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As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring — who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?
Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it’s the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here’s how it works, and how you can join.
Taking a vacation in Jamaica doesn’t necessarily mean napping in the sun for a week. Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more vacations that include fitness classes, adventure treks, dance lessons, and other kinds of physical activity. For a week of soothing, and highly focused fitness, check out this beautiful yoga retreat that we recently discovered.
When it comes to island vacations, the fun begins before you even get to your hotel, or to the island itself: first, you have to cross the water that surrounds it. The hour-long drive to South Seas Island Resort over the Sanibel Causeway is a picturesque introduction to what’s to come: exotic birds, other-worldly plant life, and dramatic sky.
The Ozark mountain range is so vast that it not only covers the southern half of Missouri, it also extends to Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. And even though it’s referred to as mountains, the area is actually a plateau. Covering 47,000 square miles, the rugged Ozarks are filled with forests, and hiking trails, and beautiful views. Here are some ideas for exploring:
The latest news from budget-friendly airline JetBlue is that they are beginning service to a new destination this winter. Starting December 2, the airline will fly from New York City to the Caribbean island of Curaçao twice a week, operating one round-trip flight each Tuesday and Saturday, making it the only airline to offer a direct service between New York and Curaçao. This opens up more appealing flight options, flights with Avianca take over 10 hours and require a stop in Bogota, while flights with American Airlines take more than seven hours with a layover in Miami, as well as more attractive fares, December flights with Avianca and American cost $653 and $689, respectively, while you can fly round-trip with JetBlue for less than $400. Read more
Volcanoes and tropical rainforests are all well and good, but to get a taste of Costa Rican culture at its core, head into the countryside. That is, after all, where fiestas and horse parades came to fame. It’s where the only “traffic” might come from a feisty cow that’s strayed from its cattle, with a sabanero (cowboy) hot at its heels — where horseback actually is a popular mode of transportation, and where any local can howl exactly like the ubiquitous monkey clans that rove the trees.
If this sounds like a far-reaching haven, don’t worry. Along the northern Pacific Coast, Guanacaste is easily accessible via Daniel Oduber International Airport in Liberia, serviced by 12 airlines from North America. (JetBlue, for one, flies direct from New York JFK from less than $400 roundtrip.) For an affordably pampering home base, check into JW Marriott Guanacaste. With its spacious rooms and tropical hacienda look — not to mention palatable off-season rates right now — it’s a fine extension of the laid-back, grounded spirit of the region.
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
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:
By Jackie Strause for Yahoo! Travel
“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign (Photo: Thinkstock)
Hey, high rollers, big spenders, and “Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” shouters: We’ve got some suites for you.
When it comes to Las Vegas, a suite is more than just a suite: It’s a villa, a penthouse, a bungalow — sometimes (ahem, Bellagio) it’s an estate.
We’re not kidding! For the best of the best, you can enjoy in-room elevators, 24-hour butler service, glass-enclosed lap pools and Jacuzzi hot tubs, movie theaters, full spa and salon services, fireplaces, rain showers, terraces with plunge pools, and courtyard gardens without ever leaving your “room.”
So cash in your chips and get ready to cash out with one of these 15 überluxurious dream pads. It’s no gamble: You’re sure to feel like you’ve died and gone to Sin City once you do.
Southwest Airlines have been a major player in the U.S. market over the past few decades, but today it takes its first step into the big, wide world. As of July 1, Southwest has begun service to Aruba and Montego Bay, Jamaica, from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. In the coming months flights to the Bahamas, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic from other gateways will follow.
The 27-acre Sunset Key is privately held by residents lucky enough to own multi-million dollar homes there, but the rest of us can get a taste, even if just for a few hours. There are only three ways you can board the free shuttle boat to the island from Key West (from the marina in front of the Westin Key West Resort). You can spend the night at one of the Westin’s Sunset Key cottages, have a reservation at their restaurant, or book a service at their spa. Read more
Some travelers might head out on an African safari to encounter exotic species or sail up a fjord in Norway for the dramatic scenery. But just two and a half hours by plane from Miami and not quite four from NYC, Puerto Rico contains a whole hidden world of natural wonders that satisfy both instincts. Here are six unforgettable experiences that you don’t have to go far for or spend a lot on — flights can be had for under $200-$300 round-trip, depending on your departure city.
Miami might be steamy right now but, with this bumper list of new hotels, now is the time to enjoy off-season and introductory rates at the newly opened properties– or to start planning a trip around those that will be opening later this year and next.
Sure, most travelers book a trip to Miami Beach with a single plan in mind — drink all day, party all night. But everyone needs to cool off and chill out at some point. Even Miami, which we rate as one of the world’s party capitals, has plenty of options for relaxing, refreshing, and (maybe) replenishing your body in preparation for another night out. Here’s how:
Relaxation takes form in all shapes and sizes. To some, an afternoon coffee with a pastry eases away the tension better than a full-body massage. To others, being pricked in the back with dozens of needles does the trick. From skin-eating fish to dives into icy lakes, here are some of the varied techniques you can seek out on your next travels.
Japan: Sake Bath
First practiced by Japanese geishas to decrease the appearance of age and skin spots, thousands of Japanese men and women continue to experience the healing effects of the rice wine’s kojic acids, which smooth and hydrate the skin. Sake also contains a healthy mix of ginger and pine extracts that’s proven to relax muscles (or is that just the alcohol talking?) and help breathing. Japan’s Yunessun Spa Resort, 50 miles southwest of Tokyo, invites guests to soak in their giant pool of sake — or try their red wine, coffee, or green tea baths — for an all-inclusive entry fee of ¥2,800 ($28).
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