Happy New Year's Eve!!


Words of Wisdom...

"We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called "Opportunity" and its first chapter is New Year's Day"
Edith Lovejoy Pierce

"Resolve to make at least one person happy every day, and then in ten years you may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy, or brightened a small town by your contribution to the fund of general enjoyment."
Sydney Smith

"Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself."
Aisha Elderwyn

Planning a Vacation? Try the Turkish Riviera!

Already well known to Turkish travelers, the Turkish Riviera seems to be a best kept secret to the rest of the world – except for Beyonce, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, and Sting, to name a few.

Located in southwest Turkey, the Turkish Riviera is found at the edge of the stunning turquoise Aegean Sea, spanning from Bodrum to Fethiye.  Dotted along its coastline are 5,000 year-old fishing villages, spectacular coves, archaeological ruins, castles, and historical sites.

The area still retains its original charm and appeal although luxurious accommodations & amenities are available.  The region is definitely not as pricey as the French Riviera and offers many of the same attractions – wineries, olive trees, endless water sports, gorgeous beaches, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife – with something to suit every budget.

For more information, visit Bodrum Turkey and the official website of Turkish Culture and Tourism Office, Tourism Turkey.

Flickr.com Photo Credit: myhsu

FREE Maui Travel Planner!

With over 70 pages, your complimentary copy of the Maui Travel Planner awaits you!

Maui, the island of natural wonders, along with the islands of Molokai and Lanai, offer towering waterfalls, deep canyons, white sand beaches and crystal blue Pacific waters.  Here you can watch the sunrise over a volcano or a giant humpback as it crowns near your catamaran bow.

Consider that Molokaʻi is the only island in which native Hawaiians constitute the majority of the population. Add to that, the fact that Molokaʻi is almost completely rural, which means that many islanders still predominately practice traditional livelihoods such as farming, fishing and hunting.

Lānaʻi's natural and cultural attractions are spread out over 141 square miles, down roads more bumpy than paved, through rainforest and pineapple lands and arid, windswept plains. There are only 30 miles of paved road. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are the norm. In Lānaʻi's rhythm and scale, it may take an hour to go 12 miles, but the landscape is part of the journey.

Order your FREE Maui Travel Planner at Visit Maui or view online here.

Press Release: Visit Maui
Flickr.com Photo Credits: 

ENTER TO WIN 1 of 5 Adventure Trips to Fiji

When people think of Fiji, they think: “The friendliest people in the world” or “One of the top 5 romantic destinations in the world” or “The spa capital of the South Pacific.”  But if you want have fun and get your shot of adrenaline, there’s no place to get it, like Fiji!

Get your adventure on!  You’ll get your heart pumping with zip-lining, white water river rafting, jetboating, surfing or windsurfing, mountain biking, jet-skiing, sky diving, shark diving, horseback-riding, parasailing, world-class deep sea fishing and either highlands or rainforest trekking and sea or river kayaking!

Add in awesome scenery, flaming sunsets and uncrowded, white sand beaches and your experience will be unforgettable.  Sample flying times to Fiji are 9 hours 45 minutes from Los Angeles, 3 ½ hours from Sydney, and only 3 hours from Auckland.

So, go to: Fiji Me! and have some fun and you’ll know why the only answer to “Thrill Me” is “Fiji Me!”  But remember, even if you don’t win 1 of our 5 Adventure Trips for two, no worries...with an exchange rate of US$1.92 to the F$1.00, our partners, Fiji Escapes Travel and Air Pacific will get you there for a “thrilling” price!  Good Luck!

Visit Fiji Me! to enter the contest ending February 15, 2010, or view the complete Rules & Contest instructions.

Fiji Me! Press Release 
Flickr Photo Credits:
Alex Kehr

Christmas Around the World

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." - Garrison Keillor.  

Merry Christmas Happy Holidays - enjoy Christmas photos from around the world or watch a video from History.com on the History of Christmas.

Quiet Night in Quebec City

Market in Rothenburg, Germany

Merry Christmas! Buon Natale! Frohe Weihnachten!

Flickr.com Photo Credits:
Quite Night in Quebec City - Pfala
Market in Rothenburg - d'n'c
Merry Christmas! Buon Natale! Frohe Weihnachten! - Jakob Montrasio

The Magic of Santa and Christmas Eve

The night before Christmas, or Christmas Eve as it’s widely known, produces a number of different traditions for children and families around the world.

In the U.S.A. and Canada, children go to bed early but leave cookies and milk by the Christmas tree for Santa to enjoy.  After all, he’s on a long journey and will no doubt get hungry as he travels around the globe; plus he has to keep up his figure.  Other North American traditions include the reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,’ watching Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ or singing Christmas carols.

In Austria and throughout the United Kingdom, children leave out a small glass of sherry and a mince pie for Santa.  In Sweden, children leave brownies for Santa; in the Netherlands, they leave out carrots and hay to feed Santa’s hungry reindeer.

In Italy, a Christmas Eve meal is prepared (without any meat) and is followed by a visit to a live nativity scene, or maybe a bonfire, and then everyone attends midnight mass.  

On Christmas Eve in Egypt, it is customary to wear a new outfit; in Japan, couples spend a romantic evening together or opt out and eat traditional Christmas cakes with their family.

Noche Bueno is Christmas Eve in Mexico where the family spends the day together, enjoys an evening meal, and then attends traditional midnight mass.

Watch about Origins of Santa Claus on History.com or track Santa on Christmas Eve!

Flickr.com  Photo Credit: Thomas Ott

Oberoi Udaivilas, in Udaipur, 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 was voted the 8th Best Hotel in the World and the 3rd Best in Asia by Travel + Leisure in 2009; as well as the 4th Best Hotel in the World and the Best in Asia by Conde Nast Traveler in 2008.
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 its 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.  Heavenly.  A luxurious spa, with its own swimming pool, offers even more rejuvenation and relaxation through highly trained staff including 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 Exotic Vacations, India in Luxury, and Visit India 2010; Premier Room rates start at INR $30,500 or the equivalent of USD $663 per night to a maximum of USD $5,432 for a night in a Kohinoor Suite with a Private Pool.
For more information, visit the Oberoi Udaivilas and Incredible India.

Planning a Visit to Disney? Check out these Don’ts!

Even the Happiest Place on Earth has rules that need to be followed.  According to Disney, these don'ts are in place to “provide a safe, secure environment for our Guests to enjoy.” 

You may want to take note before you try and gain admission to any of their theme parks.  Disney Don’ts include ‘distractions’ and health or safety issues; the following are not permitted:
  • “Clothing or tattoos with obscene, lewd or offensive language, graphics or designs”
  • “Clothing that could be construed as indecent, exposing excessive portions of skin that may be viewed as inappropriate for a family environment (e.g., string bikini tops and bottoms, G-strings, clothing that accentuates or draws attention to private areas)”
  • “bare feet”
  • “weapons or accessories that appear to be weapons (i.e., bullet belts)”
  • “clothing or accessories that drag on the ground and create a potential tripping hazard”
  • “costumes on Guests over the age of 9 (e.g., Halloween costumes – with the exceptions of special events – wedding dresses, period costumes)”
  • “sharp or pointed accessories that may cause injury”
  • “masks or makeup that could be construed as part of a costume”
Here are a few more things to add to the list of Disney don’ts:
  • “Children under the age of ten will not be served” at Victoria & Albert’s restaurant located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Segways cannot be brought into the park
  • Disney workers with beards
  • Gum cannot be purchased at any of the Disney park
Flickr.com Photo Credit: MrKathika

Meet the Riu Guanacaste in Costa Rica!

Welcome to one of the newest properties located on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, the five-star Riu Guanacaste.

Newly opened in October 2009, this all-inclusive tropical oasis offers spacious rooms; a main restaurant with optional Asian, Italian, and steakhouse dining; swimming pool and Jacuzzi; several bars; nightclub and a casino; gym facilities; tennis court; an introductory scuba lesson in the pool; windsurfing; sailing; snorkeling equipment, and kayaking.

Known for its eco-tourism, this west coast location in Costa Rica also offers volcanic areas and natural parks for exploration, and plains of African-like Savannah landscape – with authentic local cowboys and horseback riding excursions.

For more information, visit Riu Guanacaste and Visit Costa Rica.

Luggage Tag Contest Winners!!

Congratulations to Kate5405 and Mark who are both winners of a set of four luggage tags courtesy of MyLuggageTags!

Kate!  Please contact me with your email information!!!

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Explore the New 7 Wonders of the World by Cruise Ship!

With over 100 million votes, the New 7 Wonders of the World were officially announced back in 2007, but did you know you can visit them all by sailing on a cruise ship?

Some visits may require a day excursion while others require an overnight adventure but they are all accessible to cruise passengers.  Let’s explore each of the New 7 Wonders by sea.
  1. Petra, Jordan: the 2,000 year old sandstone city is a day trip for passengers onboard the Seabourn Spirit
  2. Taj Mahal, India: this stunning white marble masterpiece can be visited by Cunard passengers on a three-day excursion from the Queen Mary 2 or the Queen Elizabeth, or by a day trip for passengers of the Royal Princess or Ocean Princess
  3. Chichen Itza, Mexico: over six square miles of Mayan Ruins can be visited on day-excursions by passengers of several Carnival Cruise Line ships (Destiny, Ecstasy, Elation, Fantasy or Imagination) or Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam
  4. Statue of Christ the Redeemer, Brazil: 120’ feet tall, this statue has reigned over the Rio de Janeiro harbor since 1931 and is visited by most cruise ships with a South American itinerary
  5. The Colosseum, Italy: Dating back to 80 A.D. and the times of the gladiators, it’s only a 2-hour shore excursion away from the port of Civitavecchia, visited by most European cruise lines
  6. Great Wall of China: spanning nearly 4,000 miles, this massive wall can be visited on a day excursion from Beijing or a two-hour trip from Xingang for passengers with Princess, Holland America or Yangtze Viking River Cruise
  7. Machu Picchu, Peru: almost 8,000 feet above sea level, this three-night excursion will take passengers onboard the Oceania Insignia to new heights
For more information on the New 7 Wonders of the World, visit the New 7 Wonders.

Flickr.com Photo Credit: xiquinhosilva

The Best Travel Deals in Ireland

Only six hours from the east coast of the United States, and with five airlines offering direct flights, getting to Ireland has never been easier.  

Package trips to Ireland start as low as USD $499 per person including airfare, car rental, and a 6 night hotel stay.  One of the best hotel deals in Ireland is at The Ardmore Hotel in Dublin with an 84% recommendation rate with readers of TripAdvisor and rates as low as €42 per night.

With over fifty years in business, a car hire in Dublin is as easy as making your reservation online with Sixt Ireland rentals.  Offering a selection of vehicles for five passengers up to a van to carry ten passengers, Sixt Ireland is known as the ‘low cost car hire in Ireland.’   One of the best car rental rates is a five passenger economy car (Hyundai Getz or similar) with rates as low as €120.33 for a seven day rental with unlimited mileage.  Sixt Ireland has several airport locations including Dublin, Shannon, Kerry, Cork, and Ireland West Airport in Knock, plus a city location in Dublin.  As an added bonus, Sixt Ireland offers driving itineraries from 2 day excursions to a 10 day coast to coast trip.

One of the best restaurant deals in Dublin is Gallagher’s Boxty House Restaurant & Bar is ‘The Home of Traditional Irish Food!’ for over twenty years.  With prices ranging from €4.95, one of the most popular dishes is the Boxty Platter providing a selection of boxtys (potato pancakes) and dipping sauces.  Reservations are recommended and can be made online.

For more information, visit The Admore Hotel, Sixt Ireland, and Gallgher’s Boxty House Restaurant & Bar.

Flickr.com Photo Credit: atomicpuppy68

13 Days of Grinchmas at Universal Studios Hollywood

The "13 Days of Grinchmas" will be featured at Universal Studios Hollywood from December 19 -31, 2009, as they celebrate with tons of real white snow, a very green Grinch, encounters with Cindy-Lou Who, Max the Dog, and the original movie sets where the classic "Dr Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was filmed.
Celebrity storybook readers featuring cast members from PSYCH, Heroes, The Hills, 90210, Mean Girls, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Young and The Restless, and Dancing with the Stars will read aloud during each of the 13 days at 4:45 p.m. near the Grinchmas tree.  Families will be able to pose with the Whoville cast for holiday photos.
The "13 Days of Grinchmas" is included in the price of theme park admission.  A bonus for SoCal residents - attend the "Grinchmas" event with the purchase of the "Buy A Day, Get 2010 Free" pass and return to enjoy a full year of admission for the price of a single day's ticket!

For more information, visit Universal Studios Hollywood.

Discover Ireland with a Self Drive Tour

Hands down, there’s no better way to explore the land of enchantment than by renting a car in Ireland.  Discover Ireland invites you to “follow their recommended tours across the country, where the views will be spectacular and the ‘craic’ will be mighty!”  From two day tours to the Wicklow Mountains or ten day tours covering coast to coast, Discover Ireland offers detailed day-by-day sample itineraries.

With over fifty year’s experience, family owned Sixt Ireland is a popular car hire company based in Dublin.  They take pride in providing a personal touch and truly love to help visitors enjoy their stay while making the most of their time.  

Sixt Ireland offers all types of vehicles from five passenger economy cars, such as an Opel Astra, up to a Mercedes Benz Vito, which can accommodate 10 passengers comfortably.  Sixt Ireland also offers a variety of special discounts, subject to availability, such as renting three days for the price of two; discounts on certain weekday rentals; or adding a GPS Satellite Navigation System to your car hire in Ireland for only €10 per day.

Known as the ‘low cost car hire in Ireland,’ Sixt Ireland has airport rental locations in Dublin, Cork, Shannon, Kerry, and Ireland West Airport in Knock, plus a city location in Dublin; car rental rates with Sixt Ireland start at €50 per day for a 4x4 vehicle or €88.68 for a passenger van.  

For more information, visit Sixt Ireland and Discover Ireland.

Flickr.com Photo Credits:

Enter to Win Two Sets of Four Luggage Tags!

With holiday travel upon us and all those fabulous winter vacations still ahead, here’s your chance to enter to win one of two sets of four luggage tags courtesy of My Luggage Tags.

Some of the hottest luggage tags around, My Luggage Tags feature high-quality tags in five different sizes, all in easy to spot funky colors.  Made of plastic or metal, these awesome tags come in a variety of styles: kids, wedding, valentine, Hawaiian, and pink, to only name a few; custom luggage tags are also available.

My Luggage Tags will make it easy to find your luggage amongst the hundreds of other bags circling aimlessly around the airport baggage carousel!

How to Enter: Visit My Luggage Tags, makers of durable, bright, colorful luggage tags, and choose your favorite.  Come back to Travel Writer and comment on this post by telling me your favorite tag. For four additional entries, follow Travel Writer on Twitter!  

Fine Print: This Travel Writer & My Luggage Tags giveaway starts Monday, December 14, 2009 and ends on Friday, December 18, 2009, at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time.  There will be two random winners chosen (each winner will receive 4 luggage tags) on Saturday, December 19, 2009, and contacted by email; please be sure to include your email address or blogger identification so the winner can be contacted.

What You Should Do if Your Flight is Cancelled

Having been a Certified Travel Consultant for a number of years, here’s my version of what you should do if your flight is cancelled.  Always remember to confirm your flight before you leave home and then follow a systemized list of what you should do if your flight is cancelled.
  • be respectful and courteous
  • know your reservation number and/or flight number
  • get in line at the airline’s check-in counter with everyone else, but, while you’re in line, call the toll-free number of your airline (note the name of the person you speak to) or better yet, call your travel agent
  • ask what your options are:
    • if you must travel, ask for the next available flight or a flight with another airline
    • if you could delay your travel (by several hours or even a few days), volunteer to take a later flight in possible exchange for a future travel voucher
    • or could you get a full refund and travel at a later date?
  • generally, if the flight is delayed by 4 hours or more due to fault of the airlines, many airlines will provide meal vouchers and if they don’t, ask for them
  • also, if the flight is delayed until the next day due to the fault of the airlines, many airlines will offer overnight accommodation; again, if they don’t, ask for it
  • if a flight is cancelled because of weather or other uncontrollable circumstances, be content with being booked on the next available flight; the weather isn’t your fault, but it’s not the airline’s fault either
According to the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, “contrary to the belief of some, airlines are not required to compensate passengers for damages when flights are delayed or canceled.”  This is why being courteous to airline is so important when trying to negotiate any cancelled flight benefits.

Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff, and in the big picture of things, it’s all small stuff.  Keep calm, follow these tips as to what you should do if your flight is cancelled, and be grateful for the opportunity to be able to travel at all.

Unwrapping Christmas Travel 101

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings under our belt, now is the time to start wrapping those well thought out holiday gifts.  But if you’re going to be flying, Ho-ho-hold on before you wrap them because this won’t make the airline staff very happy.
In fact, it probably won’t make you very happy either.  If you are traveling with holiday presents in your carry-on luggage, they must be unwrapped and ready for security inspection; or you can place them into your checked baggage.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still has restrictions in effect for carry-on items: possible holiday gifts that could pose a problem are jams or jellies; gift baskets with food items; perfume; alcohol; or even a snow globe.  Remember that lotions, creams, syrups, and all liquids are only allowed as a carry-on item in a 3.4 ounce (100 ml) bottle placed into one quart-size, zip-top, clear plastic bag. 
Another alternative to taking holiday presents with you (if you’ve haven’t already purchased them) is to arrive at your destination a few days early and shop with a family member upon arrival.  But if you already have those presents in hand, consider shipping them to their destination.  Another great gift idea is to purchase gift cards – easily portable, they can be matched up to your family’s favourite store and will be sure to be a success.
For more information, visit the TSA website.

Interview with Passionate Bermuda Specialist, Linda Mitchell (Part Three)

In Part Three of our interview, Travel Writer once again introduces you to Linda Mitchell - Travel Consultant, Certified Bermuda Specialist, Certified Destination Wedding Specialist, and Owner of Bermuda Travel – whose passion is all things Bermuda. 

For Part One, Mitchell covered the importance of seeking out a Bermuda Specialist when planning your island trip; in Part Two, Mitchell explained about cost, best time of the year, and accommodation options available in Bermuda.  Now, let’s talk, sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife!

Travel Writer:  What’s your personal favorite for accommodation?
Mitchell: “It is hard to choose a favorite because each property holds a charm of its own.  A good Bermuda specialist will be able to match the client with the best for their vacation plans and budget.  In the 8+ years I’ve been selling travel to Bermuda, I have never had a client unhappy with the property I recommended.  A really great track record for which I am really proud!”
Travel Writer: That’s great!  What are the must see and dos in Bermuda?  Any favorites here?
Mitchell:  “Crystal Caves are amazing!  Royal Naval Dockyard with all of its charm and the Maritime Museum, St. George’s (which is a UNESCO Site), the Aquarium, hopping on the high speed ferry to see the island by water and also taking a taxi tour as the taxi drivers are a plethora of info – they are the island’s ambassadors!  Plus golf, spa, tennis, nightlife…so much to choose from!  Oh, and be sure to see Johnny Barnes, a wonderful gent who greets commuters every morning as they drive to work. He stands at the roundabout throwing kisses and waving! What a fun way to start your day!”

Travel Writer: What are the best shopping buys on the island?
Mitchell:  “I suggest picking up local crafts at the crafts market at Dockyard, Bermuda Rum cake at the rum cake factory or beautiful hand blown glass at the glass blowing factory, all at Royal Naval Dockyard.  The local artists are extremely talented like Carol Holding and many others.  A beautiful water color will ensure that your wonderful memories flood back to you each time you look at it!”
Travel Writer: Do you have any recommendations for restaurants & nightlife?  Is there a must try Bermudian dish?
Mitchell: “There are so many wonderful dining experiences in Bermuda!  I typically will guide my clients based on what they most enjoy.  The local draws and pubs are certainly a must like the Swizzle Inn, Hog Penny Pub, and Frog and Onion.  On Friday nights there are always many wonderful happy hour happenings depending on the time of year.  Must try Bermuda dishes are for sure the Bermuda Fish Chowder, Shark Hash, and Casava Pie to name a few.  For drinks, be sure to try a Rum Swizzle or a Dark and Stormy!”
Travel Writer: Are there any events that you recommend vacationers attend?

Mitchell: “From May to September, there is a beautiful street fair on Front Street in Hamilton as well as activities all over the island during the week.  Be sure to catch a performance by the local gombey dancers as they are sure to get your hips moving!  Bermuda Day is May 24th when there is a huge fun parade down Front Street and celebrations throughout the island.  Last weekend in July is Cup Match when the island takes a 2 day holiday for the East vs. West Cricket Match!  Bermuda is the only country that does that!!  October brings on the famous Music Festival where the stars come to Bermuda to entertain and enjoy the island! There are wonderful events year round!”
Travel Writer:  Is there anything you’d like to add?
Mitchell: “Bermuda is such a wonderful exciting charming island.  You need only experience it once to fall in love!  As the song says, ‘it is truly another world.’  When you are ready to go, be sure that you grab a Bermuda Specialist to ensure that your trip is well planned out to your exact needs so that you experience all there is to offer.”
Travel Writer:  Thank you so much, Linda, for telling us about Bermuda!  Where can my readers contact you?
Mitchell:  “Thank you!  They can contact me by email, by telephone at 781.662.1953 or readers can check my website, Bermuda Travel, where I also post travel specials.  Plus, I have a new Blog where I’ll be sharing more of my insider tips on travel to Bermuda!”
Many thanks to Bermuda Specialist and enthusiast, Linda Mitchell, for providing such an in depth interview.  It’s great to have learned about the island of Bermuda plus it’s good to have cleared up the common misconception about cost.  Be sure to contact Linda with any questions you may have and tell her that Travel Writer sent you!

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Stay the Night, Splash for Free at Coco Key!

If you love water parks, this is a great time to take your family to a CoCo Key Water Resort on a quick nearcation before the holiday season gets into full swing.

CoCo Key Water Resorts is now offering a “Stay the Night and Splash for FREE” promotion whereby you can book an overnight stay (Monday through Thursday) for as low as USD $99 and receive water park access for FREE.  

This offer is valid at CoCo Key Water Resorts in Columbus and Cincinnati, OH; Omaha, NE; Kansas City, MO; Boston and Fitchburg, MA; Chicago and Rockford, IL; Waterbury, CT; and Mount Laurel, NJ until December 23, 2009.

For more information, visit CoCo Key Water Resorts.

Winter Family Fun at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Ida-ho-Ho-HO!

If you’re looking for a winter destination that will bring the whole family together, look no further than Schweitzer Mountain Resort.  Located only 15 minutes from gorgeous Sandpoint, ID, Schweitzer Mountain Resort offers family fun for everyone!

Let the high-speed lift known as Stella whisk you to 6,400 feet atop Schweitzer Mountain, where you’ll experience amazing panoramic views of three mountain ranges, three states and Canada, plus over 300 inches of snow annually. 

With 92 trails for skiing and boarding, Hermits Hollow for tubing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling and snowcat skiing with Selkirk Powder, plus snowshoeing, cross country skiing and geocaching, you’ll never run out of fun activities for the entire family at Schweitzer Mountain Resort. 

The Schweitzer Mountain Activity Center always has something going on including Nintendo Wii competitions, crafts and marshmallow roasting; while Selkirk Theater presents scheduled and upon request movies.  The Solstice Spa offers luxurious treatment options including massage and reflexology; appointments can be made through the Schweitzer Mountain Activity Center.

Schweitzer Mountain Resort offers two onsite accommodation options – the European-style Selkirk Lodge and the contemporary White Pine Lodge, plus several condo options nearby.  The quaint town of Sandpoint also offers a variety of accommodation choices with Seasons at Sandpoint as a top recommendation.

The Chimney Rock Grill serves up delicious cuisine amongst its rustic and cozy atmosphere – be sure to try the scrumptious Seafood Chowder.  The Mojo Coyote Café bakes up fresh goodies every morning while Pucci’s Pub offers a great selection of drinks, plus lunch and dinner options.

Schweitzer’s Sunday Solution is offering afternoon ½ day lift tickets for only $20 every Sunday (some blackout dates apply) for the entire 2009-2010 season.  

Check out the Schweitzer Mountain Resort webcams, follow them on Facebook or Twitter, or visit them at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

Jack Frost won’t be Nipping at your Nose in Phoenix!

As cities across the country experience frigid winters, the Greater Phoenix area experiences perpetual sunshine, blue skies and warm weather throughout December and January.
In Phoenix, you can sip Mojitos poolside, watch a colourful Sonoran Desert sunset while dining on an open-air patio or while getting pampered at one of the many spas that offer outdoor treatments.
With many world-class properties offering their lowest winter bargain rates to date, all you have to do is worry about how to spend your time, not what the weather will permit, or how far you budget will take you.

Jack Frost won’t be nipping at your nose, or your pocket book, when you book your holiday travel to Phoenix.
For more information, see VisitPhoenix where you can build your own trip or order free visitor’s guides.
(Media Release)

Top 5 Christmas Gift Ideas for your Traveler

Here are the Top 5 Christmas gift ideas for your traveler that will be sure to please!  Keeping in mind that gifts don’t always have to be expensive, thoughtfulness is really what counts in these Top 5 Christmas gift ideas for your traveler.

  1. Travel Pillow and/or Blanket – with airlines charging a premium for these amenities, the traveler in your life will love this idea; look for a pillow that will offer both neck and head support
  2. Journal – to record their thoughts, feelings, sights and sounds as they travel; look for a leather bound book that will last for many trips to come, try 'legendary' Moleskine notebooks - your traveler will appreciate it
  3. Carry-on Luggage: following current airline restrictions, your traveler will love a smaller suitcase for those carry-on items – try Heys Luggage
  4. Digital Camera – for instant lifetime memories, nothing can beat a digital camera; when shopping, look for the highest optical zoom you can afford so your traveler can focus on getting that perfect shot
  5. IPod – everyone needs one, but if your traveler already has one, maybe try a language translator, or a portable DVD player – something than can provide entertainment during a long or repeated flights

As a stocking stuffer, in addition to the Top 5 Christmas Gift ideas for your traveler, add a great guidebook – I love the Little Black Book series available at Amazon.
Happy Holidays!

Interview with Passionate Bermuda Specialist, Linda Mitchell (Part Two)

Travel Writer once again introduces you to Linda Mitchell - Travel Consultant, Certified Bermuda Specialist, Certified Destination Wedding Specialist, and Owner of Bermuda Travel – whose passion is all things Bermuda.

In Part One of our interview, Mitchell talked about the importance of seeking out a Bermuda Specialist when planning your island trip; in upcoming Part Three, she'll cover sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife!

Q. Travel Writer:  Who travels to Bermuda?
A. Mitchell: “Everyone and anyone that wants to have a fabulous time!  Bermuda is perfect for families, weddings, honeymooners, corporate groups…anyone looking for a fun getaway! Beautiful beaches, great spas, gorgeous golf courses, fun things to see and visit, wonderful dining and nightlife, too - something for everyone!!  It is also a fun destination for bachelor and bachelorette parties as well, since 2 days there on a weekend does not consist of all travel time like the points south do.”
Q. Travel Writer:  What’s the best time of year to travel to Bermuda?

A. Mitchell:  “Every time of the year offers a wonderful experience.  May to October are the warmer months while November to April are a bit more moderate as this is a sub-tropical island.  So the warmer months are beach and sizzle while the more moderate months are fabulous for the incredible golf and spa!  Bermuda has 8 wonderful golf courses on its 26 square miles!  Port Royal, which is a public course, has just received a multi-million dollar upgrade and was the home of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf this year.”
Q. Travel Writer: Any special event times to travel?
A. Mitchell: “I have been on island a few times for New Year’s Eve and it is a wonderful way to bring in the New Year!  The mild temperatures are soothing to the soul after the busy holidays for anyone coming from colder climate.  Valentine’s Day is another special time! Such a romantic place to be! The Bermuda International Love Festival is a popular event held Valentine’s Day weekend!”
Q. Travel Writer:  What types of accommodations are offered in Bermuda?

A. Mitchell: “Bermuda has so many wonderful accommodations to suit any traveler’s tastes, from small apartment style units within a hotel style setting to traditional B&BS to small traditional cottage style hotels to resort hotels.  There are now even condo style units within a hotel setting which is part of the new fractional ownership trend.  These are great for families as well as guests that want to have more than a hotel room to relax in.”
Q. Travel Writer: Is it possible to purchase airfare only and then to find accommodations once you are there, or do you recommend always booking a package?
A. Mitchell: “With the arrival of JetBlue Airways, the other airline’s fares became as competitive.  So I suggest shopping for airfare separately or using frequent flyer miles.  Many of the hotels have specials and some of the smaller hotels do not participate in vacation package deals.  However, sometimes packages can be a good deal as well!  Working with a specialist ensures you the best rates as they can check packages as well as directly with the hotel.”
Q. Travel Writer: Do you recommend booking a hotel in Bermuda upon arrival?
A. Mitchell: “I do not suggest trying to get a hotel when you arrive.  I do suggest consulting a specialist as this way when you arrive on island you are at a property that fully suits your requirements for your trip.  Also, you will be in the location that also suits your vacation.”       
Q. Travel Writer:  But isn’t Bermuda expensive?

A. Mitchell:  “Bermuda has options for every budget.  There is a huge misconception that Bermuda is more expensive than other destinations.  They do not have a strong focus on all inclusive properties like other destinations but that is because they have so many wonderful options for dining and because you do not need to stay on your resort the entire vacation.  The island of Bermuda is your resort!!  You can choose any of the price ranges for meals, similar to any city anywhere!”
Q. Travel Writer: So what are the price ranges?  Can you do Bermuda on a budget?
A. Mitchell: “There is a huge variety of price ranges that could start as low as $150.00 depending on availability.  Being at a resort or on a beach setting will be higher.  There is not a bad location to stay since Bermuda is just 26 square miles in size.
Q. Travel Writer: What area do you recommend staying in Bermuda?
A. Mitchell:  “I personally love to stay in Hamilton when I want to be able to walk to town for restaurants, nightlife and shopping!  Since Hamilton is located on the gorgeous harbour, you are still enjoying the water and actually there is so much wonderful activity to enjoy on the harbour!  There are some new properties in Bermuda in the last few years.  A few are the New Tucker’s Point Hotel and Spa which is amazing and Newstead Belmont Hills which is Superb! It is one of the new fractional ownership properties.”

In Part Three of our interview series, Mitchell tells us about her personal favorites for accommodation, nightlife, and not-to-be missed events.  Feel free to contact Mitchell in the mean time by email or by telephone at 781.662.1953 or readers can visit her website, Bermuda Travel, where travel specials and her blog are posted.

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Boutique Weekend at the Montvale Hotel

Art deco, romance, elegance, what more could a girl want!  How about an in-room fireplace, French doors, and luxurious bedding?! The Montvale Hotel in Spokane, WA, is all that, and more.

With its turn of the century charm, the Montvale Hotel is located in the vibrant heart of downtown Spokane, only mere minutes away from fantastic shopping, restaurants, theaters, and nightlife - everything that Spokane has to offer is at your doorstep.

With only 36 intimate rooms and suites, the best bargain to be had, by far, is the Montvale Hotel’s Weekend Package rate at USD $169.  Consisting of a one night’s stay in a deluxe room, dinner for two at Catacomb’s Pub ($30 value), two AMC Theater movie passes ($20 value), free valet parking ($15), and full Continental Breakfast ($20 value) – with $85 in value added services, this reduces the room to an amazing $84!

For more information about “Spokane’s premier boutique hotel” or to make reservations, visit the Montvale Hotel or call 1-86-MONTVALE or (509) 747-1919.

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.