiking and endless activities. Deer Valley’s Mountain Biking School offers lessons for those looking to improve their skills or just a guide for some of the areas best trails.

 
 

 

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Hotel Hook-Up: Ambassador Hotel NOLA

Friday, January 25th, 2013

New Orleans is hotbed of activity at the moment. With Mardi Gras celebrations underway and Super Bowl XLVII only days away, the city is buzzing with visitors and space is limited. At this point, securing affordable lodging in the Big Easy can be all but that.

Fortunately, Hotels.com is currently offering  a great NOLA deal for you that will make you want to start your own parade.

The Ambassador Hotel New Orleans is offering rates at 50% off, from now until Feb. 28, 2013.

Though some blackout dates do apply, including Super Bowl weekend, you can still enjoy pre-and-post-game festivities at the parades that take place across the city throughout the month, and experience New Orleans’ best nightlife of the year, as Fat Tuesday falls this year on Feb. 12, 2013.

Only a very short walk from Bourbon Street, the Ambassador Hotel is located in the very heart of a city known for just that, its heart. Explore shops, listen to music, indulge in the food, and immerse yourself in the culture that makes NOLA such an attractive destination for visitors and vacationers every year!

 
 

 

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Hotel Hookup: Comfort Hour at Affinia Manhattan

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Conveniently located adjacent to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, Affinia Manhattan, a Denihan Hospitality Group property, recently embarked on a $24 million redesign transforming this historic, pre-war property into a stylish and sophisticated retreat to fit the comfort and needs of today’s modern traveler.

One unique aspect of staying at the Affinia Manhattan is the Comfort Hour.

What is the comfort hour? Every evening guests are invited to test ’Comfort Cart’ items which includes: six choice Dream Pillow Menu, Experience Kits, acoustic Ibanez guitar, yoga mats, golf putters, Xbox Kinect, Wii and more. The items on the ‘Comfort Cart’ are rated by guests and top rated amenities will eventually be rolled out across the brand. Guests are also treated to Affinia Manhattan’s signature “blondies”.

Guests to Affinia Manhattan can also take advantage of some of the hotels information and amenities kits that help guests discover and enjoy popular urban spaces. Experience kits include:


  • Walking Tour Kit: An iPod Shuffle or Nano loaded with Affinia Walking Tour and workout playlists; City Walks deck of cards; city guidebook featuring popular walking tours; StreetWise city map; pedometer; and towel.
  • StayFit Kit: Yoga mat; stretching blocks; yoga, Pilates, and boot camp DVDs; workout bands; wrist/ankle weights; and StreetWise city map.
  • BYOB Kit: Neoprene wine carrier with wine key; BYOB guidebook; Little Black Book of Wine; and picnic blanket.
  • Hangover Kit – Advil; eye mask; and a bottle of water.

Guests can also take advantage of the Metro
Concierge in the hotel lobby to plan their days
in the city, book in-room spa treatments, tour
the city on a helicopter ride, or purchase 
hard-to-get theater tickets. In addition, the popular onsite restaurant and bar, Niles New York City,
is open late for sophisticated cuisine and the
occasional celebrity sighting.



Photos by Affinia Manhattan

 
 

 

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Hispanic Travelers Love Orlando, Miami and NYC Best

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Last year, Hotels.com launched a new Spanish language website that includes tailored everyday travel deals and special promotions to help U.S. Hispanic travelers find their perfect place in a way that’s easiest and most convenient for them.

Now, the verdict is in and Hotels.com has announced the top 10 most popular destinations among Hispanic travelers, according to 2012 booking data from the new Spanish language site.

Top Destinations Among U.S. Hispanic Travelers

Rank

Destination

1.

Orlando, Fla.

2.

Miami, Fla.

3.

New York, N.Y.

4.

Las Vegas, Nev.

5.

Puerto Rico

6.

Dominican Republic

7.

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

8.

Los Angeles, Calif.

9.

San Antonio, Texas

10.

Santiago, Chile


Offering an array of family activities for children and adults that make it an appealing destination for multi-generation trips, Orlando saw the most bookings among U.S. Hispanic travelers. Hispanic travelers are also more likely than your average traveler to visit theme parks – a category in which Orlando reigns supreme – according to Mandala Research.

Family-oriented, Hispanic travelers are also highly motivated to vacation for the purpose of visiting friends and relatives; this is a likely reason why Miami took second place on the list. With a 70 percent Hispanic share of the city’s total population that trumps all other U.S. destinations on the list, Miami was the second most booked destination, followed by New York and Las Vegas – both of which have large Hispanic communities that compose more than a quarter of the residents in each city according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Where is your favorite travel destination?

 
 

 

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Romantic Destinations for New Love… and Those Searching for It!

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Is anything better than new love; the kind that makes your toes tingle and makes you willing to try new things? If you really want to impress your new sweetie or happen to be in the market for one –get planning! There’s just one month to go until Valentine’s Day. Where can you go for a little quiet time, romance and a whole lot of fun?

Sure, you can go to the most popular destinations (according to Hotels.com HPI): Las Vegas, New York, Miami and San Francisco and you are sure to have a good time. But if you are looking for a new spot to explore your budding romance, consider these destinations that are also great for the single-set. I threw in a few Valentine Getaways that are ready to be booked!

couple on the beach

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Don’t forget your dancing shoes! San Juan has it all: you can tour the historic city and visit the beaches by day and enjoy a vibrant nightlife after dark. Think, a late dinner typically followed with drinks and salsa dancing at a local nightclub. Bar hopping is an option through historic Old San Juan, and many of the city’s big hotels have casinos, dance clubs, and trendy bars as well.

Turks and Caicos

You don’t have to wait for that special someone to enjoy the tropical Turks and Caicos Islands. Club Med Turkoise resort is adults-only and tends to attract a lot of single travelers. Plus, fast-growing Providenciales has a nice selection of beach bars, sports bars, and a BET Soundstage.

New England

New England is the perfect place for a romantic getaway in any season, from summer at the ocean beaches of Rhode Island to fall foliage tours in New Hampshire to fireside dinners in Maine or skiing in Vermont. Romantic activities range from a horse-drawn sleigh ride, to antique shopping in Connecticut and beach combing in Rhode Island.

Washington D.C.

D.C. is great place to grow new love or to be hot and single! There’s a palpable energy in our nation’s capital that runs from morning to night. Check out funky Adams Morgan, with its expressive art, dining, shopping and ultra-hip nightlife.

VALENTINE’S DAY TRAVEL The Fairmont Washington, DC is offering a Romantic Valentine’s Getaway Package complete with:

  • Overnight accommodations
  • Full American buffet breakfast for two daily
  • Champagne
  • Chocolate Truffles

Rate: Starts at $509.

Wine Country – Napa and Sonoma, CA

“Couple” a visit to San Francisco with a sojourn in northern Wine Country where the wine is flowing and good times are guaranteed. It’s a great place to spend some time getting to know each other. You can’t go wrong with a stay at the Milliken Creek Inn and Spa.

VALENTINE’S DAY TRAVEL Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is offering a Romance in Wine Country Package:

  • One night’s accommodations
  • Rose petal turndown
  • Two 60-minute spa treatments
  • Sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries
  • Tasting passes at Gloria Ferrer Winery

Rate: From $489 per night.

Sante Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe is one of the top destinations in the Southwest. It is a unique fusion of art and culinary masterpieces in a beautiful desert setting. And it’s attracting a lot of young artists and actors (New Mexico is becoming quite a hub for TV/film production). Seriously, Santa Fe is for “Art” lovers.

VALENTINE’S DAY TRAVEL Hotel Santa Fe is offering a western romance package for two:

  • Accommodations
  • Fresh flowers and welcome basket with strawberries and champagne
  • Daily breakfast in Amaya Restaurant
  • Prix-fixe dinner for two in Amaya with complimentary bottle of wine
  • One-hour couples massage

Rate: From $319 per person.

Great Saving Tip: Once you select your destination, sign up to receive Groupon and Living Social deals for that city. Scour them daily for deals on spas, restaurants and activities that will let you have a big time on a little budget!

Where is your favorite place to get away for Valentine’s Day?

 
 

 

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What’s BIG in Travel for 2013?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

2013 may just be the year of the traveler. Industry experts (too many to name) all agree that worldwide, people will be criss-crossing and zig-zagging their way to new places, perhaps more than ever before. With travel being such a BIG deal this year, I thought I’d fill you in on some of the of the biggest trends in travel.

Prices will be BIG

Remember Econ 101? When demand is up, supply goes down therefore prices go up. Hotels only have so many rooms on a given night and airlines can limit flights, which reduces the number of seats in order to drive up cost for those coveted spots for your vacation. With fewer seats and more people willing to pay for them, it will be harder to use your loyalty miles on domestic flights. Don’t wait too long to book – not only will the prices be steep but you may not get a seat.

Mobile is BIG


The big word in travel this year is “Mobile” and why shouldn’t it be? You’ll never get lost, go hungry, get bored, wait in line, or wonder where you are sleeping with the plethora of travel apps available for download.

Last year, the Hotels.com app saw its 10 millionth download. In North America, 2013 will mark the first year that online access is greater from mobile devices than desktops or laptops.

I have some new favorite travel apps that I will be sharing throughout the year designed to enhance all of your travels!

Being Healthy is BIG

Mini-bars stocked with healthy options, spas farming their own natural ingredients, free fitness channels on your TV, yoga mats delivered by room service….hotels are making a big effort to help you feel good and stay fit during your stay. Check out Kimpton hotels nationwide, London’s 45 Park Lane, the Nu Hotel Brooklyn.

Agro and Eco-Tourism are BIG

With an increased level of environmental awareness and the desire to be closer to nature, many are choosing vacations that offer new ways of getting closer to natural areas than ever before. For travelers interested in ecotourism, consider traveling to Borneo to Save the Orangutan. If you are more interested in agrotourism, learn exactly where food comes from at Whole Foods Market. Beginning April 2013, they will offer worldwide tours focused around the production and consumption of food. Many of the tours include hikes and bike rides through a region to meet with locals, see how meals are made and where raw materials bought.

Security is BIG…business that is.
New initiatives are rolling out to help travelers breeze through airport security checkpoints. 39 airports worldwide can now use the U.S.
Customs & Border Protection’s Global Entry, which allows travelers who have submitted to background checks to simply swipe their passports at a kiosk and speed through customs.

With TSA’s PreCheck, you’ll no longer need to remove shoes, laptops, and liquids. The program is aligned with Global Entry, domestic airlines’ frequent-flier clubs, and now the Loews Hotels & Resorts loyalty program.

 
 

 

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How To Pack Like A Ninja

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Quia Querisma is the Hotels.com affiliate manager by day, and freelance writer by night. Her work has been published by the Huffington PostDallas Morning NewsWhere Dallas, SoulTrain.com, and BlackAmericaWeb.com covering the topics of travel, entertainment, and style. Follow her on Twitter @querismatic and visit her blog, MyJetSetStyle.com for more of her insights on fashion and travel.


 
 

 

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Hotel Hook-Up: Scents of the Season with Milliken Creek Inn & Spa

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Milliken Creek Inn & Spa

Happy New Year! Have I got a gift for you! So a few weeks ago, you read about Giving the Gift of Travel and that’s exactly what we want to do today! Travel Smart Blog and the amazingly hospitable Milliken Creek Inn & Spa want to give one lucky Travel Smart Blog reader an amazing gift….keep reading!

Nestled on the banks of the Napa River in the heart of Napa, California’s esteemed wine country, you’ll find the luxurious Milliken Creek Inn & Spa. Originally an 1857 stagecoach inn, Milliken features 12 individually designed, spacious suites with thoughtful touches such as plush king-size beds with the finest linens, oversized hydrotherapy bathtubs, flickering fireplaces and private balconies with charming views.

Like most of the Napa Valley wines that improve with age, Milliken is a cherished retreat that continuously offers enhanced levels of serenity and relaxation to its guests.

Now is the time for you to experience the hotel that redefines luxury, intimacy, charm and the authentic Napa experience.

Now through the end of January 2013, Milliken is offering a “Scents of the Season package” for just $199.  This special accommodation includes:

  • One night’s accommodations in a Milliken room
  • L’Occitane gift bag with sample size products of Citrus Verbena Eau de Cologne, Effervescent Revitalizing Sugar Cube, Pillow Mist, Cade After Shave Balm for Men and Mains Shea Butter Hand Cream
  • Harney & Sons tagalong of Hot Cinnamon Spice and Holiday Blend teas
  • A $50 spa credit to use towards a decadent peppermint massage treatment or any other Milliken Creek Spa offering
  • Gourmet breakfast for two each morning served in-room or anywhere on property
  • Concierge assistance in planning Napa Valley outings including winery visits and dinners
  • Two guest passes to Synergy Wellness and Fitness Center
  • Daily sunset Magic Hour wine and cheese reception
  • Late-night cordial bar

Here’s the best part – Travel Smart Blog is giving away a Scents of the Season Package* to a lucky TSB reader!! Just comment on this post “I love the Scents of the Season from Travel Smart Blog and Milliken Creek Inn” and a winner will be randomly chosen, and announced here on TSB next week! How’s that for a little New Year magic?

*The contest ends Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. The winner will be announced the week of January 14, 2013.

**The Scents of the Season package is valid for stays Sunday through Thursday through January 31, 2013. For complete package details or to reserve your stay please visit www.MillikenCreekInn.com or call 800.822.8418.

 
 

 

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