Shermanstravel Blog

Winter

By: Thayer Walker

Thomas Kranzle/Courtesy Venture Media

The Sierra Nevada mountain range runs through California like a 250-mile snowcapped spine, with the area around 22-mile-long Lake Tahoe, straddling California and Nevada, as its winter sports epicenter. Other ski areas dot the Sierras, but the Tahoe region is the shining star of the range, with the most varied and quality runs per square mile. Adventure seekers have trekked to the area for centuries; prospectors settled here in the late 1840s during California’s gold rush. But today the mountains draw ski and snowboard enthusiasts seeking a different kind of payoff.

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Countdown Entertainment, LLC

3, 2, 1 . . . Happy New Year! Whether counting down to 2013 at tried-and-true celebrations like New York’s annual Times Square extravaganza, or by eating a grape for every stroke of midnight in Barcelona, your adrenaline is sure to be racing as 2012 winds down at our favorite locales for New Year celebrations. We love the ultimate party city, Vegas, for its most over-the-top show of the year; partying heartily in Berlin’s massive open-air fiesta; schussing the slopes of the majestic Rockies; and even standing under the breathtaking fireworks cascade over Sydney’s harbor. Should you agree that one day of feting simply won’t suffice, experience the celebration Scot-style, with merrymaking in Edinburgh that lasts four long days, or head to bustling Hong Kong to experience what’s billed as the world’s largest Chinese New Year celebration, spanning more than three weeks of festivities. Beach-lovers can also experience sandy revelry with a twist on December 31 in Rio or Miami.

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Photos.comWinter offers bargains in stunning coastal Maine

In life, being in the right place at the right time can come down to serendipity. But in travel, it is almost always the result of good planning. To avoid crowds and inflated prices, we recommend the period between high and low seasons when the weather is fine, places are still open and happy to welcome travelers, and you can explore a destination at your own pace. We call this magical time and space continuum the Sweet Spot and make it a point to round up the best of them for you each season. We’ve covered the 20 best places to travel for value this winter and grouped them by region – follow the links to right to discover this season’s Sweet Spots.

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iStock International

Peak ski season is in full swing, with a winter wonderland welcoming enthusiastic snow-lovers to carve out many of the world’s best slopes. But the exhilaration needn’t end when the pistes close: Let your hair down under that ski hat and discover our favorite après-ski scenes around the globe, including two Colorado Rockies’ resorts that cater to both the refined and the rowdy, a glamorous casino-dotted ski town straddling the Nevada and California borders, and a Canadian gem that pulsates with live music and good times. Or, check out the Eastern seaboard at Killington, where you’re guaranteed to have a “killer” time. Of course, no list would be complete without a sprinkling of alpine villages – we’re keen on four evergreen après-ski hot spots that have provided tried-and-true nighttime fun to generations of skiers. And, for those of you who refuse to let summer signal your last descent, we’ve even thrown in one South American ski town where you can get your après-ski fix between June and September.

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Omni Mount Washington Resort

There’s a certain magic known only to those who spend time out on the slopes, found in those glorious moments of carving out solitary paths through a snow-clad winter wonderland – it’s only natural to want to pass that enchantment on to the brood. Of course, the littlest ski legs have some way to go before they’ll be shredding black-diamond trails – that’s why our editors have rounded up these 10 family ski resorts, right here in North America. Spread out from the Northeast to the Rockies and up past the Canadian border, these family ski-friendly mountain playgrounds offer not only superior kid-geared instruction and picturesque beginner’s terrain, but snow-centric and off-slope activities that the whole family can enjoy. Check out what these mountains have to offer with our Family Ski Resorts Slideshow.

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Stowehof Inn

We surveyed 10 popular U.S. winter resorts and uncovered deep savings at budget ski hotels that are just a hop, skip, and schuss from the slopes. Most tout nightly rates that hover between $100-150, and a couple go even lower than that: A cozy bed at the chalet-chic Stowehof Inn at Stowe, Vermont can be yours for only $78, and a double room at the eco-friendly 968 Park Hotel at Lake Tahoe goes for $109. With the peace of mind that comes with making a smart hotel choice, now you can focus on the slopes. To that end, we also highlight the newest bells and whistles at each ski resort, from high-speed chairlifts and state-of-the-art terrain parks to restaurant renovations and a white-knuckle winter zip line tour. Get a sneak peek of these winter hideaways with our Budget Ski Hotels slideshow.

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Flickr/CobraVerde

As oil prices continue to fluctuate, airlines are consolidating flights, cutting unprofitable routes, and using smaller planes. Though domestic flights have been cut as much as 14 percent between June 2007 and June, translating to fewer seats for sale and less desperation on behalf of the airlines to fill them, there’s still a discernible surge in flyer demand, especially around the holidays. Factor in a smattering of “peak travel surcharges” and a slew of a la carte airline fees and you have a recipe for a pricey trip.  But there is hope if you act quickly. Find some of the best fares out there by referencing these money-saving tips for booking holiday flights, then compare airline rates online via ShermansTravel’s nifty Travel Search tool.

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By: Alexander Basek

Whiteface Lake Placid

When those big, fat flakes start falling, it’s time to pull all the warm clothes out of storage and get ready for some winter activities. But if you’re not a skier, there’s no need to feel left out. Bundle up and head out into the snow with our 10 winter destinations for non-skiers. Our list covers adventurous pursuits like bobsledding and ice climbing, has a little something for animal lovers with dog sledding and snow monkeys, lets the hungry enjoy a king crab safari, and tops it all off with a great way to revel in the Aurora Borealis. Most destinations are in North America, but for those of you who yearn for international travel, we’ve thrown in a few far-afield places as well.
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Hosting the Olympic Games is a prestigious honor that cities around the world compete for with as much stamina and finesse as any world-class athlete. But just as with the sporting events they hope to celebrate, there can only be one winner, and when it comes to choosing a host city there is no silver medal. Since the birth of the modern Games in 1896, several cities have submitted Olympic bid after Olympic bid, only to see their dreams of glory continuously dashed. Detroit alone has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a whopping seven times! We here at ShermansTravel headquarters are still mourning the loss of the 2012 Games for our hometown, New York City, so we understand these cities’ frustrations – and know there’s so much more to these locales than their failed Olympic bids. Our top 10 snubbed Olympic cities may be some of the losing-est destinations, but they still offer plenty of ways to get your sports fix, not to mention new and noteworthy gold-medal attractions that keep visitors coming back for more. While some cities last attempted a bid in the ‘50s or ‘60s, two of our picks – Istanbul and Madrid – are finalists to host the 2020 Games. Here’s hoping one of our rejects can finally get its chance at Olympic history!
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PunchStockEscape to top winter destinations like Belize and Banff to beat the blues

Brrrr. When Old Man Winter comes to town, it’s easy to get down. But a visit to any of our favorite places to beat the winter blues will have you forgetting about the slush, snow boots, and dreary days of the long, dark season in no time. This year, why not pack your bags and head to top winter destinations like the slopes of Banff, the aquatic playgrounds of Belize and the Red Sea, the sands of Búzios, the quirky town of Key West, or even your own private villa on St. Barts? If it takes more than surf or snow to stimulate your senses, head out on a sophisticated city trip to Los Angeles or Melbourne, where sunny climes and attractive lifestyles beckon, or go even farther afield, on a trip of a lifetime to Rajasthan or Antarctica. Indeed, the icy waters at the bottom of the globe become passable only when the temperatures drop in the Northern Hemisphere, allowing adventuresome travelers seeking a rare annual opportunity to spot the season’s coolest sights – penguins, icebergs, and glaciers. Get a sneak peak of these rejuvenating destinations with our Places to Beat the Winter Blues slideshow.

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iStock InternationalDiscover where the leaders of the free world get away from it all with these presidential vacations

No matter what your mother told you, chances are you’re never going to be President of the United States – after all, only 43 men to date can make the claim. So where on earth does the leader of the free world go for a little R & R? Anywhere he wants. It may come as a surprise, however, that the favorite places of the first families are often decidedly low-key destinations – places ordinary civilians vacation every day. So even if your job isn’t quite as stressful as the commander in chief’s, take a trip to one of the destinations on our top 10 presidential vacations list, and you can get away like it is.

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Los Cabos Tourism BoardSpend a weekend playing jet-setter at these quick winter getaways

It doesn’t matter if the pages of your passport are filled with stamps or if you’ve got a shiny new one just waiting to take a trip, because a quick winter getaway is the perfect excuse to break it out. Sure you could head to the local ski resort or down to Florida with everyone else in your neighborhood, but why not spend the weekend abroad? Whether soaking up the sun or schussing down the slopes makes for your ideal vacation, we’ve rounded up 10 international destinations that are just a quick flight from many U.S. cities – and even included information on how to get there to make these winter weekends abroad as easy for you as possible. Preview these fabulous jet-set destinations with our Quick Winter Getaways slideshow.

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David MacGillivray/Montserrat Tourist Board

The Caribbean isn’t exactly known to be cheap, but you can stretch your dollar pretty far on certain islands – even when traveling during the winter high season. Popular hot spots like the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and others offer great value in terms of easy access and well-priced lodging and dining options. But some off-the-beaten-path islands, from Montserrat to Tobago, are also worth seeking out for the extraordinary bang for the buck that they provide. All-inclusive holidays dominate the scene on most of these islands – great if you want a worry-free, value-packed vacation, but limiting if you want to experience the destination beyond the resort gates; don’t overlook smaller, locally owned villas and inns for terrific, cost-effective alternatives. Other surefire money-savers include traveling during the off season (from May to November) and looking to budget carriers for cheap flights – these tips, coupled with our editors’ picks for budget Caribbean islands, are guaranteed to leave you with enough cash left over to dole out on those frothy, beachfront piña coladas once you touch down! Get a preview of our favorite value getaways with our Budget Caribbean Islands slideshow.

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Given the hundreds of picture-perfect, palm-dotted, beach-fronted islands that speckle the Caribbean Sea, it’s little wonder that these turquoise waters provide haven to a higher number of pleasure cruise ships than anywhere else in the world. Though many islands are too small or underdeveloped to support cruise ship ports, countless others, each with unique personalities, landscapes, and cultural offerings, provide a wealth of choices. Caribbean cruise itineraries are typically divided into Western, Eastern, and Southern segments, with the entire region serviced by more than 20 cruise lines, offering fleets ranging from intimate, tall-ship windjammers to village-at-sea, mega-ship liners. Whether you’re in search of raucous nightlife, stellar duty-free shopping, exhilarating waters sports, rich colonial history, or pristine tropical terrain, there’s a Caribbean island itinerary to suit almost every taste.
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By: Becca Bergman

Coeur des AlpesZermatt, Switzerland boasts great skiing and cozy boltholes like Coeur des Alpes

Lots of ski resorts offer diversions for nonskiers, but these places stand apart as compelling destinations in their own right. Whether the draw is cultural or culinary, or an exceptional spa, no one is left out. The skiing isn’t too shabby either. Preview our favorite wintry destinations with our Ski Resorts for Nonskiers slideshow

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