Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Incredible India



Undoubtedly one of the most stunning and luxurious hotels in the world, the five-star Oberoi Udaivilas in Udaipur, India, is truly just that. The Oberoi Udaivilas has received numerous awards including having been voted No. 1 on the Top 100 Hotels by Travel + Leisure Worlds' Best Awards in 2015. 

In the center of Rajasthan is a city with picturesque lakes and grand palaces, known as Udaipur. Along the edge of Lake Pichola sits the Oberoi Udaivilas in all its royal splendour with a display of endless courtyards, streaming fountains, and lush gardens.  

Offering the utmost in privacy, the Oberoi Udaivilas offers rooms with outdoor dining terraces that open onto semi-private swimming pools featuring magnificent views. Absolute heaven. A luxurious spa, with its own swimming pool, offers even more rejuvenation and relaxation, where its' highly trained staff includes a resident yoga teacher.

Nearby this fabulous resort, and not that you’d ever want to leave, is the City Palace; the Crystal Gallery at the Fateh Prakash Hotel; the 17th Century traditional Jagdish Temple; amazing views from Sajjan Garh (Monsoon Palace); boat rides on Lake Pichola; and the garden of Sahelion ki Bari, to only name a few!

The Oberoi Udaivilas features several unique packages including 6- to 12-day Exotic Vacations, which includes a visit to the Taj Mahal and the Himalayas. Premier rooms rates start at approximately INR 24,500 (USD $360) to USD $13,240 per night for a Kohinoor Suite with a private pool and a garden terrace.

Join me on the September 7/17 departure!!

For more information, visit the Oberoi Udaivilas and Incredible India. And be sure to check out 12 Must-See Destinations You Shouldn't Miss!

       

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Travel Trends & News for 2017

Now that everyone has weighed in on their Travel Trends for 2017, I'd like to offer a recap of what Frommers, New York Times and NPR have said, grouped by category. But I'd like to mention that some of this is just factual information, or news, about things to come, not necessarily trends in my eyes?? You can be the judge!

Airlines & Airports


American Airlines:
Will be offering more segmented cabins in-flight, including basic, premium economy, first and business class. First class fliers can enjoy the 'flagship dining' experience in American Airlines lounges at JFK in New York (with plans to expand to DFW, MIA and LAX). AA will also be tying their loyalty program to the dollar amount spent; at the airport, Elite flyers will be put on an upgrade stand-by list, which would normally be queued by arrival and status, but will now include $$ spent, so be prepared for frustration at gate.

Delta Air Lines:
Is set to introduce Delta Premium Select seating with enhanced amenities, more seat room and priority check-in/boarding

United Airlines:
Is introducing their United Polaris business class seats which convert into beds while offering aisle access. There's also a new Polaris lounge at ORD in Chicago. For economy passengers, United Airlines is now charging fliers a fee to place items in the overhead compartment. Wowza.

Fees:
The take on basic economy priced airfares is that for a lower rate of about $25, you'll be even more restricted with your ticket should you need to make changes etc., as it's basically a non-refundable, non-changeable airfare. You're probably better off paying the regular economy price so as to have some flexibility at least.


Hotels


Hyatt:
The Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program with 2 tiers will become the World of Hyatt with 3 award levels.

Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces, + Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts:
Have joined together to offer a new hotel loyalty program, Warner Welcomes. Between the two, they offer more than 200 hotels in 27 countries.

Marriott International:
With the recent purchase of Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016, Marriott is now the world's largest hotel company. They're set to open 30 luxe hotel properties in 2017 including their popular Ritz-Carlton and W Hotel brands.

Airbnb:
Airbnb has increased in popularity so much so that 40% of Airbnb hosts now do this for a living over traditional jobs. 

RoomMate Hotels & AllTheRooms:
Here's an interesting new concept when it comes to hotel stays: Room Mate is a hotel company that offers rooms in apartments close to its' hotels, through a program they're calling Be Mate. And you still get to take advantage of all the hotel amenities. AllTheRooms offers the same concept.

University Stays:
A great way to save on travel is to stay in budget student accommodations at a university during the off school season. The University of British Columbia (Okanagan) Campus is perfect example of this popular hotel option.


Theme Parks

Walt Disney World Resort:
Pandora, the World of Avatar, is set to open in 2017 and will feature an Avatar Flight of Passage ride.

Seaworld Orlando:
The Kraken rollercoaster will receive a VR update to become the only VR coaster experience in Florida.

Universal Orlando Resort:
Volcano Bay, a new water park, is set to open this year; it will feature an aqua coaster and a body plunge where guests (?? fear lovers??) will fall through a 70-degree drop door.

Legoland Florida Resort:
Lego Ninjago land opened in January. 


Best Places to Travel in 2017

Mexico:
Especially if you're Canadian, as the dollar is gaining compared to the Peso.

Paris:
Travel to the City of Lights was down by 30% in 2016. Check out these Top Things to do in Paris!

Canada:
During the 150th anniversary in 2017, admission to all of Canada's National Parks is FREE. Find out how to apply for your Parks Canada FREE 2017 Discovery Pass!


Asia:
Prices for flights to Asia have decreased by as much as 20% in 2016, as competition is up and passenger numbers are down.

Middle East:
If you're planning to travel to the Middle East, now is the time to do so, before President Trump puts any Muslim-related travel restrictions in place, which will no doubt be reciprocated by all Middle Eastern countries affected.

USA & Canada:
Camping for families has gained in popularity by 50% over 5 years ago. Could be due to family budgets or wanting to dis-connect and re-connect on a more personal basis. More diverse camping opportunities are available with the onset of websites like Latino Outdoors and Outdoor Afro.

Cuba:
Go now! President Trump could reinstate Cuba's embargo making this beautiful country non-accessible once again in the near future. The influx of American tourists has unfortunately resulted in a 30-40% increase of hotel prices.


Cruises

Many cruise lines are looking at minimizing days at sea with longer port stays, some of which may include overnight stays. Cruise lines are also expanding into new destinations such as Iceland and the Faroe Islands, as well as all-Asian itineraries.


Carnival Cruise Line:
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month, Carnival Cruise Line introduced their new Ocean Medallion guest tracking system - technically known as a vacation management system. The waterproof disks have been designed to be worn as jewelry-style bracelets or put into your pocket, which will allow guests to tap and pay, or to open their staterooms by simply being near the door. It will also allow guests to buy alcoholic beverages or items from the ships' stores, or can be used in the casino. Wowza, talk about convenience! 

And to spark your next travel idea, check out the 23rd World Travel Award Winners, showcasing the best of the best.


  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Macaron Day!

www.hattierootphotography.com
Oo-la-la, today is Macaron Day!! Truly, what could be better??! Macarons are delightful and delicious, plus they're also gluten free!!

One of my favorite places to purchase macarons, other than Paris, of course, is from Bon Macaron Patisserie at Granville Island and Kitsilano in Vancouver, and Victoria, BC. 

As natives of France, the owners David Boetti and Yann Fougere, offer an ever-changing array of macaron flavors served up in cute individual cellophane bags (who can buy just one??!) - and as all macaron lovers know, besides the macaron itself, it's all about the packaging ;)


www.hattierootphotography.com
In celebration of Macaron Day, with every 6 pack sold, Bon Macaron Patisserie is proudly donating $5 to your favorite charity, plus you'll also receive 2 FREE macarons - tres bien!!

If you're planning to visit gorgeous BC, be sure to check out Bon Macaron Patisserie's macaron making classes where you'll get a hands on chance to make these delectable treats yourself.

For more information, visit Bon Macaron Patisserie for your little taste of Paris. Plus, be sure to read:
Top Things to do in Paris and The Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt in Paris!


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ernest Hemingway Home, Key West

©ConnieMotz2017
I have to admit I only started reading Hemingway in the last few years. And then, of course, once I started, I was hooked like a fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea. I loved learning about the bullfighting culture in Spain through The Sun Also Rises, and then my travel dream came true - I visited the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, FL.

If you're a Hemingway fan, I highly recommend visiting his Key West home and learning about the history through one of the tours (included in the admission price). I spent hours wandering around the property taking in everything including the famous 6-toed cats and the in-ground pool, quite the feat considering workers had to dig a hole through solid coral and no doubt, a huge luxury at the time!
©ConnieMotz2017

This beautiful plantation-style home, built in 1851, was purchased by Hemingway and his wife Pauline in 1931 for $8,000. In 2017, this house remains as the largest single property on the island of Key West. 

©ConnieMotz2017

The home showcases original furnishings used by Hemingway and his family (including 2 sons, Patrick and Gregory) as well as personal photographs and artwork. Pauline shipped chandeliers for the home back from her many trips to Paris. Hemingway's writing room is located above the coach house at the back of the property.


©ConnieMotz2017
While you're visiting the Conch Republic, be sure to check out the bar where Hemingway used to imbibe. Well, check out 2 bars since they both lay claim to being the venue where Hemingway drank and wrote for hours on end: Sloppy Joe's Bar on Duval Street and Captain Tony's Saloon on Greene Street, both about a 14-minute walk away.

General admission to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, including the 30-minute guided tour, is only $14. A rare bargain that gives a glimpse into the life of such a talented author, so well worth visiting! And before you get to the Ernest Hemingway home, download the Hemingway Home App so you can meander at your own pace before or after the tour while being provided details of his life, books and the time he spent on Key West (available in 5 languages).

For more information, visit Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and be sure to check out my review of the Norwegian Getaway!