Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

City of the Month: San Francisco, the Most Charming City in the U.S.

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Each city has its own unique personality that shines through just like the characteristics we look for in a soul mate. San Francisco, the seventh most popular domestic destination for Americans according to the Hotels.com Hotel Price Index™ (HPI™), claimed the title of “Most Charming” in a recent Hotels.com survey.  This Valentine’s Day, we are honoring San Francisco as the most charming city to take a valentine, and for the rest of February, we’ll let you in on some of the best hotels, activities and hidden gems in this City of the Month.

How to Spend Valentine’s Day in Charming San Francisco:

Villa Florence, a hotel in the heart of Union Square, oozes 0_BYC59Tcharm.  In contemporary Italian style, it features a breathtaking marble lobby and rooms draped in colors of Tuscany.  The location is ideal, two blocks away from the Theatre district and in the midst of Union Square.  The adjacent restaurant, Kuletos, provides decadent Italian dishes, perfect for a romantic getaway.  Head over to close by Bar Norcini for cocktails in an intimate nightcap to the evening.  The hotel is not far from Fisherman’s Wharf and the Embacadero, where couples can sample delicious local foods, see beautiful sights off the Bay, and even embark on a romantic Valentine’s Day cruise.

To find the latest hotel deals and Valentine’s Day travel ideas, visit Hotels.com and follow @hotelsdotcom on Twitter.

 

About the Survey: Conducted by Google Consumer Surveys between January 25 – 31, 2014. Each question sampled at least 1,200 unique, randomly sampled internet users across the Google Consumer Surveys publisher network.

 
 

 

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Mulled Wine, Snowshoes and Ice Climbing – Best Ways to Brighten Your Winter Months

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Skiing and snowboarding may be winter’s top activities but there are plenty of other fun ways to embrace the cooler temps. If you’re looking for something to do this winter, whether with friends, on a date, or just some family fun, try a few of these winter must-do’s.

  1. Drink hot buttered rum and mulled wine – and hot chocolate for the kiddos, of course.
  2. Hot tubbing – Kick back in an outdoor Hot Tub. Is there really anything better?
  3. Take a carriage ride through downtown – Assuming that the weather outside is above zero, take a romantic carriage ride through a downtown near you.  By day or by night, there’s something special about snuggling with blankets and the gentle jingle of bells tinkling to the stride of strapping horses.Snowmobiler Driving Through Snow
  4. Ride on a snowmobile – A snowmobile is winter’s convertible.
  5. Take a trip to Reno - The city’s proximity to ski resorts and other recreational areas make Reno a top winter vacation spot. You can find 18 ski resorts in the Reno and Lake Tahoe area.
  6. Stay in the Québec Ice Hotel - The Hôtel de Glace is a must-see attraction to discover each winter. With its huge snow vaults and its crystalline ice sculptures, the Hôtel de Glace impresses by its dazzling decor. From January 5th to March 23th, enter this magical universe and live an incredible experience by visiting this ephemeral work of art.
  7. Strap on some snowshoes – Even your backyard can become a new adventure.  Local outdoor stores have hourly rentals for a one-time extravaganza.
  8. Try ice climbing – Learn to climb waterfall ice in New Hampshire. There are multiple guide companies to help you get your crampons.
  9. Visit Old Faithful and Yellowstone National Park - The famed national park is even more splendid in the. For a very unique experience stay at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge. The only way to get there is by a commercial snow coach.
  10. Watch the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – A great excuse to veg out on the couch and cuddle up by the fire in the dreariest month of the winter.

 

 
 

 

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Warm Weather Escapes to Beat the Winter Woes

Friday, January 10th, 2014

The New Year has certainly started off with a chilly beginning. The record freezing temps that terrorized much of the US earlier this week may just be the beginning of what Ol’ Man Winter has in store for 2014. That leaves me with the need for a warm weather escape. If you’re feeling the same way, pack up your sunglasses and swimsuits and chart a course for warmer weather at one of these amazing hotels.

Montage Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach, CA
The Montage Laguna Beach makes it easy to put your winter woes behind you. This craftsman-style luxury resort in arts-oriented Laguna Beach offers ocean-view rooms and suites, seasonal artisanal cuisine, and a nature-based spa. The service and staff of the large resort make it feel like a boutique property. The resort also has children and teen programs.

The Atlantic Resort & Spa Hotel
Fort Lauderdale, FL
The Atlantic Hotel is a great place to put your frostbitten toes in the sand. The beachfront hotel has 124 guest rooms with private terraces with ocean views, as well as kitchenettes and BOSE sound systems. The guest reviews are overly positive raving on the stellar customer service, amenities, and overall stay experiences. Will you join them?
TSB INSIDER TIP: Flying into Fort Lauderdale’s airport (FLL) can often be easier and more affordable than flying into busy Miami International (MIA).

Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia
Scottsdale, AZ
You’ll forget you are in Arizona when you set foot in this five-star, 35-acre, Spanish-inspired retreat. Made up of four “villages” featuring fountain-filled courtyards, pools, a full-service spa and health club. Set up against Camelback Mountain, you’ll be winter warm poolside at this Scottsdale retreat.

Jake’s Hotel
Treasure Beach, Jamaica
An eco-chic bohemian hotel that is as fun as it is functional and affordable, Jake’s Hotel is on Jamaica’s southern coast and is a unique family-run hotel features 35 hippy-chic cottages on Jamaica’s Treasure Beach. The restaurant at Jake’s uses only locally-sourced ingredients and serves up some of the tastiest meals on the entire island. The hotel’s Driftwood Spa is naturally elegant and therapeutic. It’s a true treasure on Treasure Beach!

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Honolulu, HI
Want Hawaii on a budget? It can be done. The Aston Waikiki makes it possible with rates that tend to range between $100 and $150 a night. Free breakfast, ocean front views, and lots of attractions such as the Zoo and Aquarium are within walking distance.
TSB INSIDER TIP: Set up a fare alert on airfarewatchdog.com from your origination city to Oahu to get the jump on Hawaiian airfare deals.

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort Hotel
Vero Beach, FL
On Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and less than two hours southwest from the Magic Kingdom is where you’ll find a Disney beachfront family oasis. The resort features four restaurants, mini putt-putt, a sing-a-long campfire, pools, and more. And in the winter, temperatures rarely drop below 65° in this balmy Florida city. 

Hotels.com is featuring some great deals in California and Arizona for warm-weather hotels and resorts. So, shovel out the driveway and get planning your winter vacay today!

 
 

 

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Travel App of the Month: EpicMix

Friday, December 27th, 2013

The FREE and dare I say, addictive, EpicMix (EpicMix for Android) ski app keeps you in the “snow” if you ski in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone (all in Colorado), Heavenly, Kirkwood, or Northstar (all in California). The app is feature-rich, and brings a whole new level of interactivity to your ski vacation.

EpicMix uses scanners mounted on lifts at each of these Vail Resorts ski areas to automatically read radio frequency identification tags embedded on people’s lift passes. Get on a lift and your elevation is automatically tracked. I find it especially interesting to see where my family (my son, in particular) has skied that day since they are typically more adventurous than dear ol’ mom.

EpicMix lets you:Familyskiday

  • Track your vertical feet
  • Access trail maps, lift status, run conditions, weather reports, web cams, and the latest traffic info for all six mountains
  • Race against your friends, family and even four-time World Cup Champion Lindsey Vonn
  • View and download photos taken by the EpixMix on-mountain photographers
  • Connect with friends and family within the app to share your ski results; and you can connect with Facebook and Twitter to share your action photos, activity, and special accomplishments

Special accomplishments? Yes! Skiers who have an RF-enabled Season Pass, Epic Day lift ticket, or PEAKS card earn digital pins for their ski activity and accomplishments on the mountains.
 If you are competitive or curious, it can be a lot of fun. Skiers collect points for each digital pin they earn and can choose to share their point totals to see how they measure up against all skiers and achieve some serious bragging rights. EpicMix posts nothing publicly until a user activates an EpicMix account and chooses to share information.

New for the 2013/2014 Ski Season: lesson goers (that’s me) can track their progress in Ski and Snowboard School with EpicMix Academy.

 
 

 

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Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

Happy holidays to all of our readers! Thanks for reading our posts this past year!

In the spirit of holiday cheer, we wanted to share some of our favorite submissions from our #FilmItFriday series.

Thanks to everyone who submitted!

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“Fun with Santa” from @rkosully

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“Me and my furbabies” from @xriyah

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“Merry Christmas” from @juanrj83

 
 

 

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Hotels To Inspire Your Travel for the New Year

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

If you’re like me, then you’re already thinking about all the places you want to visit in 2014. But we can all use a dose of travel inspiration. And maybe it’s not where you go, but where you stay that needs that inspiration. Hotels.com® recently recognized some of the most outstanding hotels based on insights from the more than 10 million verified Guest Reviews found on the leading hotel booking website.

Best Ski Hotels

YMs68xaP7RI-C_SFKLgT1iF9fPYsbEzLYY_0k22nVtkThe Arrabelle at Vail Square in Vail, Colo. was rated 4.8 out of 5 by Hotels.com guests and for good reason; it has an ice skating rink on site! Hotel Madeline in Telluride is another excellent choice in Colorado, rated 4.7 by Hotels.com Guests, featuring everything from a ski valet to a wintertime hot chocolate bar. In Jackson, WY, The Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa is the place to go, with several acres to explore on ski, foot, sled, or snowmobile – it’s the winter outdoor enthusiast’s paradise.

Best Spa Hotels

Relaxation-seekers will be hard pressed to find any better places to kick-off 2014 than at any of the top spa hotel picks from Hotels.com. The Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt New Orleans (4.6 rating) is one of only three in the country and has a 180 year tradition in beauty and relaxation. New spas, like the one in the 2-year-old Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (4.8 rating), are also offering unparalleled services that receive high marks from Hotels.com guests. In San Diego, the 4.9 rated Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa is an award-winning wellness oasis that includes a Yoga Pavilion, Pilates studio, advanced exercise programs and retreats.

Best Casino Hotels

The Wynn Las Vegas (4.7 rating) is among the most glamorous destinations on the Las Vegas Strip. Along with its sister property Encore at Wynn Las Vegas (4.6 rating), the two hotels offer a luxurious high-limit gaming experience with quality complimentary drinks and a number of high limit table games. The all-suite Palazzo Resort Hotel & Casino (4.6 rating) is the largest building in the U.S. after New York’s World Trade Center Towers (according to The Real Deal real estate magazine in New York City) and offers the most standard accommodations on the Strip.

Best Golf HotelssqJqTapHKWzo6Xj9V35EtH7Fzbohv6ucpw7LsXHz-Ws

The Mediterranean-inspired Grand Del Mar – San Diego (5.0 rating) offers everything from practice facilities and an instructional golf academy, to golf-hotel packages and a junior course for youth. The Boulders, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (4.8 rating) features two striking golf courses that traverse around granite rock and boulder piles outside of Scottsdale, Ariz. The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea (4.8 rating) boasts three 18-hole championship golf courses amidst the island’s natural beauty and even offers unique activities such as yoga for golfers.

Best Bed & Breakfasts

The Almondy Inn (4.9 rating) in Newport, R.I. is one of the top bed and breakfasts in New England, serving up afternoon wine and cheese within steps of famed Bannister’s Wharf. Visitors to Cape Cod’s Provincetown can stay in the luxurious rooms of the Revere Guest House (4.9 rating). Eva’s Escape at the Gardenia Inn (4.9 rating) in San Antonio offers guests in-room massages, as well as afternoon and evening desserts.

Feel Inspired? I sure do. Happy and Safe Travel for the New Year!

 
 

 

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Where to Stay in Charlotte: TSB City of the Month

Monday, December 16th, 2013

From gleaming high-rise banking hotels to local B&Bs and water park resorts, Charlotte’s mix of hotel accommodations matches the city’s diversity of business, art and culture. So no matter what you are looking for when planning a visit to Charlotte, you’re sure to rest comfortably in ‘The Queen City.’

For Shopping

In the affluent SouthPark neighborhood, the Hampton Inn & Suites SouthPark at Phillips Place is just steps from shopping, wining and dining. Not to mention this gem is affordable too, with rates from $145/night on Hotels.com.  In the same area you may also want to consider a stay at the Marriott Charlotte Park Hotel.

For Sports

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If you want to get in the middle of Charlotte’s Center City, and close to Bank of America Stadium, reserve your room at the Westin Charlotte. It

has 700 rooms offering beautiful views; there’s even an indoor pool.

The Embassy Suites Charlotte/Concord Golf Resort & Spa is the “official” hotel of Charlotte Motor Speedway and is actually within walking distance. Many NASCAR drivers and teams actually stay here. But fast driving shouldn’t be the only reason to consider this resort; it also features a spa and golf course.

For Romance

It’s hard to not feel the love at the Charlotte landmark hotel where southern charm meet modern luxury. Duke Mansion was built in 1915, features 20 roomsand is on the National Registry of Historic Places. It’s played both home and host to plenty of prominent figures. The hotel operates as a non-profit with proceeds going to preserve and protect the Charlotte treasure.

For Business

A business traveler’s home away from home, The Hyatt Place Charlotte – City Park offers free parking, free Wi-fi, a convenient café/coffee shop for snacks on the go and conference rooms equipped with A/V resources.

2733328_25For Families

Smart parents know that when you are traveling on a site seeing vacation with the kids, planning some “quality kid time” is critical to the trip’s success. Charlotte’s Great Wolf Lodge is a great family destination and even makes for a great staycation for families living in the surrounding communities. A stay at this hotel includes access to the property’s 80,000 square foot water park.

 
 

 

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A Perfect Weekend Away in Charlotte, NC: TSB City of the Month

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

If you’re looking too get away for a long weekend and you want to visit a city that is not too bustling, but not too quiet, not too artsy or action-packed, then try Charlotte, NC. It’s just right for a getaway weekend with the perfect combination of everything that makes ‘The Queen City’ a favorite travel spot for friends, couples and families up and down the East Coast.

200177106-001Charlotte is the #2 banking capital outside of Wall Street and gives the city a certain metropolitan buzz that you’d expect in a downtown. One of the things I like most about Charlotte is how pedestrian-friendly it is. You can walk anywhere in the vicinity of Trade and Tryon (the two main streets) and encounter art, music, and great dining options. Downtown is also a great place to sit and people-watch. It was especially prime people watching when Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention last year.

And just outside the city are some fantastic, hip neighborhoods beckoning for you to explore them. SouthPark is full of wonderful shops and restaurants. For an inexpensive treat, park at South 21 Curb Service and experience the 1955 drive-in a modern twist. Indulge in thick chocolate milk shakes, hot hush puppies, and crispy onion rings…and a trout sandwich.

Charlotte’s artsy NoDa neighborhood features some of the finest art galleries around. Twice a month there is an art crawl, held on the 1st and 3rd Friday starting at 6pm, and let’s you peruse some of the city’s finest galleries. After you can chill at Dolce Vita, a low-key wine bar and neighborhood gathering spot.

And up the road in Concord, NC, you can get that small-town experience. Concord features three historical districts with many beautifully preserved homes worth driving around and the Memorial Gardens are a botanical delight in the spring and summer months. Union Street in Concord is a fun walk with local shops, restaurants, museums and art galleries.

Later this week, we’ll take a look at where to stay and more suggestions on what to do and areas to explore when visiting Charlotte.

 
 

 

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The Digital Detox: Can You Really Disconnect on Vacation?

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Thanks to WiFi and 4G and the Internet, it’s nearly impossible to escape the going-ons of life, whether for work or social pleasures.  That’s why “digital detox” vacations are becoming more popular as people find themselves wanting to unplug and go off the grid for awhile, and actually enjoy some quality time with family or friends.

A number of great hotels and resorts in America are ready to help travelers disconnect while on vacation whether its through their remote locale or their take-no-prisoners approach to removing that cell phone from your hand.

Do you need a digital detox?

The hoteliers I spoke to say that it takes a few days for most guests to stop feeling antsy as a result of the separation from their devices. Physical activities, like surfing and yoga, help make the transition easier.

Off-the-Grid at Amangiri Resort

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Located in Southern Utah, just shy of the border with Arizona, sits the luxurious and unparalleled off-the-grid desert oasis, Amangiri Resort. With 600 protected acres looking out towards the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this resort and its minimalist architecture blends spectacularly into the landscape. The resort pampers its guests with exquisitely prepared meals, the 25,000 sq. ft. Aman Spa, and a pool sunken into the rock formations that will take your breath away.

Escape to Little Palm Island

No phones, no TVs and no shortage of fun and romance with a private beach, outdoor pool, and fitness facility at Little Palm Island (a Noble House Resort). Located on Little Torch Key, the only way you are getting to or from this resort is by seaplane or boat. The cottages are lovely (outdoor showers, freestanding soaking tubs), the beaches are private and magical, and the opportunity to unwind and disconnect is yours the minute you make a reservation at this Florida Keys resort.

Silence in the City

Chicago is anything but off-the-grid, yet one hotel is helping some guests achieve silence in the city. The Hotel Monaco Chicago provides guests with a “black-out” option, whereby they surrender their gadgets to reception upon checking in. Guests can fight their gadget addictions and enjoy their stay sans digital intrusion with the help of the hotel’s attentive staff.

Disconnect to Reconnect at the Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

Guests at the Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo can have both an eco-adventure in the Costa Rican jungle and a serene surfing sanctuary. Through a partnership with iPhone case company, Uncommon, guests can choose to surrender their iPhones for 24 hours. And then the resort provides them with a list of 24 things to do without technology during that time at the resort. Phones are returned after the allotted time with a choice of four Costa Rican-themed iPhone cases. Activities include a Costa Rican coffee scrub treatment at the spa, and sipping fresh coconut water by the pool.

Tech-free Zones at Marriott Caribbean and Mexico Resorts

The JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa is one of nine Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts featuring “tech-free zones” throughout their properties. These zones are designated to encourage guests to leave their digital devices in their hotel rooms and relax, read, or enjoy quiet conversation. I’d spend my time in the

14-foot dive pool with the artificial reef!

Focus on the Family at the Renaissance Pittsburgh

The Renaissance Pittsburgh is trying to keep families connected with its
“family digital detox package.” Instead of families occupying the same rooms but not sharing in the experience, the hotel encourages them to reconnect with one another. All laptops and mobile phones must be surrendered on check-in, and the television, telephone, and iPhone docking station are removed from the guest room. Instead, families are provided board games and playing cards.

How willing are you to disconnect on vacation?

 
 

 

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Top Three Ways to Use Your Days

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
happy new year 2013 on the beach; Shutterstock ID 115836760

Achieve your 2013 Travel Resolutions by the End of the Year

With many Americans failing to use their allotted vacation time, we thought it would be fun to come up with the best ways to use those days before 2013 is over.  After you check out the top three ways to use your days, talk to @HotelsDotCom on Twitter to let us know what you will do with #OneMonthLeft:

Turn your obligations into “obli-cations”

One may not choose to go to Ohio for a family reunion or to Seattle for a business trip, but obligatory travel doesn’t mean you can’t turn it into an “obli-cation.” After the dishes are cleaned up, or the meeting is over, head to a nearby city to extend obligatory travel into an obli-cation; something relaxing, budget-friendly and effortless. Check out the Hotels.com mobile app for last minute hotel deals, and find that this convenient vacation option can be extremely fulfilling.

Completely Disconnect

Eighty-five percent of American travelers use a smartphone on vacation, according to Skift.com, but hotels are helping travelers re-discover the benefits of getting off the grid. For example, Buccament Bay Resort in Saint Vincent and The Grenadines offers a “digital detox” package where guests surrender their cell phones and gadgets to implement complete relaxation. Other hotels, such as The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel in Jamaica and Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona are offering more spa, yoga and wellness options to relax travelers and remind them of the purpose of a vacation in the first place.

Get out of Your Comfort Zone

This travel resolution is a two-in-one, as it accomplishes travel goals and personal goals simultaneously. Whether it’s tackling a crazy adventure, learning a new language or traveling solo for the first time, anything is possible! For instance, the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel in Oman requires all guests to choose an extreme form of transfer service from the airport.  Arrive at the hotel via speedboat, parasail or an all-terrain Jeep. The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago allows guests to use guitars with personal sound systems so neighbors don’t hear them learning from the in-room video tutorial. The Mistral Singles hotel in Greece helps guests embrace the feeling of traveling alone in a foreign destination.  Whatever the goal may be, hotels of all kinds can help employees achieve what cannot be done by sitting in an office.

 
 

 

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