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Boring Chains Go Boutique: The Hotel Brands You Should Know Now

July 30, 2014 by

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Stylish travelers, rejoice! Boring chains are going boutique.

In decades past, names like Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and Wyndham were the business travel stalwarts that were always reliable and comfortable–but nothing to write home about. That’s not enough for today’s travelers, whether leisure or business. These days, we seek something different, something unique to the place we’ve made the effort to visit. And the formerly cookie cutter giants have responded, looking to independent hotels for style and to local vendors for destination-specific amenities.

Which brings us to a new conundrum. A boatload of new portfolios have surfaced in the past few years, to the point where it’s become highly confusing. You’ve probably heard of the Autograph collection, or Aloft Hotels, or Even Hotels — but who in the world is who? To clear things up a bit, here’s a handy guide of the most notable brands to know now.

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Solo Cruising: New Savings, Socializing, and More

July 29, 2014 by

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Cruise lines are reaching out to solo travelers like never before, with offerings like studio staterooms designed for one person, policies that lower or waive single supplement fees, and onboard meet-and-greets that facilitate new friendships. Here, the guide to solo cruising that our readers have been asking for:

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Cheapflights’ Airport Affordability Index Recommends Thinking Small

July 29, 2014 by

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You may have already figured out that flying in and out of smaller airports is often more affordable than traveling between major city airports, but have you ever looked for a clearer picture of how local airports stack up? Read more

Checklist: How to Take Advantage of Limited-Time Deals

July 28, 2014 by

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Here at ShermansTravel, we’re always encouraging readers to take advantage of limited-time sales and last-minute deals — after all, alongside planning way in advance or looking to shoulder season, it’s one of the best ways to nab great discounts for travel. But the reality is that the best offers often require you to act fast, whether it’s a flash sale for travel five months down the road or for a cruise that departs in the next week. And more often than not, the pressure to book quickly can become overwhelming, and we find ourselves simply passing up the deal in the end.

But it can be possible to strike the iron while it’s hot — so long as you’ve already done a bit of simple planning. Having recently booked fantastically low fares to Istanbul during a three-day sale ourselves ($535 round-trip in the beginning of November), we wanted to share our checklist for what to think about beforehand. We hope that by working through these questions, you’ll be prepared to hit the Book button and save big when the next deal rolls around. Read more

Deal Alert: Fly R/T to Europe’s Azorean Islands for $499

July 28, 2014 by

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SATA Airlines and its parent group have been bringing travelers to the volcanic Azorean Islands, just off of Portugal, for nearly 70 years. Looking ahead to winter, the airline is now offering a special rate for round-trip flights between Boston and Sao Miguel — where travelers can enjoy thermal baths, pineapple greenhouse visits, whale watching, and a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration with live music and fireworks by the harbor. Now through this Thursday, July 31, travelers can nab tickets for as low as $499 round-trip, for the itinerary departing December 30 and returning January 6, 2015*.

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Deal Alert: The Frank Lloyd Wright Experience in Arizona

July 28, 2014 by

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One of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous Arizona works, Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium in Tempe, AZ, turns 50 this year. The building has an interesting history, initially commissioned by the assassinated King Feisal II of Iraq and then eventually revived as a university building, finally opening in 1964. To celebrate its birthday and the prestigious guests it has received — from traveling Broadway productions to George W. Bush and John Kerry during the 2004 presidential debates – the performing arts center has partnered with two other iconic Wright destinations to offer the “Frank Lloyd Wright Experience,” with hotel and entertainment discounts this week.

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How To: Rent a Private Island for Your Next Vacation

July 28, 2014 by

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“Cheap” and “private island.” There’s no way those two words go together, right? Only billionaire investors and Brad Pitt vacation on their own exotic paradise.

To be the bearer of great news, we’re happy to share that, actually, you can possibly afford a wee vacation on your very own island — no crowded resorts or overpriced mojitos.

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Food and Fun, Not Gambling, Makes Atlantic City A Shore Thing

July 25, 2014 by

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Atlantic City has long been popular with visitors looking to try their luck at the casinos. But a couple of years ago, hotels like Revel started the non-gaming trend, when it brought Beyoncé in and set a new tone to the gambling destination. Suddenly there were more bars, nightclubs, restaurants by famous chefs, and even an outlet mall. Unfortunately, almost just as quickly as it opened, Revel and two other casinos are facing closure by this summer’s end. The Atlantic Club has already shut its doors, and the Trump Plaza and Showboat are next on the chopping block if a windfall doesn’t come.

Luckily, the fate of Atlantic City doesn’t have to depend on its casinos, and it remains affordable for those who know where to look. Here are your options for both accommodations and entertainment:  Read more

Deal Alert: Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas

July 25, 2014 by

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Your very own plunge pool. A dedicated butler. This kind of beach resort experience must cost an arm and a leg, right?

Not so at Capella Pedregal — at least not if you’re able to take an end-of-summer trip to Cabo San Lucas in the next two months. Now through September 24, an Unforgettable Summer promotion makes rooms at this five-year-old Mexico palace, typically starting at $990, actually within reach. The halved $475 rate isn’t a cheap getaway by any means, but it’s worth the splurge considering all the amenities and perks. As we’ve mentioned, each room has its own private, infinity edge plunge pool, not to mention daily guacamole, chips, and two beers delivered in the afternoons. There’s also a refreshment center constantly stocked with complimentary sodas, juices, and bottled water. Aside from butler service, every guest is treated to WiFi throughout the resort — yes, even in the three giant pools overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Read more

5 Great Places to Stuff Your Face in Istanbul

July 25, 2014 by

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With culinary influences extending from Central Asia clear through the Caucasus to the Mediterranean, the food in Turkey is justifiably world-famous. At the heart of the Sultanahmet district in Istanbul, however, you’re much more likely to find overpriced and under-spiced versions of Turkish favorites than anything else. For a more authentic and delicious experience, head a bit further afield to some of our favorite spots in town: Read more

10 Weird Ice Cream Flavors and Where to Find Them

July 25, 2014 by

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We may have missed National Ice Cream Day (it was on July 20), but National Ice Cream Month continues. Why not celebrate with a couple of scoops of something more adventurous than vanilla? Read more

Quiz: Which Hawaiian Island is For You?

July 24, 2014 by

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Beaches and forests. Hiking and surfing. Volcanoes and luaus. These are some of the delights found all over Hawaii.

But each island is a little different, each famous for its own flavor. Kauai treats visitors to lush landscapes and secluded peace, for example — whereas Oahu is perfect for cramming culture and dining and shopping all in one. To discover which island is best suited to your travel style and interests, take our newest quiz. (Note: You must like ShermansTravel on Facebook in order to see your results.)

5 River Cruise Basics You Should Know

July 24, 2014 by

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Tens of thousands of vacationers have embraced the idea of meandering along a river in ships that carry 200 people — or less — rather than dealing with crowds aboard the mega-cruise ships that accommodate thousands. The cozier atmosphere  of river cruises originally attracted an older clientele looking for leisurely cruises that deliver them closer to historic city centers, serve traditional regional cuisines and locally produced wines, and provide small group excursions. But this mode of travel has grown more mainstream in recent years beyond the niche market it had begun in.

Need proof of river cruising’s popularity? Just take a look at the numbers — the demand for river cruising has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. Viking River Cruises alone added 18 ships in Europe last year and in 2015 will debut another dozen, bringing its fleet to 64 vessels. Other lines such as AMA Waterways, Uniworld, and Avalon Waterways are adding to their fleets as well, albeit at a slower pace. River cruising has also been spreading quickly in Asia and is also amping up in the States.

Whether you’ve already booked your cabins or are still contemplating a future trip, here are five river cruise basics you might not know, but should:

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5 Expected and Unexpected Ways to Unwind in St. Kitts

July 24, 2014 by

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A small, emerging destination in the Caribbean, St. Kitts still truly runs on island time. The moment you land on this breezy West Indies gem, you’ll want to adjust your pace and embrace the slow, peaceful way of life. To help you acclimate, here are five expected and unexpected places to truly unwind on St. Kitts:

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Kimpton’s New Loyalty Program Offers Perks Over Points

July 24, 2014 by

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InTouch, the already rewarding loyalty program from the Kimpton boutique hotel chain, has just evolved into a new Kimpton Karma Rewards program that rewards travelers for more than just staying at their hotels. Read more

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