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With the Millennial generation growing up, the travel industry is beginning to see a gap in the market for sophisticated young travelers on a budget. Budget-chic brands such as CitizenM and Marriott’s Moxy, which offer high design and low price points, are booming, while budget brands such as Radisson are undergoing a design-focused overhaul. The result is that the high-end experience is being redefined: luxurious is no longer synonymous with expensive. That’s good news for travelers of all generations; gone are the days when a low budget meant bland and basic accommodations - as the following worldwide hotels prove.
New York City: Playland Motel
Located way out in Rockaway Beach in Queens, the Playland Motel, which opened in summer 2013, restored a 19th -century building and engaged 12 artists and designers to curate each of the guest rooms. Each season, artists and designers will update the rooms’ designs according to their own aesthetic. Rooms currently available to book include Kate Pane’s Coconut Castle room, which the artist describes as “a hot and heavy girlhood frolic with glitter sunburns, ponies and wet swimsuits.”
The Playland Motel is also home to a popular bar, diner, and pizzeria. The scene is young and the music loud. Rooms (with shared bathrooms) go for around $160 a night.
Forget about the subway – with all the new innovations showing up in taxis lately, we’re sticking with getting around cities the old-fashioned, four-wheel way. And we’re not talking about things like e-hailing taxi apps, which we covered already in a post last month. No, this time we’re looking at new ways to pay fares, cabs with free Wifi, and eco-friendly electric taxis. Find out which cities are ahead of the pack, below! Read more
Is the summer heat getting to you yet? There’s relief to be found at one of these public pools in Europe. Whether it’s panoramic views of the Mediterranean, or a 295-foot-high bungee jump you’re after, these 10 municipal water parks are guaranteed to add a little excitement to your summer getaway.
1. Lava Pools, Madeira, Portugal
Naturally-occurring volcanic rock has formed a series of tiny, stunningly beautiful pools on the northwestern coast of Madeira in Portugal. These ocean-filled ‘lava pools’ are the main attraction in the village of Porto Moniz, located about an hour north of Madeira’s capital, Funchal. Despite the wild geography, the area around the pools contains tourist-friendly amenities like changing rooms, lockers, showers, a restaurant, and a team of lifeguards. Entrance fee: $2.60. Read more
If you’re looking to take an exotic vacation this season, we’ve got deals for you from all over the world; from Africa to Europe to the Caribbean islands. Stray outside of your comfort zone and take the journey you’ve always dreamed of; with these fantastic deals, you’ve got few excuses not to. Read more
Rather than trying to escape the chilly weather this season, why not embrace it? Even in high season, many ski resorts offer lodging deals now, especially for travel on weekdays or toward the end of the season (late March and early April). Winter is also the cheapest time to travel to many cooler-weather metropolitan cities, both in the U.S. and abroad, so, if you can brave the lower temperatures, you’ll also enjoy reduced airfare and hotel rates.
Ski on fresh powder out West at major Colorado ski resorts like Breckenridge and Keystone, where individual condos through ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals start from just $119 per night. Most of Fairmont Hotels‘ 4-star properties throughout Canada offer rooms for 20 percent off this season, including the Jasper Park Lodge in Alberta, which sits at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Not only can you ski at the nearby Marmot Basin, you can also enjoy ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, and dog sledding. Read more
On a recent trip to Spain, I was in awe of the displays of Christmas lights in cities big and small. From bulbous blue lights hanging over the winding streets of Barcelona’s Barri Gotic, to gigantic neon-green Christmas trees in Madrid, to a seemingly endless draping of bells and garland-shaped light strings in Seville, there was no shortage of fluorescent holiday expressions. Our Christmas lights here in the U.S. are dim in comparison.
Many of these bright lights lit the way to charming Christmas markets found along pedestrian streets and major urban squares across the country. Spanish Christmas carols were heard from a chocolate vendor in Seville. Fresh pine wreaths adorned outdoor booths in the nation’s capital. Vendors in Barcelona sold logs with faces and hundreds of defecating figurines. Wait, what was that?!
In the world of luxury travel, few providers hold a candle to Abercrombie & Kent. A&K travel conjures up images of elegant, five-star accommodations, customized itineraries with expert guides, the finest of Michelin-rated dining, and cushy modes of transportation. And, of course, the hefty price tag that comes with all of those extravagances.
Looking for all that glitz on a budget? Consider A&K Connections, a new line of luxurious journeys for small groups of 24-28 guests that offers 17 itineraries from six continents. Some of the available destinations include Australia, France, India, Morocco, and Peru. I recently joined A&K on a preview of their “Spain: Seven Cities tour” to see firsthand what Connections is all about.
The cities that make up the title include Barcelona, Granada, Marbella, Gibraltar, Seville, Cordoba, and Madrid. Tally up the day-trips to Malaga, Ronda, and Jerez, however, and you’re looking at a whopping ten cities packed into a ten-day tour. The preview trip was condensed into seven-days. Needless to say, at times, this felt like a break-neck pace, even with Gibraltar sliced off the itinerary. I’d imagine the ten-day version to be just slightly less speedy.
Despite the pace, it’s hard to say which part of the trip I would eliminate to slow things down. In retrospect, it’s easy to see why Simon Butler-Madden, an A&K vet who built many of the Connections itineraries, included all the sights we saw; the trip provides a cohesive overview of Spain’s diverse history, and how that history affected all aspects of modern Spanish and Catalonian culture. Read more
If a Mediterranean, Adriatic, or Baltic cruise is on your 2012 travel wish list, check out the $1,776 July 4th sale fares now being offered by Windstar Cruises (must be booked by July 6). Windstar, which operates three tall-masted luxury ships – 312-passenger Wind Surf and 148-passenger Wind Star (shown at left in Greece) and Wind Spirit – has lowered fares on 20 European voyages sailing from mid-July to mid-November (with some fall voyages priced as low as $1,476 and December Caribbean voyages priced from $976).
I have cruised around Europe extensively and have sailed on both Wind Star and Wind Surf. If, like me, you prefer smaller ships to the behemoths, you’ll enjoy the intimate ambiance, wonderful service, superb cuisine, and easy camaraderie that these ships offer. Here are few of my recommendations for itineraries among those on sale until July 6:
Don’t tell my scale. A little over two weeks ago, I was enthusiastically taste testing my way through the 10 restaurants onboard Oceania Riviera (one of our Top 10 Cruises in 2012), the brand new 1,250-passenger upper premium ship that was christened in Barcelona, a foodie-friendly city if ever there was one! Also a perfect match: the ship’s fit and elegant godmother, Iron Chef Cat Cora (shown at left), who took time from promoting her new Bravo series Around the World in 80 Plates to help break a bottle of bubbly against Riviera’s sparkling white hull just before we set sail for molto magnifico Venice. As I sipped and savored my way around the ship, sampling everything from foie gras with artichoke puree to lobster pad Thai – not to mention whipping up my own flaky scones and fluffy zucchini-and-mint frittata in the Bon Appétit Culinary Center – I began to question whether I love cruising more for the alluring and ever changing ports of call or for the indulgent, food-centric focus of many new ships. Read on to find out whether culture or cuisine won out.
Truth be told, my only experience with a repositioning cruise was as a precocious 6-year-old sailing Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 instead of flying when my family moved back to the U.S. from Paris. Our week at sea was spent watching the newly released Beauty and the Beast and splashing in salt water swimming pools. Even our poor cat, Fuzzy, came along for the ride, although I think she had significantly less fun than we did. (Apparently this trip made quite the impression on me, as the parent volunteers from my first grade class still to this day remember how I regaled them with tales of the QE2.)
Fond childhood memories aside, these types of cruises generally offer the best deals around, since cruise lines need to move their ships from one place to another and offer significant discounts on “one-way” passages. The itineraries can cost as little as $42/night – though note since you spend less time in port you’re more apt (so the cruise lines hope) to open your wallet for the ship’s onboard activities and specialty restaurants.
When Labor Day passes, those of us with school-age kids observe a moment of silence to mourn the end of family vacationing until the winter holidays roll around. For those of us who don’t yet have or no longer have children in school, the passing of Labor Day means the time for a family vacation is now.
“Fall’s most reliable and notable trend is the drop in prices post Labor Day,” says Genevieve Shaw Brown, editorial director at Travelocity. “It’s a more affordable time for a family to take a vacation than the summer months.” For families and other bargain-hunting travelers, it’s a shoulder season “when prices are lower, crowds are fewer, and the weather is still agreeable,” she says.
Most of the world may still lack the infrastructure necessary to make electric cars a viable option for everyday use, but you can test drive the cars of the future during your next hotel stay. Satisfy your need for speed at La Réserve Genève with one of five Tesla Roadsters. These eco-vehicles may lack the “vroom vroom” of a traditional sports car (the electric nature makes them totally silent) but they still go from zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds, making them the world’s fastest electric sports cars. Guests can rent a Roadster by the day for about $984 or book a two-night Tesla Break package for about $2,294. www.lareserve.ch
Fancy a summer getaway to Europe or the Mediterranean? From Paris to Nice, Berlin to Barcelona, and even as far afield as Cairo and Tunis, Concorde Hotels and Resorts is slashing rates significantly at choice properties. Prices vary widely by hotel, but rates start at just $110/night. The offer is available for travel through August 31.
THE VALUE: This offer cuts rates by 30 percent in summer, which is peak season for most European locales.
THE CATCH: The lowest rates are for Hotel de la Cite Concorde in Lyon, but even plum Paris digs can be had for around $170/night, while the Hotel Concorde Berlin goes for under $150/night.
THE DETAILS: Click here to see a full list of participating hotels and the rates at each property.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find low rates and travel deals on flights.
The early bird may get the worm, but the last-minute traveler gets the cheap air tickets to Europe with this sale from Aer Lingus. Travel June 16-30 or July 2-August 22 (depending on the route) from New York, Boston and Chicago to select cities in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy for as low as $348 (each-way). Nine great cities are included in the sale — even Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.
THE VALUE: The same routes cost over $1,000 in summer on other airlines, so this deal saves over $400 on round-trip tickets.
THE CATCH: Tickets must be booked seven days in advance of travel, and taxes and fees are not included.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book online with Aer Lingus.
Spring usually means the arrival of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and higher airfare to Europe. Fortunately, KLM is breaking tradition and slashing rates on flights to London, Venice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Barcelona, Helsinki, Oslo, Prague, Madrid, Zurich, and Stockholm! This sale coincides with the start of festival season in Europe, so why not pop over to Budapest for the Palinka food and wine festival, Barcelona or Madrid for May Day fiestas, and Stockholm for the popcorn film festival? Fly now through May 15 from Chicago, New York, Dallas, or San Francisco for rates as low as $278 one-way.
Sample Fares (O/W)
• New York City – Barcelona: $278+
• Dallas – Amsterdam: $313+
• Chicago – London: $336+
• Miami-Budapest: $374+
• Washington – Oslo: $379+
• Houston – Venice: $384+
• San Francisco – Madrid: $419+
THE VALUE: Fares to Europe in April and May are often close to $500 each way, so this sale saves you an average of $400 round-trip.
THE CATCH: Taxes and fees are not included, and these one-way prices are based on round-trip purchases.
THE DETAILS: Click here to book your flight with KLM.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the best hotel deals in Europe.
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