Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
- Access America
- Insure My Trip
- TravelGuard International
- I Travel Insured
- Programs offered by American Express, Visa, MasterCard
You can compare them by checking Travel Insurance Review, a non-biased industry organization. And be sure to check your homeowner's policy, even your auto insurance policy for hidden gems of coverage.
Another advantage of insurance is that it gives you one place to call to arrange all the details, including re-imbursement.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
- bath amenities from Natura Green. Packaging is made recycled paper and bottles are bio-degradable (made from a cornstarch based product), and all products are non-animal tested.
- $5.00 off Overnight Valet Parking for guests driving a hybrid vehicle.
- Bottled Water provided from Natura Waters. All carbonization and filtration will be done on-site and glass bottles are sanitized and re-used.
- Non-toxic, organic cleaning products used for housekeeping.
- An Electric Cart for hotel staff to use for running local errands.
- All paper products and stationary printed on recycled paper.
- Rooms furnished with Dual Flush low flow toilets.
- Newspapers will be delivered to guest rooms upon request, not as a standard, to save thousands of copies that are never read.
- The restaurant is being supplied by local vendors and purveyors, and the wine list features primarily American wines to help lower carbon impact.
- There are double layered the windows to prevent loss of heat and air conditioning, and compact fluorescent lighting is used throughout the hotel.
- Even the pool is eco-friendly -- it is solar heated.
Hotel Shangri-La also has partnered with a recycling agency to pick up all bottles and cardboard, since recycling bins are not a standard city service in Santa Monica.
They've also partnered with Midway Car Rental agency, which offers the largest selection of hybrid cars and is located blocks from hotel. Their fleet includes the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX400 SUV and LS600 sedan, Chevy Tahoe and Toyota Camry.
Hotel Shangri-La is an architectural gem and historic landmark. Built in 1939, it is an Art Deco beauty combined with Hollywood allure and Los Angeles history.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The resort is the region's largest energy consumer, and the switch to wind power is expected to encourage other large energy consumers and ski resorts in New Mexico to consider switching to renewable energy to run chairlifts and other amenities. Other green practices include replacing older two-stroke snowmobiles with new, cleaner-burning four-stroke snowmobiles, and more modern, more efficient snow-making compressors.
Employees also contribute to keeping the valley green. Instead of each employee driving an average of 30 miles round-trip every day for work, they will now park their cars at a central location and carpool in a company vehicle. The resort estimates this new program will eliminate more than 150 miles of driving each week, and help reduce carbon emissions in the ski valley
It's not just a winter thing. The resort works with the National Forest Service every summer to plant grass to keep soil from eroding on the ski and snowboard trails. Also, as the area grows, more runs are being thinned into glades instead of clear-cutting them into open trails.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Simply, it's one of the world's most dramatic environmental initiatives, transforming the unsightly 2,000-acre Hiriya garbage dump on the outskirts of Tel Aviv into a magnificent park and 24-hour recreational hotspot. Since the dump was created decades ago, it has been both an eyesore and an ecological mess, complete with a terrible stench and swarming herds of scavenger birds and other varmints.
But that was then. Now, this mess is close to be reborn as Ayalon Park, one of the world's largest urban parks, dotted with trees, tropical gardens, and hiking, horseback riding and bicycling trails. The total transformation of this dump into an oasis of green is an engineering and environmental masterpiece, worthy of visiting.The 230-foot Hiriya Mountain, a waste-mound in the park's center, has been transformed into an eco-friendly attraction of terraces, shaded foot paths and areas with benches and tables for rest or picnics. Atop Hiriya Mountain, there's a spectacular panoramic views of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
But it's not just pretty trees and picnic areas. There's an enormous Recycling Center, 75 acres large, at the base of the "healed" mountain, which uses state-of-the-art technologies for recycling waste -- the very same plastic, paper, dead cell phones and other junk that once simply was dumed on top of the growing piled.
Arie Sommer, Comissioner of Tourism, North and South America, said, "The park will be a hotspot for nature-seeking tourists and a "front door" to Tel Aviv's amazing natural landscape."
Congrtatulations to Tel Aviv and Israel for this astounding green initiative. It's something I hope will be copied with other cities with similar unsightly and eco-dangerous dumps.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The new High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, New York, is pegging its room rate to whatever the Dow Jones' closing number is each Friday. If you book a room through December 19, you'll pay the closing bell price in dollars and cents. For example, if the Dow Jones average closes the week at 8,387, the room rate for the following week will be $83.87 -- a savings of more than $160 off the hotel’s $250 average nightly rate.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
The pocket guides incorporate human health recommendations from the Environmental Defense Fund, and flags seafood items that could contain levels of mercury or PCBs that may pose a health risk to adults or children. Fisheries researchers from the Blue Ocean Institute and Monterey Bay Aquarium evaluated the seafood species included on the guides.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Plan Twice, Book Once - Airlines are charging $150 or more if you change your ticket after it's been booked, and many hotels now charge "no show" fees of $50 or more -- as much more as the cost of your entire reservation. So, double-checking appointments before booking can help you save on these potential added charges.
Pack Light - Minimize checked baggage fees by packing and checking less. For longer trips, the cost of dry cleaning may be cheaper than checking extra luggage for additional shirts and pants. Also look into overnight delivery and luggage forwarding services -- for materials or samples to bring on a business trip, or your skis, snowboard or golf clubs for a leisure trip.
Check Your Paperwork - Make sure your passport is current and that you have any necessary visas for your trip in advance. Expired or missing paperwork can delay your trip and add expensive charges for expedited applications. Most travel management companies can provide visa/passport support before you travel.
Be Flexible To Find Savings - For travel to or from an area with multiple airports, search alternate airports or use this option in your online booking tool. For example, in New York City, fares may be less expensive enough at JFK to offset the incremental taxi fare difference for a trip to LaGuardia.
Plan Ahead, Stay In Touch - The earlier you book air tickets and hotel rooms, the more likely you’ll find a lower rate. Ask for price guarantees -- many airlines and hotels offer you a lower rate if the price for your trip drops after you’ve booked it.
Stretch Your Stay to Stretch Your Dollar - Some airlines are bringing back "minimum stay requirements," so you can safe money by postponing your return trip from a Friday until a Sunday or Monday. Or, take the overnight red-eye flight home -- that's usually the least expensive flight of the day for an airline.
Oldies But Goodies - If you are bumped, be sure to get a free voucher, and try to travel in the so-called "off-season" or "shoulder season" for lower travel costs.
Monday, October 13, 2008
The Executive Golf Course of Mayan Group of Riviera Maya Golf is designed by the Jack Nicklaus company, Nicklaus Design. It's an 18-hole Par 54 course, 2,923 yards, with white sand traps, lakes surrounded by natural rock, and jungle vegetation
Playacar Spa & Golf Club was designed and built under the supervision of famous architect Robert Von Hagge. It's a Par 72 in a field of 7,144 yards in the Mayan jungle, dotted lakes and lush vegetation.
Iberostar Playa Paraíso Golf Club, designed by the world-famous P.B. Dye, incorporates the native Mayan jungle into the layout. The course features narrow fairways, undulating greens and deep bunkers. There's also a lighted driving range, the first one in the Riviera Maya, for those of you who like to practice your putts after sundown.
The Moon Spa & Golf Club is another golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. It’s composed of three distinctive fields with 9 holes each, surrounded by mangroves and exotic wildlife. An unusual “all-inclusive” golf plan includes transportation from anywhere in the Riviera Maya, plus food & drinks at the club house.
Riviera Cancún Golf & Resorts is a new course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, with a difficulty of 76.2/ Slope of 146. Playing on this course is being a part of a dynamic game, rolling through fairways and greens, wooden bridges, and the couple of holes along the ocean shore. The club was built in accordance with the local wildlife preservation law.
If that's not enough for you, there are more golf courses scheduled to open this winter in Riviera Maya and neighboring areas of Cancún and Cozumel. For information on those new courses, check the Riviera Maya golf course website.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
the Halloween “Boos Cruise” aboard the Circle Line Downtown. This 2½ hour Halloween Cruise on the 143-ft luxury yacht Zephyr incluees a tour of New York harbor and a costume contest. Again, I suggest you make reservations.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
Even luxury hotels are giving the green light to green travel.
The all-new Omni Fort Worth Hotel will be driving guests around in the all-new Cadillac Escalade Hybrid SUV when the hotel opens in January 2009. The SUV will be a 2009 model, manufactured at the nearby General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas. It will be available to taxi guests to meetings, shopping or attractions such as the Fort Worth Opera, the world-class Amon Carter Museum of art, or one of the world's best honky tonks, Billy Bob's Texas.
Yes, the Escalade Hybrid is Texas-big. But it also has an EPA-estimated 50 percent improved city fuel economy over the traditional model. And it's just one of many environmental efforts built into the the hotel design. These include --
- motion-sensor lighting system to conserve energy during non-peak hours
- revolving doors to help reduce heating and cooling consumption.
- more than 20,000 square feet of landscaped rooftops that conserve energy, filter rainwater and help mitigate the Texas summer heat.
So, I'm giving a hats off salute -- my cowboy hat, of course -- to the Fort Worth Omni for going green without compromising luxury.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Hard to believe, but the green leaves are turning autumn colors -- and the snow is falling already on some mountaintops. Time to start planning your winter ski trip. Where to travel this season?
The question really is when to go skiing to get the best deals. And the answer to that is easy -- early season offers some of the best bargains, and, the slopes, restaurants and hotels are not yet over-flowing with holiday crowds. Here are some great deals that will save you green dollars --
Winter Park, Colorado -- Save 25% on stays of four nights or longer if you book by October 12, 2008. Packages start at $143 per person per night, including a lift ticket. There's an enormous variety of terrain here for any level of skier --novices and others who like long cruising runs will be happy on Vasquez Ridge. I, for one, like to challenge my knees and my self-confidence on the black diamond runs of Mary Jane mountain, where I skied myself into more than one embarrassing splat last season.
Beaver Creek, Colorado -- Technique Weeks are an intensive improvement program, with lots of personalized instruction. The program includes four days of lift tickets interchangeable for Vail and Beaver Creek, the ability to demo 2009 skis and boots, lots of meals and cocktail parties, four days of instruction and a DVD that shows how much you improved and how much fun you had. If you book by Nov. 15, 2008, you also get an Epic Season Pass -- this would cost you $579 if you bought it. The pass gives you an epic choice (okay, pardon the pun) of unlimited skiing at five memorable mountains -- Vail, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge in Colorado and Heavenly in Lake Tahoe. Technique Week reservations can be made through the Hyatt Beaver Creek.
Lake Tahoe -- No more excuses. If you've ever wanted to learn to ski or snowboard, or wanted your significant other or best buddy to join you on the slopes, head for North Lake Tahoe the weekend of December 13 and 14 for the 9th Annual Learn to Ski and Board Weekend. For just $25, you get an all-day beginner lift ticket, group lesson and gear rental. Just $25. That's about what it would cost to stay home and do nothing except a movie with popcorn and soda. And you can choose any of nine resorts to learn at -- including Alpine Meadows, Boreal Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak, Granlibakken, Homewood Mountain Resort, Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA and Sugar Bowl. Reservations are not required, but plan to show up early. Buy tickets at the resort you choose to spend the day playing in the snow.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Labor Day is the day rates drop for hotel rooms and airplane seats. The travel industry calls it 'shoulder season', but don't ask me why or how it got that name. It's low season through mid-November, when prices rise again for the high-priced holidays.
So, here are some great travel deals to take advangtage of -- quick -- before they disappear:
Delta Air Lines has put Hawaii on sale. If you book before Sept. 18th, you can fly for as low as $299 each way between the Mainland and either Honolulu or Kona.
Virgin Atlantic has put London on sale. You can hop across the pond before Oct. 18th for as liittle as $696 round trip from NYC or Boston, $806 from Miami and Orlando, and $950 from Los Angeles. The price is even lower for travel after zoct. 18th.
African Travel, Inc., which specializes in luxury African safaris, is offering free round trip air fare to Africa -- worth more than $1,500 -- from October through December. Choose from a 12-day trip to South Africa and Victoria Falls, or 13 days in Northern Tanzania. Accommodations are in luxury camps, and you'll get the chance to see the Big Five, which incudes elephants, lions and rhinos. It's an amazing experience.
Or, head for the Caribbean in January, when it's warm and sunny and the holiday crowds have left and you have the beach to yourself. Reserve any time this month to save 25% at The Reef Resort in the Grand Cayman islands.
You don't need a US Passport to visit the US Virgin Islands. where most of the top resorts are offering five nights for the price of four between January 1 and March 31, 2009. Just make your reservation before Oct 31, and this travel bargain also includes $300 in travelers checks, and a coupon book with savings on activities and attractions.
Here are just some of the USVI luxury resorts on the islands of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas joining in this offer this fifth-night-free deal --
- The Palms at Pelican Cove, Chenay Bay Beach Resort,
- Carambola Beach Resort & Spa,
- Divi Carina Bay Resort,
- Hibiscus Beach Resort,
- Sand Castle on the Beach,
- The Buccaneer,
- Best Western Emerald Beach,
- The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas,
- Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort,
- Sapphire Beach Resort and Sapphire Village,
- Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort & Spa on St. Thomas.
Travel green and save green during shoulder season.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
- thousands of pounds of prime Colorado beef,
- 15 kegs of local Rocky Mountain brews
- hundreds of pounds of organic produce
- created special menus and even cocktail recipes inspired by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, including Barack On The Rocks
- baked some 11,000 donkey-shaped cookies to be placed on guests' beds each night as turn-down amenities.
- preparing desserts such as Ballot Box Brownies and a red, white and blue Campaign ’08 Trail Mix, which includes healthy yogurt-covered almonds, dried strawberries, and for added crunch, blue M & M’s.
The hotel staff is preparing beyond the kitchen and bar, too --
- memorizing political factoids, the simplist of which is “What city is hometown for Senator Barack Obama?”
- practicing checking in large numbers of arriving delegates
- preparing for the nightly race to deliver more than 800 gifts reflecting the official DNC colors of red, white, blue, and eco-friendly green.
- the bell staff has been building its biceps for the 3,000 pieces of luggage it will be handling and opening the door some 5,000 times for entering and exiting guests.
If you haven't got your room booked yet, you're too late. The Ritz-Carlton has a waiting list. But you're never too late to become a fan of the Mile High city of Denver, which I love, especially in winter, when pass through on my way to the great Colorado ski country just west of town.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The wind-powered chairlift has received the 2008 Golden Eagle Award for overall environmental excellence from the National Ski Areas Association, the trade association that represents more than 300 North American alpine resorts that account for more than 90 percent of the skier/snowboarder visits.
The award is sponsored by CLIF® BAR, the leading organic-certified energy bar, which skiers, boarders, hikers and bikers all stash in their pockets or backpacks for a quick fix mid-slope. They also make the Luna brand, which I personally prefer to the original Clif, which can be kinda tough to chew when it's cold, like when I'm skiing.
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is celebrating the first birthday of the Zephyr lift this week with an on-mountain festival, plus free tours of the turbine. This is your opportunity to see how renewable energy works, up close and personal, as the saying goes. Be forewarned -- it's a hike to and from the turbine from the top of the chairlift. But worth it, for the edcuation you'll get about green, renewable energy in the travel industry, including ski and snowboard resorts-- and the view is pretty spectacular, too.
Just so you know -- Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England -- about half-way between Boston and New York City. And although other resorts buy wind power or carbon credits to operate their chairlifts, this one is the only mountain resort in all of the United States to generate its own energy using alternative wind power.
The Zephyr is powered by a 1.5 MW GE wind turbine, enough to power nearly 800 houses. It cost just under $4 million to build, including construction of a road to the tower and blades, but the resort expects it to pay for itself in seven years. And think of all the diesel fuel and fumes the Jiminy Peak wind turbine is not using! Good for you, Jiminy Peak.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
A full moon can cast enough light that it is possible to hike or even read a book outside without a flashlight or other additional outdoor lighting. And a meal in the moonlight -- how romantic can things get.
The next full moon is the weekend of August 14-17, and The Boulders in Scottsdale, Arizona, has a special lunar package designed to draw on the power of the universe -- especially that full moon -- to help tune the body, inspire the spirit and open the mind.
One memorable thing to do is to walk the resort's labyrinth under the moonlight. I've done it in bright sunlight, and even though I'm too pragmatic as a journalist to be especially spiritual, I did, indeed, feel the power. So I can just imagine the forces at play under a full moon.
The package also includes --
- Daily morning group hikes in the foothills of the Sonoran Desert
- Unlimited fitness classes
- Three 50-minute spa services such as massage, wrap, facial, scrub
- Three daily meals, plus afternoon tea if your tummy has room
- Daily lecture on such topics as nutrition, health, fitness, wellness and astrology
- An interactive cooking demonstration, more like a lesson, with the chefs at The Boulders award-winning Golden Door Spa
- A pedometer, so you can track your hiking mileage during your stay
- A rock climbing lesson on the boulders of The Boulders
- Labyrinth walks, daylight and moonlight
BTW -- The Boulders was one of the first resorts in the world to go organic, serving only organic foods. And organic wines, too. Definitely, a resort that knows a few things about green travels!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Take a guided kayaking trip up Indian Arm: Deep Cove Canoe & Kayak Centre offers a variety of guided canoe and kayaking trips. Try the "Deep Cove Explorer", a three-hour tour that runs every afternoon in the summer and sends you peacefully gliding through the water and exploring marine areas unavailable to motorized boats. Head out along Indian Arm in search of eagles, seals, salmon and other marine life while learning proper water safety and paddling techniques.
Wilderness paddle and beach BBQ: Lotus Land Tours offers an exciting six-hour wilderness paddle including a sumptuous BBQ salmon lunch on a small, uninhabited island.
Experience the First Nations with Takaya Tours: Join guides from the Coast Salish nation on a unique two-hour canoe adventure up Indian Arm. Paddle a 13-metre cedar canoe as First Nations guides sing traditional songs, tell stories and point out ancient village sites.
A trip that's for the birds: Travel along the rugged coastline en route to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary via a Steveston Seabreeze Adventures bird-watching tour. You'll paddle through managed wetlands, natural marshes and low dikes in the heart of the Fraser River estuary. The most famous resident is the bald eagle, but keep your eyes peeled for sandpipers, red-tailed hawks, peregrine falcons, cormorants, tufted puffinsCost is $29.95 per adult.
Paddling your own kayak or canoe definitelly classifies as green travels.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Microtel gives you free internet and free Wi-Fi, something high-priced luxury hotels don't. Why they don't is something I don't understand, but that's another story.
Microtel also gives you free local and free long distance phone calls. Does any other hotel chain -- at any price -- give guests free long distance phone calls? If you know of one, let me know. Sure, sure, most of us have cellphones with L.D. included, but this way, you don't have to use up your minutes. Use theirs.
The chain is also green when it comes to the environment, with high-efficiency windows, upgraded insulation and laundry equipment. And guests are encouraged to recycle paper, glass and plastics. The chain also is a sponsor of The Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH) and known as the preferred hotel chain for travelers with disabilities.
No wonder this growing chain ranks at the top of the list for guest satisfaction among hotels in the economy price by J.D. Power and Associates
The newest link in the chain is in Verona, New York, about half-way between Albany and Syracuse. A great location for summer travel to the Catskills, Adirondaks and Finger Lakes.
The location also is adjacent to Turning Stone Resort Casino and the Skana Spa at Turning Point, to several championship golf courses, and both Colgate University and Hamilton College are nearby.
So travel green at Microtel Inn & Suites.
Monday, July 21, 2008
In Denver -- that's the city's skyline pictured -- the full moon party is held at the city's only rooftop hotel pool, at the Warwick Denver Hotel, on the night of the full moon. Since August 16th is a Saturday, it should be quite a party, with live jazz, Perrier Jouet champagne, and passed hors d’oeuvres. You can just go to the rooftop party, or make the party part of a weekend package that includes accommodations.
Squaw Valley, at the north end of Lake Tahoe, offers guided Sunset Hikes on Friday and Saturday evenings all summer, and Full Moon Hikes on the evening before and the evening of the full moon in August. The hikes leave from High Camp, at the top of the Cable Car, at approximately 6 pm. High Camp, at 8,200 feet, is an ideal trailhead for exploring this mountain, with it's beautiful views of year-round snow-capped peaks, and the cobalt blue lake sparkling in the distance below. Guides share their knowledge wealth of information about the geology, flowers, trees and animals native to the region, as well as environmental projects currently underway at the resort.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Are you are one of the procrastinators who still hasn't gotten around to getting your passpport? No worries -- if you are a US citizen, you do not need a valid US passport to mancation, girlfriend getaway, babymoon or simply vacation in some of the best destinations in the Caribbean.