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When I think of Berlin, beer and a culturally rich city comes to mind. Not an island oasis. But head about 37 miles south of the city and you’ll encounter just that. And in an old military hangar, no less. Welcome to Tropical Islands, an entire island-like resort housed in a giant dome. According to their website, the dome is actually the largest free-standing hall in the world – it’s big enough to fit the Statue of Liberty standing up and the Eiffel Tower lying on its side. Sunbathe, go swimming in the waterfalls, and even stay overnight in the middle of the world’s largest indoor rain forest. Read more
Delightfully dynamic and effortlessly edgy, Berlin packs a punch not only on its hip factor, but also on its great-value offerings for budget-minded travelers. Dig just a little deeper (and not into your pockets) to discover a city – known for its tumultuous history, provocative arts scene, and no-holds-barred nightlife – that’s also filled with top-rate attractions that are absolutely frei. Just back from a week on the ground there, here are five great freebie finds in budget-friendly Berlin. Read more
We’ve seen our fair share of unique hotel design elements, but the sheer number and grandiosity of on-property hotel aquariums took us by surprise. While some are in locations where you might expect to find elaborate shrines to the local ocean flora and fauna – Hawaii, the Bahamas, the Philippines – mega-aquariums have turned up in some unexpected places, like central Berlin and midtown Manhattan. A pair of Vegas showstoppers, a duo of Florida hideaways, and a monstrous aquatic playground only possible in everything-to-the-extreme Dubai round out our list of the largest and most extravagant. And unlike the tanks you may have encountered during grade school field trips, these 10 hotel aquariums aren’t just for pressing your nose against the glass: Some allow guests to plunge right in through scuba or snorkeling sessions, stingray feedings, or dolphin encounters. So take it from us – it really is better down where it’s wetter, under the (artificial) sea! Check out our Top 10 Hotel Aquariums to get a sneak peek of these watery wonders.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels, flights, vacation packages, and more travel deals.
Whether you’re a seasoned international traveler or your passport has more blank pages than stamped ones, you’ll likely find yourself missing the faraway comforts and familiarity of home from time to time while on the road. The Mandala Hotel in Berlin takes great care to make guests feel as they have that home away from home. From towel warmers and complimentary foot cream waiting on every pillow to minimalistic interior design and handpicked art on the walls, each space feels less like a hotel room and more like a chic city apartment. Each of the 157 luxury studios and suites at Mandala also presents guests with a small library of art and culture books and relaxing CDs. Mandala Hotel welcomes long-stay guests, and it’s no surprise that actors, celebrities, and film crews working in Berlin frequently choose to stay at Mandala when in the city.
Fresh from a $25 million facelift that gave its staterooms a glamorous dash of retro-meets-modern panache, eight-year-old Crystal Serenity embarked on a series of cruises through the Baltic Sea. Onboard for the most recent 11-day “Jewels of the Baltic” segment, I sampled the award-winning hospitality, service, and cuisine for which Crystal (www.crystalcruises.com) is renowned – all while visiting a half dozen fascinating and historically romantic cities, from Stockholm to St. Petersburg to Copenhagen (shown above at left).
Crystal’s cruise product is luxurious from aft to stern (and, accordingly, Serenity fares start at about $675 per person per day), but the line’s attention to quality is evident in everything from the chic new stateroom decor to the delicious and ambitious menus in the seven dining outlets. At 68,870 gross tons and 1,070 passengers, Crystal Serenity (shown at right) is larger than most of its luxury competitors (many of whose ships accommodate 300 to 700 passengers) and it strikes a nice balance between a small and large-ship experience. The crew’s top-notch service gives Serenity a feeling of intimacy while its size gives it recreation options (two pools, two Jacuzzis, paddle tennis courts, and a walking and jogging track that encircles the Promenade Deck) that smaller ships lack.
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.
East Coast travelers will get even more access to Germany’s cheery Christmas markets and raucous New Year’s celebrations next winter, when stylish European budget carrier Air Berlin launches its first nonstop routes connecting Berlin-Tegel Airport to Gotham’s JFK and begins operating its New York to Dusseldorf service year-round.
The thrice-weekly JFK to TXL flights take off November 2, 2011, and savvy flyers who book before February 10, 2011 can snap up fares from $281 each way, valid for travel through January 31, 2012.
Farther south, Air Berlin increases its new Miami to Berlin service (launched in November 2010) from two flights a week to three, and adds another weekly Dusseldorf route, for a total of four.
These are the Daily Deal’s favorite ShermansTravel deals from the past week. Through July 5, La Posada de Santa Fe in New Mexico is offering a Mother’s Day Celebration package starting at $235/nt whose highlight is a $200 spa credit plus more perks. The sleek, award-winning La Posada typifies easy-going Southwestern culture. Plus, American Airlines has new flights to Santa Fe from L.A., making the charming town extra-accessible. Visit www.laposada.rockresorts.com to book this offer, or call 505-986-0000.
After last month’s volcano chaos that shut down the skies over Europe, Iceland Express is making amends with travelers by offering unheard of rates on round-trip transatlantic flights for just $399. Throughout the month of June, fly from Newark to London, Berlin, Copenhagen, Krakow, Oslo, Warsaw, Luxembourg, Gothenburg, and more. These fares include all taxes and fees and are available nearly every day – perhaps making this the best deal on peak-season flights to Europe thus far this year. Tickets must be purchased by June 21, for travel though June 30.
THE VALUE: Flights to Europe have skyrocketed this year. The lowest rates on competitor airlines range from $950-$1,600 (or more) so this deal easily saves you well over $500. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find these prices during the chilly off-season months.
THE CATCH: The flight isn’t direct. You’ll stopover in Reykjavik (Iceland’s capital).
THE DETAILS: Book this deal at icelandexpress.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Need a hotel once you touch down? Check out our Europe Hotel Deals page.
Interested in learning more about dining, sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife in Europe? Our Europe Travel Guide gives you the inside scoop.
FOUND A BETTER DEAL? Tell us.
Although experts warn Iceland’s volcano may erupt for weeks, if not months, the great European flight blackout of 2010—the biggest disruption since 9/11—can’t last forever. When the ash clears, faster than you can say Eyjafjallajokull, it’ll be go time again! And airberlin wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the gay festivities.
Now through October, fly roundtrip on airberlin from any of its US gateways (New York JFK, Miami, Fort Myers, Los Angeles, and San Francisco) and receive $100 off just for being you. Flights go direct to Düsseldorf with connections throughout Europe such as Helsinki, Barcelona, Milan, and Salzburg. Having racked in numerous “Best Low-Cost Carrier” awards with its modern fleet and sharply bedecked flight attendants, airberlin feels like a Teutonic version of JetBlue: retro-mod stylings with prices just as nice.
Trips from Miami to Berlin around Christopher Street Day Pride start at $432 one way (taxes included), before discount. San Francisco to Cologne for the VIII Gay Games might only set you back $412 each way. London Pride in July? Also only $432 one way. Or just want some mountain air in August? San Francisco to Zurich starts at $515. Flights must be booked by May 31.
To get your $100-off coupon code, register with airberlin here.
Looking for a party at your destination? InterPride maintains a comprehensive calendar of prides and LGBT celebrations throughout Europe.
For more trip-planning information, see our Europe Travel Guide.
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