Shermanstravel Blog

Amenity Watch

Deal Alert: $1 Breakfast at Four Points Hotels

Flickr/Ralph Daily

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.

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Cozy Up! 5 Romantic Winter Getaways in New England

facebook.com/GraceHotelsGroup

The charms of historic New England make the perfect backdrop for a romantic weekend getaway. Just in time for the most romantic month of the year, seek out comfort and luxury await at inns along the coast, going out of their way to surprise and delight their guests. Whether you want to spend $175 or $600, let warm fireplaces and soothing bottles of wine cure your winter blues at these five cozy retreats.

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bemate hotels with vacation home rentals

Be Mate

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.

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what's new entertainment on cruise ships - holland america line - dancing with the stars

Vladimir Ramljak/Holland America Line

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.

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620 - raffles istanbul - room

Raffles Istanbul

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.

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Courtesy of Barcelo Bávaro Beach Resort

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.

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MGM Grand Hotel and Casino amenities for fitness

MGM Grand Hotel and Casino

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.

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Hotel-Element-Frankfurt---Hotel-Frankfurt-Airport--Superior-Studio
This month, Starwood’s newest brand, Element, officially opened its first non-U.S. location in Frankfurt. Here’s a peek inside the green-oriented chain. Read more

AirFrance_011

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.

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The Edgewater Bill Fritsch Wisconsin

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.

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Qatar Airways Business Class

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.

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CanopyPortlandLobbyImage_HR

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.

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Exterior

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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aceLondon

In these days of AirBnB and Couchsurfing, travel that highlights the local experience is becoming more attractive. Traditional travel companies need to compete; this is how some hotels are doing just that.

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red mountain resort lodge utah

They say idleness is the mother of all vices – so it’s a good thing we had so much to keep us busy during a recent jaunt through rural southern Utah. Heading for St. George, a small, oft-overlooked town in the state’s bottom-left quarter that’s just under two hours from Vegas, we packed in a full three days of hiking, kayaking, outdoor yoga, and even a little art gallery browsing. And the best part: We even had time left over for some poolside lounging. Here’s how you can do it, too:

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