ShermansTravel » Blog » Amenity Watch
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t keep an eye out for freebies on a Disney vacation. They just make the whole trip a lot more, well, magical. We already gathered some tips for what you can nab gratis, like pins, birthday cards, and more. But when we recently sailed aboard Disney Cruise Line, we discovered even more opportunities for more free goodies on the ships. Here’s what you can find and where:
In Colombia, the Andes Mountains just north of Medellin rise to create the perfect conditions for growing some of the world’s best coffee. How good is that java, exactly? So good that UNESCO inscribed an enormous coffee growing area in the region as the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia in 2011.
So it’s no surprise that, today, Colombia’s coffee country is a well-known tourist destination for travelers attracted to sweeping landscapes and the opportunity to learn more about the production of coffee. And until recently, hotel options — though plentiful in number — were quite limited in diversity. They’ve fallen in two general categories: brightly painted traditional wood farmhouses that happily benefit from the addition of plumbing and electricity, or feeble attempts at three- and four-star hotels that appeal primarily to Colombian families.
That all changed on December 22 of 2014, when the intimate Hacienda Buenavista opened its doors.
When setting a budget for a trip, it’s not just about scoring a good deal on a hotel or on a flight. There are also those three meals a day you’ve got to buy — and they can add up quickly. That’s why we were happy to see Four Points by Sheraton‘s $1 breakfast promotion, available now until the end of March.
In the era of Airbnb, travelers have gotten comfortable with the idea of choosing between a full-service hotel and the extra perks of a home rental — like kitchen access, lounge areas, and interaction with locals. It’s not a particularly surprising (or, at this point, new) development. We want more immersion, more culture, and a taste of what it’s like to actually live in the destinations that we visit. Hotel brands, however, have been taking note; in fact, more and more are starting to manage their very own vacation rentals, so that guests don’t have to choose between the comforts of home and the comforts of the hotel at all.
When I started cruising back in the early 1990s, after-dinner cabaret shows and piano players dominated the onboard lounges. Besides trying my luck in the casino, there wasn’t much else to do.
But advancing in recent years by leaps and bounds, entertainment at sea now provides vacationers with an astounding variety of options, many of them interactive. Take, for example, my recent weeklong sail from Fort Lauderdale to the Eastern Caribbean on Holland America’s 1,916-passenger Westerdam.
Yes, lodging in Istanbul is incredibly inexpensive in the winter, with plenty of hotels offering rates under $100. But if you’re willing to make a small splurge in low season, you’ll enjoy luxury that’s leaps ahead of what your dollars will get you elsewhere.
All-inclusive resorts take the effort out of vacationing—you pay upfront, you don’t have to make an itinerary, and you have access to great food and entertainment onsite. But, all-inclusive resorts have a few other advantages over the traditional resort experience. Here are five things that might surprise you about all-inclusive resorts.
Each year, countless Americans make the New Year’s resolution to work on their wellness and get healthier. We’ve already told you about the ways you can stay healthy on vacation, but for those who’d like to incorporate a healthier lifestyle right down to their hotel stay, check into one of these wellness-and-fitness-focused rooms to maintain that resolution.
New York City’s JFK Airport just received a major upgrade — for some travelers flying Air France, anyway. The airline’s new lounge, fully renovated in Terminal 1, is reserved for customers flying in first and business classes as well as for Flying Blue Elite Plus members. And it’s arguably one of the chicest ways to relax and unwind prior to takeoff these days. Here’s what we love.
The Midwest’s newest luxury hotel is now open: The Edgewater, in downtown Madison, Wisconsin, along Lake Mendota and a few blocks to hip State Street (lined with shops selling eclectic holiday gifts), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Fresh off a $100 million renovation, practically everything at the hotel is brand-new, including a destination spa, four restaurants, and an ice rink.
Flying business class on the world’s top-rated long-haul airlines (think Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad…) isn’t exactly an inexpensive proposition. Round-trip flights on any of these airlines to their respective home airports in Asia can run you more than $8,000. An economy-class ticket on these same flights can run you between $1000, with a good sale, to $1500 — significantly less. So why the markup?
The answer isn’t so cut-and-dry. You can’t just add up the cost of the extra amenities offered in business class and come up with a concrete value comparison. For example, what’s the exact dollar value difference of flying in a basic economy class seat versus a business class, lie-flat bed? Is it $300? Perhaps $400? Exactly how much is your comfort worth?
I recently had the somewhat outrageous opportunity to fly halfway around the world — and almost immediately back — in order to assess the value of comfort in flight. Qatar Airways, one of Star Trax’s 5-star-rated airlines, hosted me on a trip that lasted just 33 hours: 13 in the air in each direction between New York and Doha, Qatar, plus seven in the Doha airport.
If this sounds ridiculous… well, it was. But the airline’s point was clear: Even the most seemingly uncomfortable travel circumstances can be made entirely, lavishly comfortable with a (simple?) upgrade. As for what it’s all worth? Here’s an attempt at a breakdown.
Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.
Captain’s Manor Inn isn’t a full-fledged hotel, but the label “bed and breakfast” hardly seems to do it justice. Don’t get us wrong — we’re huge fans of B&Bs, so we don’t mean it derisively by any means. The intimacy and character of an independent inn, after all, is something that big hotel chains are actually trying to emulate. But when’s the last time you stayed at a bed and breakfast with a dedicated housekeeping staff, with a regular afternoon tea hour in its “bistro” and rain showers in guest bathrooms?
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