January 8, 2010

Travel Trends for 2010: Hotel Managers Take Notice

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

hotel newsSince the new year just started, it’s time to look at what the future holds for the travel business, in general, and the hotel industry, in particular. Two really interesting articles on this subject (you can find them here and here ) drew our attention and we’ve decided to sum up the 2010 travel trends for our readers.

European beach destinations already losing market share

Beach holidays are among the best sold vacations, whether we talk about European travelers or foreigners coming to Europe. While both in 2008 and 2009 the market performed quite well, the holidaymakers’ preferences towards the traditional markets – France, Spain and Greece – have shifted. Recently, markets such as North Africa (Morocco) and Eastern Mediterranean and even far beyond (Bulgaria) are starting to gain market share at the expense of the traditional markets.

Travelers are loyal

Since the travel budget is getting tighter and tighter, the travelers are playing it safe. That means they will choose destinations, airlines and hotels they are familiar with. Even in 2009 we’ve already seen more guests returning to the places they’ve already stayed. The brands are those which really benefit from this. If a traveler is pleased with a certain hotel chain, they’ll definitely be looking for them when planning a visit in a new city. Plus, savvy travelers know that they should expect some things in return for their loyalty. Just like airlines offer frequent flyer programs, hotel chains have found numerous ways to keep the customers returning to their hotels.

Always connected

Today’s travelers carry loads of electronic equipment with them, making sure they stay connected and are able to not only stay in touch with the families but also plan their next move when it comes to booking a hotel or a flight. Hotel operators should know that they need to keep up with the demand. It’s both about making sure they are visible online but also about providing guests the use of technology. Free wi-fi is seen as a must and travelers avoid hotels which charge fees for the use of internet.

With the increased popularity of Twitter, Facebook and hotel rating sites, hotels operators should know the power of social media and how easily bad reviews can ruin a hotel’s reputation.

Luxury is still appreciated…but in smaller doses

Travelers will always seek to have a good experience in the hotel they are staying. All of us are looking for upgrades and “quick fixes” and “trading” in order to get better services. But we are also looking to get value for money. Small luxury free-bees like a short massage at the spa included in the room price is enough to grab some undecided customers.

Domestic travel is here to stay

With the economic trends still looking “blurry” for the next year, travelers will not forget about “staycations”. While it doesn’t mean they just crash on the coach during their days off, it certainly means that they will travel within their home country. And of course, they will be looking for cheap accommodation and decent services.

Free breakfast equals more travelers staying in the hotel

Often when we see the price of breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant we just prefer to go to the nearest café and grab something to eat. And statistics prove us right since only 65% of hotel guests regularly have breakfast every time they stay at a hotel.

The trick is to offer free breakfast and come up with a lot of menu choices for (most) dietary requirements. Chances are not many of your guests want bacon and eggs each and every day.

Women-only hotels?

Yes, one opened in Saudi Arabia in 2007 and is successful. But that doesn’t mean hotel managers should ban men from their places. Instead, they should focus more on the women travelers – whether they travel for business or pleasure. Offering a safe environment for the lone female travelers is the best approach.

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January 7, 2010

Indoor Activities are Fun in Philadelphia This February

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

Philadelphia mainPhiladelphia is a city any lover of American history should visit. It’s also a great destination for those looking for a family vacation or those looking for the modern attractions of the city. The climate of the city is humid continental with cold and often snowy winters. During the colder months, the temperatures hover around freezing.

Planning the budget

For the majority of travelers, when they plan a family vacation , they only think about going to theme parks or to a beach resort. But visiting historical sites and important cities for the American history can be an excellent way to teach the children history in a fun way.

If it’s impossible to find a vacation package to suit your plans, then you can always book the flight and the hotel separately. Flights to Philadelphia are not hard to find as the airport serving the city is a major hub for US Airways. So you should start the search on their website, especially if you are looking for deals. Typically, late winter flights are cheap but you need to take into account the possibility of bad weather and delays.

Cheap hotels in Philadelphia are plentiful but you should be careful to choose a hotel located close to Central Philadelphia or close to the public transportation. Otherwise, you should look into renting a car for the time you spend here.

Things to do in Philadelphia in February

The cold weather keeps both the locals and tourists focus on indoor activities. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be bored while staying here.

Those who know how to sing, can win $1000 each Tuesday Day. There’s a karaoke contest at the Triumph Brewery (in the Old City) which anyone can be part of. It’s a fun way to spend a night out and if you are talented you might be the lucky winner. And that’s not the only place in town where you can sing!

Philadelphia Museum of Art hosts a lot of interesting exhibitions which will definitely appeal to both adults and children. The Montiers of Philadelphia and The Horse and Man Armors are ongoing exhibitions while several others are open through the year.

America’s oldest outdoor market, the 9th Street Italian Market, is open even during the cold season. Pack your camera and enjoy the sites. You are more than welcome to try the fresh produce as well.

The Body Worlds Exhibit at the Franklin Institute is a very interesting experience for both adults and children. During the day, the ticket ($27 adults and $19.80 children includes the general admission to The Franklin Institute) while the evening ticket includes only the exhibit admission.

Where to stay

There are plenty of places to stay in Philadelphia, catering for all budgets. It’s important to look for a place located close to the sites you want to visit or close to the public transport. Otherwise, consider renting a car.

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Old City in downtown. The hostel offers free coffee and tea all day, free wireless internet, free bed linen and free billiards table. There’s a large lounge and a common kitchen guests can use. The hostel offers both private rooms (which are not listed on the online booking websites) and dorms. In early February, bed rates (in dorms) start at $30.50 per night.

Days Inn & Suites is located 2 miles from Walt Bridge, 5 miles away from Historic Philadelphia. It offers free breakfast, free internet in all rooms, free access to fitness room and free parking. All rooms have microwave and fridge. In early February, the rates for a standard double room start at $48.95 per person per night.

Econolodge Philadelphia Airport offers free airport transport, free parking and free continental breakfast. The airport is just 3 miles away. The lodge comprises 89 guestrooms, with free internet, and cable TV. All rooms have AC and Coffee/tea maker. In early February, the room rates for a private double room ensuite start at $43.45 per person per night.

Quality Inn – Philadelphia is located outside the city. There’s free wi-fi available. All rooms have AC, coffee maker, microwave and fridge. In early February, the room rates for a private double room ensuite start at $33 per person per night.

HI – Chamounix Mansion is located in the heart of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. It offers a welcoming front porch and two communal rooms. It’s a nice location for those planning for an active holiday. Travelers can use the free bikes to explore Fairmount Park and play tennis nearby. In early February, the bed rates (in dorms) start at $23 per night.

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January 6, 2010

Valentine’s Day in Prague: from €63

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

heartThere isn’t much time left until Valentine’s Day and we could bet you are looking to impress that special person in your life. And we also know that the budget is probably a problem. So, here is an idea for you. Valentine’s Day in Prague: from €63 per night.

Sure, when you think romance and Europe, you immediately think about Paris, which is not a bad idea. But room rates start at €95 per night and if you are looking for something more affordable, we are sorry to say, but Paris is not the answer (unless you want to take your loved one to a hostel. No? We thought so).

Back to Prague then. The hotel is located in a reconstructed residential building, listed today on the UNESCO Heritage List. It is very close to the Wenceslas Square, the heart of Prague. Each room has private bathroom, radio, phone, AC, TV, mini-bar and internet access. The rates include breakfast. For the Valentine’s weekend (Feb 13-15) you’ll pay €178 for the two of you. Remember that you also need to book the flight as well. If you are in Europe, look for low-cost companies which fly into Prague (and there are plenty).

Winter Resorts in Eastern Europe: Affordable, Fun and Romantic

During the turbulent economic times and when our budgets are low, we often consider travel markets which were left behind thanks to traditional destination being so popular. In this case, we are talking about Eastern Europe. Romania to be exact. The country of Dracula is also the country of stunning mountains and lovely mountain resorts. Many couples consider going for Valentine’s Day to one of the resorts – sssshhhh, I’ll tell you a secret, we are also about to book a stay – and there are quite a lot to choose from.

Sinaia, the small mountain town and resort where you’ll find Peles Castle, is a charming destination if you prefer a more laid back atmosphere slightly away from the slopes. Room rates (doubles) are general around €20 per night. You can find online quite a lot of such affordable villas.

Busteni is right in the center of action and there are many villas which stand close to the slopes. Room rates also start at €20 per night but typically they are slightly higher. Most double rooms in villas here cost €25 per night. Not all have private bathrooms and you should ask about that when you make the reservation.

As for getting to this area, the easiest way is to get on a flight to Bucharest and then take the train to the resorts. During the weekdays the Romanian National Railways (CFR) offer 25% discount to all travelers (until February 28) on the “Snow Trains” (Trenurile Zapezii). A return ticket to Busteni costs €15 per person (on one of high rank trains).

link gacor

January 5, 2010

Shopping and Fashion in Paris in January

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

Paris mainAh! Paris… the beautiful European city which conjures images of lovers walking hand in hand and kissing. Paris is one of those cities which should be visited at least once in a life time. It offers everything you might thing of: from incredible museums, to romantic places, excellent cuisine and beautiful scenery.

What can be said about Paris without writing an entire book? We can start with the highlights, hoping that during your first visit you’ll manage to explore at least some of them. Eiffel Tower is , without a doubt, the icon of Paris. When you see a postcard of the tower, you know it’s taken in Paris! The majestic Notre Dame Cathedral, overly crowded Arc de Triomphe, quiet Sacré Coeur and impressive Chateau de Versailles are only some of the places which will amaze you once you get to visit them.

Paris is bustling no matter when you visit. In July and August, half of the locals head to the Alps or the South of France but fear not, the city is filled with the noisy tourists stumbling to visit as much as they can. Paris is so popular that there aren’t “low” and “high” seasons, just months when it’s possible to visit a place without waiting for ages to get inside. Price wise Paris is either abnormally expensive or …just expensive. In other words, rack up some money before you plant to come here.

Planning the budget and trying not to break a bank in the process

The peak season is summer, but don’t be fooled to think that summer represents only July and August. By early May tourists poor in and the prices, gradually go up. Best time to visit Paris? When the rest aren’t considering: January or October-November. February is also nice but avoid St. Valentine’s Day as the “city of lovers” gets swamped with those looking for a romantic vacation.

European vacation packages come in handy year round and they focus on different things: from romantic packages in February, to shopping sprees in the winter and everything else you can think of. Many of them focus on Paris, so chances are you’ll find something to suit your plans and budget.

However, if you want flexibility and plan to find a budget hotel or hostel for your stay, it’s better to plan things on your own. January is a slower month in Paris and it’s easy to find something which is not extraordinary expensive.

Being served by large airports, Paris doesn’t lack connections with the entire world. Flights to Paris are easily available but make sure to book slightly in advance if you want to save money. Many large carriers, including Air France, have quite a lot of good offers during the slower periods.

As for hotels in Paris , you are bound to get a headache when you look for prices. Of course, the closer to the attractions, the higher the prices and we bet you don’t want to stay near the airport, right? Occasionally, there are some hot deals available but you need to be quick and keep your eyes on the websites often. There are plenty of neighborhoods where you can stay but remember that you’ll be using the public transport quite a lot (which is a good thing since you won’t have too many headaches).

Things to do in Paris in January

paris shoppingThe main “event” in January (and February) in Paris is… shopping. The shopping sales attract tourists from all over the world (and especially Europe). With a lot of luck and many hours spent in the stores you can easily come home with a new wardrobe for a decent price (so pack very light and allow for extra baggage on the way back home). Fashion shows are also part of the January (and February) social scene.

Concerts are always happening in Paris so January is not an exception. On January 19 and 20, Depeche Mode sing at Palais Omnisport de Bercy. You can also listen to the legendary Patricia Kaas at Casino de Paris on several January nights (8, 9 and 10).

Where to stay

Here’s a quick tip for you: private rooms in hostels are cheaper and offer enough intimacy to enjoy a vacation with your loved one. And if you decide to stay in a hostel, there are quite a lot of chances to find something affordable right in the heart of Paris.

3 Ducks Hostel is open year round and is located close to the Eiffel Tower. There’s a kitchen the guests can use. Linen is not included in the price. Breakfast is free and so is wi-fi. In January, bed prices start at $25.87 per night.

Lucky Youth offers apartments for rent at the price of hostel dorms. You’ve got a kitchen, TV and internet and share the apartment with a maximum of 8 persons. Linen and towel are included in the price. In January, rates start at $24.43 per person per night.

Grand Hotel Magenta is located close to the Montmartre area. It offers 30 rooms all with TV and phone. Some rooms have private bathrooms. Breakfast is free. In January, rates start at $34.43 per person per night.

Agil Hotel Paris Orly is located in a quiet residential area south of Paris (15 km) and is ideal if you plan to rent a car for your visit. It offers free wi-fi and car parking. There are 32 rooms all with bathrooms, TV and phone. In January, rates start at $21.51 per person per night.

Hotel du Parc Saint Charles is a small, charming hotel offering only 15 rooms. It’s also costlier than the rest of our choices but it’s great if you plan a romantic escape. It’s located close to Porte de Versailles. All rooms have AC. In January, rates start at $134 per person per night.

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January 4, 2010

Orlando is a Lovely Place to Visit in January

Filed under: Uncategorized — cristina @ 1:00 am

orlando mainWhen someone is planning a vacation in Orlando, they typically have only one thing in mind: Disney World! But Orlando is not all about Disney – plus, Disney World is actually located in near-by Lake Buena Vista. Other things to do here include: spending time in the gardens and parks, visiting museums, golfing or just spending time in Downtown Orlando.

There are two peak travel times in Orlando: March and April and from June to August. The majority of tourists though come during summer so that’s when the prices are at their highest and you are guaranteed to bump into large crowds. Winter weather sees temperatures of 70s during the day and 50s during the night but cold fronts are possible and temperatures usually drop quite a bit after those. Still, Orlando is a year-round travel destination and if you plan to visit during the low season, you will save quite a lot of money.

Planning the budget

Orlando vacation packages are good choices both during the low season – when hotels offer discounts to lure tourists – and during the high season – when everyone is looking for some additional services offered for free.

There’s also the possibility to create your own package, by booking the flight and accommodation separately. Flights to Orlando are easy to find regardless of when you plan to travel but during the high season, make sure to book in advance. Typically two to eight weeks before you plan to leave is a good period to look for flights.

As for cheap hotels in Orlando , make sure you have quite a bit of patience while you search for them. There are quite a lot of hotels close to both the airport and Disney World and most of them offer shuttles to the theme parks.

Things to do in January in Orlando

orlando marathonBeing a travel destination year-round, Orlando doesn’t lack events and festivals in January. It’s a great idea to rent a car if you want to have the freedom to check out the festivals and events in the near-by places.

Walt Disney World Marathon is scheduled for January 7 through January 10 and attracts thousands of runners and supporters each year. If you haven’t trained for a marathon or semi-marathon, then you can sing up for the Disney/Pixar UP & Away Family Fun Run 5K.

Sunshine Regional Chili Cook-Off takes place in the middle of January at the Kissimmee Lakefront Park. Aside from the many food stands, the event also includes live music, arts and crafts. Admission is free.

From January 23 through 31, 2010 head to near-by Eatonville for the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities. The event includes speaker events, a screenwriting competition and educational programs.

On January 23 and 24, the Blue Spring Manatee Festival takes places at Valentine Park, in Orange City. The event includes live entertainment, great food, arts and crafts exhibits and carnival-style rides.

Where to stay

It really doesn’t mater if you come to Orlando for the theme parks, events or just for the atmosphere because you will need a place to stay regardless of what you are up to. Since there are a lot of hotels to choose from, it’s quite hard to take a decision, so here are some places to get you started.

Extended Stay Deluxe Orlando-Universal Studios : is an excellent choice if you plan a longer holiday. The suites are equipped with refrigerator, microwave, and stovetop. There’s a one-time $4.99 fee for the wireless internet. The guests can use the swimming pool and the fitness center. Continental breakfast is free. In January, the rates for a studio suite start at $49.95 per night.

Monumental Hotel Orlando : is located close to Seaworld and Aquatica, as well as shopping and dining. The guests can use the outdoor pool. All rooms have AC and coffee makers. In January, rates start at $62.10 per night for a standard double room.

Baymont Inn & Suites Florida Mall/Orlando : is located 3 blocks from Florida Mall and quite close to the theme parks. Breakfast and wi-fi are free. Guests can use the pool and the gym. In January, room rates start at $42 per night for a 1 king bed room.

Radisson Hotel Orlando-Lake Buena Vista : is located just a quarter mile from Disney World. Guests can use the pool and the fitness center. In January, the special deals rates start at $79.80 per night for a room, while the standard rates start at $104 for a double room with breakfast included.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando International Drive : is located close to all the attractions in Orlando. The hotel offers free wi-fi. In January, the standard room rates start at $95 per night.

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