December 16, 2009

Australia Family Vacation

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

Australia SydneyMost travelers already know that if they book a vacation in advance, they will get some discounts. But how about getting another cruise for free when you book a vacation in Australia? Australia Family Vacation. Book Now and Save!

Let’s talk more about the deal. If you book the vacation by Jan 15, 2010, you will get a free 3-night Bahamas cruise. Plus, children under 12 get reduced rates for the Australia Family Vacation cruise. The adult land price is $4,329 and the cruise lasts for 10 days. It departs on June 12, 2010. The tour highlights include: Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling, Ayers Rock, Sydney Harbor Jet Boat Tour, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park and Taronga Zoo.

You should also know that the tour includes the following: services of adventure guides, all accommodations, meals, taxes and transfers. The tour members meet in Queensland and ends in Sydney.

Should you not want to book the flight to and from Australia from the tour operator, you can always look for flights to Australia on your own. You can even book a round trip flight into Sydney and then travel to Queensland to meet with the tour group.

Are vacation packages a good idea?

As you have just noticed Australia vacation packages come in many forms and you can even add services to them if you want to. So, they do offer a lot of flexibility.

However, many independent travelers are not willing to put up with the times set by the tour guides and rush from one place to another or while visiting a particular landmark. And for them, booking their vacation independently is the best way to go.

Other options

June is a great month to visit any European country. The weather is nice (sometimes even hot already) and the crowds haven’t yet “conquered” the continent. The good (and still affordable) choices include Italy vacations, Greece vacations and Ireland vacations. As usual, the vacation packages come in many forms and you can easily choose only the accommodation and book the flight on your preferred airline or choose the cheapest option.

In some parts of Europe – Italy, Greece, Croatia – it is already possible to get a nice tan, but the water is still quite cold to consider swimming (at least in the first part of the month).

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December 15, 2009

Colorful Festivals in Mumbai in January

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

MumbaiMumbai, once known as Bombay, is not only the largest city in India but also one of the biggest cities in the entire world. It is the most cosmopolitan Indian city. The city has three main seasons: summer, monsoon and winter. The best time to visit Mumbai is between November and February.

There are a lot of things to do and see but the main tourist attractions are concentrated in South Mumbai. The colonial buildings, the museums, the galleries, the parks, the zoo, the markets, the malls, the religious places and the beaches offer just as many opportunities to spend your time while visiting this young Indian city.

Planning the budget

While it’s not uncommon to find all inclusive vacation packages focusing on the beach resorts located within the city, this might not be the best approach.

Overall, Mumbai is more expensive than other Asian cities, but it doesn’t mean you cannot put together an affordable package on your own. The airport serving Mumbai is the busiest in India and is served by a lot of airlines. Finding flights to India is not hard but if you travel during the high season (November to February) it’s best to book your flight slightly in advance.

The majority of cheap hotels in Mumbai can be found in South Mumbai, where most of the tourist attractions are. However, although the accommodation is cheaper by Mumbai standards, it’s more expensive than in the rest of Asia, so be prepared for some higher rates. Do consider that getting from one place to another in Mumbai is quite hectic so the hotel should be located close to the places you plan to visit.

What to do

While in December the only major even going on in the city is Christmas, January comes with an array of colorful festivals.

Banganga Festival takes place in early January and features a lot of concerts in the Banganga area of Mumbai. Musicians from all over India perform within the Walkeshwar Temple Complex.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated on January 14 and is a Hindi harvest festival. According to the lunar calendar, on this date the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac. This date is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.

Muharram is celebrated in late January and is a Muslim event marking the death of Imam Hussain.

Mumbai Marathon takes place in late January. It is a relatively new addition to the sports scene of the city and attracts lead athletes from all over India and the world. It features a variety of races through the streets of the city, all for charitable purposes.

January 26 marks Republic Day, a national holiday and represents the anniversary of India becoming a republic in 1950 (the biggest celebrations take place in New Delhi).

Where to stay

Choosing a nice place to stay in a good location might be a bit tricky but with some research done in advance, you’ll be happy to find what you want. If you want to come to Mumbai during the marathon, make sure to book the room in advance.

Hotel Samrat is located in the heart of Mumbai and opposite Khar Road (West) Railway Station. It is only 3 minutes away from the shopping area of Linking road, Bandra. Each room has a bathroom, WC, fan, TV and phone. There’s a restaurant within the hotel and wi-fi can be used for a fee. Bed rates start at US$44.92 per night in a single room, US$28.09 per night per person in a double room and US$20.20 per night per person in a 10 beds dorm.

Hotel Pearl Mumbai is located in Chembur, in the north end of Mumbai, in the heart of the business center. They offer 39 double rooms. The bed price starts at US$16.85 per person per night.

Hotel Galaxy Residency is located in the Mumbai’s suburban district. They offer 16 rooms, all with TV, wi-fi, phone and coffee maker. There’s a restaurant on site and there are also parking facilities. Bed prices start at US$33.70 per night in a single room and US$20.22 per person per night in a double room.

Hotel Singhs International is located in North Central Mumbai, offering 30 rooms (private and dorms), all with AC. The linen is included in the room price. Each room has TV and fridge. There’s wi-fi in the lobby. Bed prices start at US$40.42 per night in a single room, US$22.47 per person per night in a double room and US$17.98 per person per night in a 10 beds dorm.

Hotel Metro Palace is located close to the local airport, in Bandra west. The rooms are equipped with modern facilities. The hotel also offers a restaurant and a disco. Bed rates start at US$33.70 per person per night in a twin room.

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December 14, 2009

Montreal: ski, events and rich culture

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

MontrealMontreal is an excellent destination for those who want to get a taste of France without paying an arm and a leg to get on the other side of the ocean. Montreal is the third-largest French-speaking city in the world and a city with a strong culture. It is rich in history, culture, cosmopolite, and considered one of the liveliest cities in North America.

Old Montreal is home to the vast majority of historical buildings, most dating from the 17th to 19th centuries. The Downtown area is filled with museums, churches and skyscrapers. There are the places you’ll most likely spend your time checking out. And if you happen to come here during winter, you must try cross-country skiing and ice skating. There are several good path to check out and there are also some ice rinks (two of them are free: Beaver Lake, in the Parc Mont-Royal and the Connected ponds of Lafontaine Park, in Plateau Mont-Royal.

Planning the budget

When planning to visit a city, it’s often a hassle to find vacation packages , especially if the city is cosmopolite and offers a lot of things to do.

So the best bet is to book the flight and accommodation separately. Montreal is served by Trudeau Airport, which is Canada’s third biggest airport. Finding cheap flights to Montreal is easy especially if you plan to travel during the low season. It serves as headquarter for Air Canada so you should start your search with that airline.

When it comes to the accommodation, if you want to stay in cheap Montreal hotels you should look outside the downtown are. The Old City and Downtown are easily tackled on foot but the accommodation is not cheap. So venture outside these areas and use the city’s public transport to get from one place to another.

Things to do

No matter when you visit Montreal, there will always be a lot of things to do and events to attend.

Under the Cuban Sun is an exhibition open until December 31, 2009. It features photographs, texts and a video taken during the seven trips Brother Marie-Victorin and his colleague Brother Léon made in Cuba. It takes place at the Montreal Botanical Gardens.

On Ouvre Les Boites is an exhibition open until April 11, 2010 at the Canadian Railway Museum and features an overview on the museum recent acquisitions.

Being Irish O’Quebec is an exhibition on the integration of Irish immigrants and their contribution to the social, cultural, political and economic landscape of Quebec. It is open until April 4, 2010. The exhibition takes place at the McCord Museum of Canadian History and the admission fee is $13.

Where to stay

When planning a vacation in a large, popular city it takes a bit of planning to find an affordable place located close to the attraction. There are not only budget hotels to choose from but also apartments for rent and hostels to consider.

Appartement Qualitas is located between the Olympic stadium and old Montreal. The minimum stay is 3 nights. Free linen, free internet, free cable TV and free towels are provided by the hostel. There’s also a shared kitchen within the hostel. Bed rates start at US$22.77 per person per night in a double room and US$12.87 per night in a 24 beds dorm.

Explorers House Holiday Makers/ PVT Centre is located across the Metro Jean-Talon station and just 7 minutes from the Latin Quarter. The hostel offers a game room, a dishwasher and a laundry room. There’s free wi-fi within the property, free breakfast, free coffee and tea all day. The linen and towels are included in the bed price. Bed prices start at US$21.29 per person per night in a twin room and US$12.38 per night in a 10 beds dorm.

La Maison du Patriote is located in Old Montreal. The hostel offers free wi-fi within the property. Bed rates start at US$21.78 per person per night in a double room and US$15.84 per night in a 20 beds dorm.

Le Sous-bois is located near the Old Port, in Old Montreal (5 minutes from the skating rink). Free wi-fi is available within the property. The linen and towels are also offered for free. Bring slippers as this is a shoeless hostel. Bed prices start at US$59.40 per person in a double room and US$49.50 per person in a 18 beds dorm.

Hotel Ste-Catherine is located in Gay Village and features spacious rooms with great views of the city. Continental breakfast is included in the room price. Room rates start at US$29.21 per person in a double room and US$18.32 per person in a 4 beds private room.

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December 11, 2009

Dubai Tourism Already Having Problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

DubaiOver the past years, Dubai has been steadily modeling itself as an upscale tourist destination. But it is already pressured by the global economic downturn and the major tourism projects are already defaulting.

According to this article from the Wall Street Journal , Dubai World, the emirate’s investment and holding arm, is on the edge of defaulting.

In addition to the major projects they hold in Dubai, they also own about 6% of the outstanding shares of casino giant MGM Mirage and 50% from the CityCenter project .

More about Dubai

The laid-back emirate has had some success in attracting visitors who seem drawn by what this exotic location has to offer: indoor ski slopes, horse races, famous property on the man-made islands and many more. As opposed to its neighbors, Dubai has a relaxed approach towards what tourists like: freely available alcohol and common beach attire.

Of course, such an approach towards tourism and attracting visitors has led many chains to open hotels here. Hilton Hotels, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC and Marriott International Inc all have properties here.

So far things held quite well during the recession so far in Dubai. The arrivals went up by 5% in 2009 but at the expense of slashing hotel rates and aggressive marketing campaigns. According to Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, 3.85 million visitors came to visit Dubai in the first 6 months of 2009. Ten years ago the emirate received 3 million visitors annually while 20 years ago only 600,000 visited the place during an entire year.

However, with more and more hotel rooms available in Dubai, the occupancy rate went down to 70% during the last part of the year. From January to June it stayed at a comfortable 87%. The reason? Dubai ended June 2009 with about 58,000 more hotel rooms than last year (a 17% increase) and the plans are for even more rooms to open within the next years.

Even worse, the revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell by 36% in October alone as the rates were slashed even more. Right now even 5-star accommodations offer rooms for about $100 a night.

Dubai gets only 6% of its revenue from oil and gas. In the early 1990s when it started marketing itself as a commercial center, there was a lot of development and high end hotels started to be build.

Right now it’s hard to predict what would happen. The added hotel rooms will definitely put pressure on all operators. It’s expected, all over the world, for the occupancy to stabilize but the room rates are likely to stay low.

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December 10, 2009

Montauk – a relaxed destination during winter

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

MontaukMontauk is part of the Town of East Hampton, in Long Island, New York. It is known as a popular beach destination. As soon as the weather turns warm in April, tourists flock here for finishing, surfing and the beaches.

The attractions include the Montauk Point Lighthouse Museum – an excellent place to take the kids; don’t forget to climb to the top of the lighthouse for some incredible views of the ocean – , the Montauk Observatory – if you happen to show up on a clear evening you’ll be able to see the night sky – , Rita’s Stable Petting Farm – where kids enjoy petting baby animals -, the Second House Museum – don’t miss the rose and herbs garden – and the national parks.

Planning the budget

During summer it is a good idea to look for New York vacation packages and hope to find something affordable in Montauk. However, there aren’t any chains here – hotels or restaurants – so it might be tricky to find a good bargain unless you like to explore the posh resorts on the beach.

If you plan to enjoy a relaxed winter vacation here, you need to book the flight and accommodation separately. The closest airport is Macarthur Airport, located about 70 miles from East Hampton, but there are more chances to find a good deal on flights to New York. Once here, rent a car and get on the Long Island Express way. It is definitely the easiest way to reach East Hampton, although you can even take a train or a bus from Manhattan.

Finding cheap hotels in Montauk requires a bit of creatively. Firstly, you should know that some hotels only open in April so the options are quite limited during the low season. Secondly, look for inns and stay away from the resorts.

Things to do

Unfortunately during winter Montauk is a place where nothing seems to happen. You are left with exploring the sites and taking pleasure in the lack of tourists. Or wait and come to visit the place on March 21, 2010 to watch the St Patrick’s Day Parade.

Where to stay

Since winter is low-season in Montauk, chances are you’ll find plenty of places to stay and the prices are affordable. Just be careful that some hotels close during winter.

Gurney’s Inn Resort, Spa and Conference Center offers spectacular ocean views and it’s a year round destination for all types of travelers. Special spa packages are available. Accommodation includes cottages, rooms and suites. The off season rates (until April 2010) start at $255.00 per night for a Ocean View Studio (double occupancy). The weekend rates are higher.

Hartman’s Briney Breezes Motel offers rooms with ocean views, each with terrace or balcony. The rooms have AC, fully equipped kitchen and cable TV. The motel is open from March to November. The daily rates are $150-195 (for 2 persons) for a deluxe studio apartment.

Ocean Resort Inn offers free wi-fi, beach chairs, umbrellas and towels. The inn is open between March and October. The cheapest rates are $105-130 for the lower bedroom units. During the spring and fall weekends there’s a 2 nights minimum stay (3 nights during summer).

East Deck Motel Family Resort is located in Ditch Plains and is a beach resort. The motel is open from May until October. There’s a 2 nights minimum stay during the off season (4 nights during summer). Room rates start at $90 per night for a motel room during the low-season (May and October).

Lido Resort Motel is located in the heart of Montauk Village. The newly renovated rooms are located close to the beach and restaurants. The motel is open from May to October. Weekday room rates start at $110.00 per night for accommodation with 1 queen bed, full kitchen, AC and cable TV. There’s free wi-fi within the property.

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December 9, 2009

Pay 4 nights and get the fifth free at selected properties in Puerto Rico

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

puerto ricoThe high season has pretty much started in the entire Caribbean area and, luckily, the great offers are still available. But if you are not after spending the vacation here right smack during the high season, you can now plan your vacation during the low-season, next year. And, as you know, early booking always gets you some kind of a deal. This time you pay 4 nights and get the 5th free at selected properties in Puerto Rico.

There are two properties you can choose from, a 4-star and a 5-star resort. The offer is valid between May 2010 and December 2010 so there is time to plan your next vacation. The 4-star property is located 8 miles from the airport and 3 miles from town. The 5-star property is located 1 hour from the airport and offers 6 swimming pools. The rates start at $659.00 per person, for 7 nights in May 2010.

Once you’ve got the resort booked, don’t forget to look for flights to Puerto Rico , although right now it would be way too far in advance to consider them. But it’s always a good idea to check out the special rates and offers available.

Other options

May is the last month of spring in Europe, which means the weather starts to be excellent and the crowds haven’t started to arrive yet (at least not at the beginning the month). If you are after a Europe vacation package , it’s a good idea to plan such a vacation for either spring or fall. Places such as Greece, Italy and Bulgaria already have great weather which allows for sunbathing. In fact, the sea side tourist season starts on May 1 in many European countries.

You can look for deals from big European tour operators which offer both resorts and flight as part of the package. However, the flights usually are from UK or Irish airports. Which is not an issue because if you come from the States, you can book a flight to Europe and then hop on the flight offered by the tour operator to get to your destination. Brits are booked on places such as Greece, Italy and Cyprus and typically the prices are very cheap, especially if you book in advance.

Summer 2010 vacations from this tour operator start at £394 per adult, for 7 nights with self catering in Italy and includes the RT flight from London Gatwick to Verona. The apartment is located just 3 km southern-most shores of Lake Garda and offers 2 bars, lounges, cafes, pizzeria and a mini-market.

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December 8, 2009

Milan: A Unique Italian City

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 5:42 am

Milan mainMilano is the most important city in Italy when it comes to business and financial matters. You see, Milan lacks the charming piazzas and cobble stone streets and even though it’s got its fair share of tourist attractions, it remains a business city and not a place geared towards tourism.

Milan is the Mecca of Italian fashion, a paradise for shopping and opera. And let’s not forget the exciting nightlife either. But Milan is and will be the “new” Italy just as much as Rome represents the “old” country.

Planning the budget

Milan is a wealthy city and because it’s the center of the business and banking, it will never be a cheap destination. Plus, it’s home for one of Italy’s most important airports, so there will always be a lot of tourists transiting Milan.

Forget about Italy vacation packages if you plan to spend time in the city. Those are ideal for the tourists wanting to spend time checking out the historical sites of Rome or soaking up the sun on the coast.

Milan is served by the busiest Italian airport in terms of international traffic: Malpensa International Airport. In other words, finding cheap tickets to Milan is the easiest task when planning your vacation in the city. Of course, you should avoid the peak travel season if you want to save some money on airfare. And don’t forget to travel mid-week when the ticket prices are lower.

As for accommodation, the number of cheap hotels in Milan is small , especially if you plan to stay in the city center. But if you want to save money and don’t mind using the public transport – which, by the way, is great! – you can stay in one of the hotels in on the outskirts of the downtown area. Just be careful to read the reviews and choose a hotel within a short walk from bus stop, a tram stop, or a Metro stop. Regardless of the location you choose, you’ll probably need to redefine the term of “cheap hotel” when it comes to accommodation in Milan.

What to do in Milan

Milan marketIf you happen to come to Milan for the winter Holidays, there are quite a few things you can do here. December marks the start of the season Teatro alla Scala opera house, so if you are passionate about lyrical theatre, don’t forget to get a ticket. Picolo Teatro also starts its program in December. Another good reason to experience culture the Italian way.

You can look for a posh nightclub to spend New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately the locals don’t dig the whole open-air countdowns Americans love.

On January 6 you can watch Corteo dei Re Magi, a traditional procession going from the Duomo to Sant’Eustorgio.

There are weekly markets open in Milan in January: Fiera di Senigallia – every Saturday, comprises ethnic handicrafts – and Mercato dell’Antiquariato di Brera – third Saturday of January, focusing mostly on books, jewelry, antiques.

Where to stay

Not ready to redefine your idea of “cheap hotels” when it comes to the price? Well, then look the next best things: hostels. They come in many different forms and many resemble small boutique hostels (and the prices are also quite similar).

Hostel Greco Milan is located near the newest university area. It offers free wi-fi within the property. There are also free city maps for the guests. There’s a bar within the hostel. Bed prices start at €125 per person in a twin room, €104 per person in a 3 bed private room and €25 per person in an 11 bed mixed dorm.

Sweet Hostel offers both private rooms and dorms. There free internet within the property. It is located in the center of Milan, on the most important shopping street, just 4 metro stops from the Duomo. Bed prices start at €30 per person per night in a twin room, €24 per person per night in a 3 bed private room and €31 per person per night in a 6 bed mixed dorm.

Milan Hostel Emmy is located in the center of the city. The hostel was renovated in 2008. There’s free breakfast offered by the hostel. Bed prices start at €37 per person per night in a double room and €21 per person in a 6 bed dorm.

Cristoforo Lux Central Suite is located in the center of the town, just 10 min from the Duomo. It offers apartments for rent in a residential area. The apartments are fully equipped. The prices start at €52 per person per night in a twin room.

Aramis City Centre Studios is located in downtown near the Canals. There’s free wi-fi within the property. The linen and towels are not included in the room price (€5 extra to be added to the total the bed price). Prices start at €69 per person per night in a double room, €38 per person per night in a 3-bed room and €23 per person per night in a 11 bed dorm.

Photos by Jessica Spiegel and might not be used without permission.

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December 7, 2009

Great Weather and Festivals in December in Miami

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 5:01 am

Miami mainTravelers have been heading to Miami for one reason only: the beach! But along with the incredible weather suitable for soaking up the sun year round, Miami also offers excellent restaurants, great shopping and interesting galleries… and all of them make Miami a very popular vacation destination.

The city is huge and there are a ton of things to do, not just stay close to the beach. For those interested in more than catching a tan we recommend visiting the Ancient Spanish Monastery, today a church and a popular marriage location. Those interested in the history, should not miss the Holocaust Memorial and the Jewish Museum of Florida. Several art museums will also draw your attention and you can enjoy some time in nature by checking out the parks (and maybe even listening to live performances).

Planning the budget

Those who want to soak up the sun in Miami will probably start by looking for Florida vacation packages and try to find something that suit their budget. However, while the packages are best for those wanting to spend time in resorts, those who plan to check out the city and the surrounding areas, should consider booking the flight and hotel separately.

The airport serving Miami is one of the busiest in the States and cheap flights to Miami are easy to find regardless of the time of the year when you travel. True, the high season lasts from mid-December to April and that’s when the prices are at their highest but considering the number of flights available, chances are you’ll always be able to find some kind of deal.

When it comes to hotels in Miami , booking at the right time is the key. There is no shortage of rooms available in the city but if you try to book a budget hotel on the spur of the moment right smack in the middle of the high season, chances are you won’t be able to find many options.

What to do in Miami in December

Miami christmasThe month of December is filled with a lot of interesting things to do in Miami. The weather in Miami is mild at this time of the year which makes for a unique way to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. And there are a lot of things you can do, including watching a play – Another Night Before Christmas, until December 27, the Miracle Theatre, Coral Gables -, watching dance performances – Miami Youth Ballet: The Nutcracker, at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, Downtown Miami is only one of the many shows available – listening to live music, or taking the kids to experience some interesting activities – Santa’s Enchanted Forest, until January 3, at Tropical Park, West Miami.

If you want to take a break from the Christmas festivities, there are several festivals to check out. Israel Film Festival takes place between December 16 and 23. Miccosukee Indian Arts Festival takes place from December 26 to January 3 and highlights the color and pageantry of costumed Native Americans from all over the country. Florida Dance Festival: WinterFest takes place between December 27 and January 3 and is held in held in Miami and Miami Beach.

Where to stay

As mentioned earlier, there is no shortage of places to stay in Miami, ranging from cheap to expensive, from famous hotel chains to hidden budget hotels. The key is to book at the right moment. Sure, if you wait until December 23 to book your cheap hotel in Miami, the chances are you won’t find anything remotely cheap. And there’s always the possibility to check out the hostels.

Motel Blu is located within the historical district of Miami. All rooms have 32 inch televisions, microwave, fridge and hair dryers. The hotel offers free wi-fi, free breakfast and free parking. The Red Light restaurant is located within the hotel’s grounds. Bed prices start at $50 per night for a single room and $25 per person per night for a double room.

Harrison Hotel Miami Beach is located in the ‘High End Hotel Corridor’ of South Beach Miami, just steps away from the Lincoln Road Mall and Espanola Way. Please note that this is a youth hostel for international travelers. It offers free breakfast, free wi-fi, free linen and towels, free in room mini-fridges and many more. Bed prices range from $70 per night for a single room, to $30 per night per bed in a double room and $18 per night per bed in dorms.

Jazz on South Beach Hostel is a party hostel in South Beach. They host nightly events for the enjoyment of their guests. It’s located a block away from the beach and offers free breakfast. Guests must be 18 to check in and children under 16 are only allowed in private rooms. Rates start at $30 per night per bed in a double private room and $12 per bed in a dorm.

AAE Miami Beach Lombardy Hotel and Hostel is located right across the street from the beach. There are private rooms and dorms available. Guests can use the common kitchen. Men over 27 are not allowed to book a dorm bed. International Students and Out of State Students should only book a bed in dorm. Bed rates start at $52 per night in a single room, to $27 per bed per night in a double room and $11.50 per bed in a dorm.

The South Beach Hostel was fully renovated in March 2009. It is located in the heart of the famous Art Deco district. It is the only boutique hostel in South Beach. It offers free breakfast, free linen and towels, free wi-fi, free transportation to the airport twice a day and a free welcome drink. Guests must be at least 18 years old. Bed rates start at $42.95 per night per person in a twin room and $16.95 per night in a dorm.

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December 4, 2009

Possible rebound for South Florida hotels

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

MiamiThis week marked the unofficial launch of the high tourist season in South Florida. According to this article in the Miami Herald the demand for hotel rooms has finally begun to rise in South Florida.

So far, the hotel market has been struck by low demand and highly discounted rates which pushed even the flashiest hotels to the brink of foreclosure.

As things stand right now, no one expects the winter season to end the harsh economy crisis for the South Florida hotels although two major sporting events are coming up (Super Bowl and the NFL’s Pro Bowl). Plus, even though the demand will go up, the discounted rates won’t ensure into more profits for the hotels anyway.

A recent forecast by PKF Hospitality Research predicts that the hotels’ per room revenue in the Miami-Dade area will drop another 6% in 2010, after it has dropped 23% in 2009. That’s discouraging news for the hotels which hope for a strong winter to keep them above the floating line.

However, there are some signs that the hotel industry is going to see a modest rebound. For the first time since late 2008, more people are booking hotel rooms in South Florida. Between July and October this year tourists booked 1.6% more hotel rooms than last year during the same period. On the other hand, the mainland follows a trend set by the Keys since the summer when despite a fall in hotel rates, the demand started to pick up. Analysts expect the Keys to finish the year up about 3%. The increase in bookings was predicable in South Florida because as the hotels cut the rates, the tourists finally opened their wallets. Another good sign is that the companies started booking trips to South Florida again.

Industry players believe that the foreign market has hurt the South Florida tourist market. There are better deals in the Caribbean than in Miami and the foreign tourists seem to prefer the first choice. Many US travel businesses which cater for European tourists saw their bookings drop by as much as 15% in 2009.

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December 3, 2009

Festivals and Beautiful Weather in Maui

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 5:38 am

mauiTravelers flock to Maui when the weather is bad elsewhere. So the months between mid-December and April are crowded and expensive. Ironically though, the high travel season doesn’t coincide with the best time to visit the island; that would be either in spring or in fall.

Maui is the second largest of the Hawaiian islands and a very popular vacation destination. The visitors come here for the beautiful nature and outdoor activities.

Planning the budget: vacation packages or travel independently

Typically, Hawaii conjures images of beautiful places for a honeymoon vacation package . Those looking to spend their vacation in Maui, gladly look up Hawaii vacation packages , hoping to be able to save some money, particularly during the high season.

Then, of course, there are those who like to explore the nature and make their own vacation plans and are gladly booking the flight and hotel independently, although, it is slightly more time consuming.

The island of Maui is served by its own airport but you’ll most likely be landing on Honolulu International Airport. Flights to Hawaii are easily available particularly during the high season but make sure to book in advance especially if you plan to visit Hawaii during Christmas or New Year’s.

When it comes to accommodation, Maui hotels range from affordable to very expensive. Of course, if you are looking at the beachfront properties, you’ll probably have a heart attack seeing the prices. But if you are willing to stay further from the beach and rent a car to travel on the island, you’ll be surprised to find a lot of affordable places to stay.

Festivals and other things to do in Maui

No matter when you visit Hawaii, there are always a lot of things to do and festivals to attend. The month of December is special because everything revolves around the Winter Holidays.

The Lahaina Banyan Tree Lighting Celebration takes place on December 5. At 6:30 p.m., the historic Banyan Tree will be lit up and the holiday season starts with an appearance by Santa Claus, an arts and crafts fair and a lot of activities for children.

Na Mele O Maui is a festival which celebrates the old whaling days. The activities include music, dance, arts and crafts. It takes place in Lahaina and Ka’anapali.

The Festival of Arts and Flowers is celebrated each December in Maui and is aimed at those who appreciate the flora and fauna of Maui. The art galleries on Lahaina’s Front Street offer free cocktails and pupus (appetizers) every Friday night.

Where to stay

Hawaii is known as an expensive destination so it surely pays to spend some time looking for an affordable place, particularly if you plan to visit Maui during the high season.

Old Lahaina House is located in West Maui and provides an excellent base for exploring the island and having a great holiday. There’s AC within the property. Room rates start at $64.50 per person in a twin double room.

Outrigger Aina Nalu Resort is located in the heart of Lahaina town, right near Front Street. The minimum stay is 2 nights. There’s wi-fi at the pool and wired high speed internet in the rooms. Room rates start at $145 per night for a bedroom with garden view.

Kahana Falls comprises a fitness center, pool, waterfalls, children pool and other stunning facilities to create a wonderful paradise away from home. Each accommodation unit comprises 2 bedrooms, a kitchen and AC. Room rates start at $99 per night.

Hale Mahina Beach Resort is a beach front condominium, located on a private beach in the West part of Maui. Rates start at $275 per night for the 2 bedroom condo. The minimum stay is 5 nights.

Maui Sunseeker is a gay and lesbian resort in Maui. It offers 17 guest rooms and suites. The rates vary between $105-185 per night for a standard room and $275-395 per night for a penthouse apartment.

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