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Category Archives: Hotel and Resort

Zero Waste Road Trip

Road trips can happen hourly or several days depending on the level of satisfaction an individual or family or friends want to experience. Trips that involve family or friends are more fun and enjoyable.

For a perfect experience, planning is not an exception. Planning is an important part to consider for anyone expecting to have some good time. It facilitates a smooth transition of events and helps minimize time and money wastage.

Tips to Minimizing Waste on a Road Trip:
1. Set your priorities right. Expectations about time and expenses to be incurred on food and hotels should be put into considerations and seen that the right measures have been taken to avoid inconveniences during the trip.

2. Compost management. Do not forget to put into consideration on the means of food scraps and waste handling during the travel. Improvise a large sealable container to facilitate food remains disposal. Make sure the container is properly sealed with a towel cloth to avoid stench filling up your car and end up ruining your road trip.

3. Pack food and snacks. This not only helps in cutting down expenses but also gives you the opportunity to pack a wide variety of favorite homemade snacks to indulge on as you enjoy your road trip.

4. Prepare map routes and directions, especially if unfamiliar routes and long distances are involved. With today’s technology, it has been made easier accessing maps and directions using mobile gadgets.

5. Booking and making relevant reservations ahead of time. It gives one a sound and relaxed mind during the vacation knowing that at some point there is a relaxing point awaiting you.

6. Plan for stops. Stop overs give you a chance to unwind as you look forward to enjoy the rest of the trip.

Family Vacation Resorts Guide

Resorts that offer free, fun activities for the entire family will help you save money since you won’t have to go out as much. Don’t forget about your own enjoyment. The best all-inclusive family vacation resorts have programs that will give the adults a bit of space as well. They offer more than just standard daycare, but fun camps tailored to kids in various age groups, each with its very own facility.

Don’t forget about airfare when looking for family vacation deals. While airlines usually let kids fly for free or at a discount rate, you don’t want to spend a fortune on your own airfare. Check and see if there are any airfare + hotel combo discounts available. Also, if you need to rent a van or SUV, look for vacation packages that include a discount on car rentals.

Want to stay in warm weather near an exotic beach? Or visit snow capped mountains at a ski lodge? There are some really fun ranches that offer horseback riding and hiking activities. A lot of cruise lines offer fun programs for kids. If you can afford it, an African Safari will be both a fun and educational experience for both you and your children.

Ideas for Family Vacation Resorts

Here is a list of some of the best family vacation resorts in the world:

• The Ranch – Emerald Valley, CO

• Skytop Lodge, PA

• Coconut Bay Beach Resort and Spa in St. Lucia

• Ocean Blue and Sand, Punta Cana

• Rancho de los Caballeros, AZ

• Lewa Safari Camp, Kenya

• Hideout Lodge & Guest Ranch, WY

• Snowshoe Mountain Resort – Snowshoe, WV

• South Seas Island Resort – Captiva Island, FL

• Wyndham Reef Resort – Cayman Islands

• Club Med Pragelato Vialattea, Italy

These are just some of the best – there are many other great resorts and hotels out there that offer fun for the entire family.

Do a bit of research on all of the family vacation resorts you are interested in and compare prices.

Skiing Trip of a Lifetime

Supposing you don’t have a rich, philanthropist friend who will buy you first class tickets, you will have to start saving up well ahead of your intended departure date. Trail the internet for the best flight deals and try to be flexible with your dates, as off-season periods as well as mid-week flights are usually more affordable. Remember that everyone else will take their holidays in the week between Christmas and New Year, so be prepared for high prices, full flights, expensive accommodation, long lines at the ski lifts and roaming the mountains with all of mankind. Take the accessibility from the airport to your destination into account as well because even though you may have scored a cheap ticket; if your destination is far from the airport you may just be in for an expensive surprise.

For finding accommodation, you’ll have to shop around online as well. Try to focus on finding a discounted ski-and-stay deal. This should not be difficult to find as ski resorts often offer packages like these to boost their occupancy rate during off-peak travel periods. Scrutinise travellers’ reviews online so that you get the accommodation you pay for. Most ski destinations also have affordable backpacker’s or hostels which may be a great option if you’re travelling on a tight(er) budget.

Once you are settled into your accommodation on the mountain you will have to find out where to go. Use the first day to explore the mountain and to chat to the skiing die-hards for useful information. Usually there are some on-mountain hosts at the top by the ski lifts who will be able to give you some general information but don’t expect any tips that haven’t already been given to all the other skiers out there. The locals will be a better bet as they can show you the real epic spots. Ask them for good slopes that are not located on the trail maps so you can enjoy some awesome skiing in peace and quiet. Tip: the best time and place to chat to the locals is in the evening during après ski.

The term that was coined by the French, perfected by the Austrians and subsequently adored by skiers from all over the globe is synonymous with good times and makes for epic memories. Après ski sessions can be enjoyed on a gorgeous deck overlooking the mountains or at a hole-in-the-wall joint somewhere stashed away in a basement. No matter where you’ll be, après ski evenings are the perfect opportunity to warm those cold, stiff limbs, tell tall stories and make awesome new friends.

With the tips in this article you will be equipped with the most important information you need to get your ski adventure off to a good start. The remaining details you will have to figure out along the way. Be sure to create fantastic memories and you may just become one of those die-hards that will come back for more chilled fun year after year.

Plan the Perfect Family Ski Holiday

Decide on a destination

Once you’ve decided on the dates, how many people you’ll be travelling with and what their individual levels of experience are, start browsing online for the best ski resorts. If you and your family will be skiing for the first time or if you have young children, make sure you choose a resort which has ski areas for beginners with wide open terrain that is not too crowded. Enquire whether they have their own, dedicated ski lifts that are easily accessible and safe for children. Many ski resorts offer discounted package deals during off-season periods which typically include accommodation, tickets for the ski lifts, lessons and equipment rental.

Put together an itinerary for the family

Planning and scheduling activities ahead will be very useful. Evening activities as well as where you will be having your meals are good things to plan in advance. Especially the more popular ski resorts will be quite booked up so making reservations before your arrival will be a good idea. Keep in mind that most young children tire easily after only a few hours on the slopes while teenagers will probably be on the mountain first thing in the morning and the last ones to come back, so some planning is advisable. You could, for instance, enrol your younger ones in a kids-camp to keep them busy with various activities so that the adults and teenagers in the group can ski full days.

Ski equipment and clothes

Although you won’t find many shops in South Africa that stock ski equipment and clothes, there are a few and it may save you substantially to buy (at least some) ski gear instead of renting them at your destination where you’ll pay much higher prices for the convenience. Items that you will need are:

· Skis

· Ski boots

· Ski poles

· Helmets for kids

· A few turtlenecks and jerseys

· Scarves

· Long (thermal) underwear

· Ski socks

· Ski hats

· Ski pants

· Ski jackets

· Mittens for children

· Ski gloves for adults

· Ski goggles / sport sunglasses

· High-factor sunscreen lotion and lip balm

Make sure you pack some clothes for après ski and other activities such as shopping or excursions. Swimsuits as well as flip-flops will come in handy when you want to make use of the resort’s indoor pool or hot tubs.

Discount Travel Deals

A lot of hotel deals are limited and only apply if you meet certain criteria, such as booking for a specific number of days. It’s a good idea to sign up for travel discount emails and newsletters so that you will receive details about the latest offers. Some smartphone apps even alert you the second a good deal pops up.

Another way to save money is to travel off-season. This, of course, varies depending on the location since the weather plays an important role in tourism. During major holidays like Christmas and New Year’s, the costs associated with travel will always be higher no matter what.

Don’t forget about ground transportation when looking for discount travel deals. If you plan on staying at your destination for several days, consider renting a car at a location away from the airport, as car rental offices at airports tend to charge higher rates. In some instances, you would pay two or even three times as much for the same car at the airport.

The number of deals offered by budget airline companies is increasing all the time. If US travelers want to fly internationally, Norwegian and WOW Airlines are good places to start your search. For domestic flights, look into Allegiant Air, JetBlue, Sun Country, Frontier Airlines, etc. It might also help to consider multiple stops before making it to your intended destination. Flying direct isn’t always the cheapest option. Look into flights with connections – flexibility is a money saver in the travel industry.

To save on a hotel, check for last minute deals. You can also find discounts on rooms that other travelers have cancelled. Waiting until the last minute to book your room could help you save as much as 60%. The downside is that there is no guarantee that you will get a room if you want too long to book. If you can’t find discount travel deals on airfare and don’t mind a bit of risk, this may be worth looking into. If your destination is a popular tourist spot or major city, there will likely be available rooms somewhere up until the very last second.

Ski Vacation Destination

Take time to review various ski destinations. Whether you are a beginner or a pro in the sport, make it a point to check statistics of ski resorts you are interested to visit. Your targeted ski vacation destination should be able to give accurate and reliable information on the current situation of the resort and its surrounding area, the base snow, as well as percentage trails for different levels of skiers. A good ski resort should also offer ski programs and must also guarantee full support and assistance.

Once you have chosen your destination, secure a lift ticket in advance. These tickets are usually available and purchased online at a much lower price compared to onsite buying.

Next, carefully pick a ski area. Bear in mind that ski vacations are never the same. If you are still a newbie in the sport, see to it that you pick a ski resort that provides and coordinates all the logistics required. Ideally, beginners should deal with resorts that offer expert instructions on getting your lift tickets and whatever rental equipment needed.

Start small and work your way up. For beginners, be honest and humble enough to acknowledge that you are still learning the ropes. Never attempt to scale top-level ski resorts that are full of advanced skier trails. Instead, set your way to smaller mountains that offer countless trails for beginner skiers.

Smaller ski resorts feature dedicated areas for new skiers. These tend to be less crowded than larger resorts and offer beginners better and smoother ski trips. Smaller resorts also provide better parking spots and less hassle when taking the shuttle to the slopes. Ski vacationers on smaller resorts also enjoy much shorter waits for ski lifts as well as shorter lines for lunch in the ski lodge.

Expert skiers can always opt for ski vacations that offer advanced terrain. These advanced trails are typical in larger ski resorts that offer a plenty of trails for beginners, intermediates, and experts.

Biggest Ski Resort in the USA

Ski resort operating giant Vail resorts took over Park City, after it was already running next door Canyons ski resort. These 2 fantastic ski resorts are being combined to make one giant ski resort called Park City Mountain Resort. Major investment is adding a new “interconnect” gondola to connect the 2 resorts between the Silverlodge lift in Park City & the Flatiron Lift at Canyons. In addition to this new lift there will be major upgrades to Kingcon chairlift changing it to a 6 person high-speed detachable chair & increasing capacity. The Motherlode lift is being upgraded to a 4 person high-speed detachable lift from the old fixed grip chairlift, making it much easier to access the slopes.

From the new interconnect gondola it will be possible for skiers & riders to unload at the top of Pine Cone Ridge (snow conditions permitting) & ski or board down to Thaynes Canyon. There are also going to be new runs from Pine Cone Ridge down to the Canyons Iron mountain area.

So if you love skiing there will be so much to ski at this one mountain. The new ski resort will have 7300 acres of terrain, bigger than Vail and have a great variety of runs from green beginner, through to blue intermediate pistes & black expert areas. The total combined lifts will stretch for nearly 23 miles & the vertical rise will amount to 34,400 feet. Altogether there will be 17 peaks to swoop down, after checking out the views from the top of course. The 14 bowls will be paradise in the powder & after all this area of Utah, USA does get 355 inches of snowfall on average per year, so chances of some epic freshies are high. Over 300 ski runs will be marked & over 150 park features for those who love to strut their stuff in the terrain parks. 8 half-pipes including the super pipe will also be ideal for those who love to get big air.

The whole resort is being called Park City Mountain Resort and will still be connected to the Town of Park City & historic Main Street via the Town lift. The old canyons village is being re-named canyons base area at Park City, but the ski runs rising out of the village will all be part of Park City Mountain Resort.

Visiting Vancouver in the Winter

When snow does fall in Vancouver it is unusual for it to remain around on the ground for more than a day. Usually the city can expect just a hand full of days in the entire year where there will be snow on the ground. Again, this is not like other Canadian cities where you can get knee deep in snow after a storm, we’re talking more like a centimeter or two. If you do find yourself in Vancouver in a snow day on your visit consider yourself lucky and enjoy the added beauty to this already spectacular city.

The best part of winter in Vancouver is not that it stays above freezing for the most part, but rather that you can drive up into the surrounding mountains from the city be in a winter wonderland within minutes. The neighboring Coastal Mountains on the North Shore will get their share of snow over the winter season and provide a picturesque backdrop to the cityscape especially after a fresh snowfall. The local mountains, as they are called by Vancouverites, have many resorts to ski, snowshoe, ice skate or just enjoy a fireside view looking back on the city. Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain and Seymour Mountain are the most well known but there are smaller lifts and plenty to explore up that way.

Beyond the Coastal Mountains on through to Squamish and Whistler are larger mountains and resorts that offer event more terrain to explore and activities. Driving up there would be hours as opposed to minutes but the drive on the Sea to Sky Highway is as spectacular as any in the world, especially with the snow capped peaks along the way. Whistler is the world famous destination but Squamish is up and coming and certainly worth checking out.

The Interior of British Columbia and the mountain passes you travel through to get there also give you that real Canadian snowy winter experience. The unique part about the Interior is that he snow is very dry. Temperatures in the winter months are typically much lower than the coast so you will get persistent snow conditions through the winter months. The benefit of traveling up this way in the winter is that you can ski the famous champagne powder that is very light and very deep. Along with the many ski resorts that scatter the area you can find heli-skiing and cat-skiing companies to take you on your memorable BC adventure. Lakes will freeze in the Interior as well so there is plenty of ice skating and if you are lucky you can join a real Canadian pastime playing hockey outside with some of the locals.

If you travel to Vancouver Island during the winter you can expect weather conditions similar to what you would find in Vancouver. They do have some mountains with elevation that will be snow but the ski resorts are fairly limited and do not really stack up to the ones you would find on the mainland. The winter activity that is unique to the island is the storm watching that you can experience on the west side facing the open Pacific Ocean. You can rent a cabin right on the beach and watch huge storm systems roll in off while remaining comfortable, cozy and dry snuggled up fireside. This activity has actually become very popular in recent years as luxury lodges are catering to romantic getaways planned around some of nature’s most impressive displays of power and beauty.

Cheap Getaways Info Guide

• Want to go out of the country for a few days? Consider flying with budget carriers like WOW Air and Norwegian Air. Even though the latter is based in Europe, it’s now offering low-cost rates from US airports to other places in the world – including the Caribbean. Its rates are so cheap that it’s forcing some top US airlines to drop their international fares in order to compete.

• Plan your meals ahead of time. Look for a hotel that offers free breakfast. Do research on the cheapest restaurants nearest to the hotel you plan to stay at, and what kinds of meals they offer. Doing this will help you plan your budget before you even leave. Another option is to simply head to the nearest affordable grocery store on your first day at the hotel or inn and buy your own food. Most hotel rooms have a microwave and small fridge at the very least. If you cook your own meals, you won’t have to worry about tips.

• Make a list of the top places you want to go and sign up to receive alerts whenever there are cheap getaways to any of those locations. Some travel alert apps and tools even allow you to specify a budget and will filter the results of the newest offers so that you see the packages that don’t exceed your specified budget.

If you simply love to travel and want to get away for a few days, it’s a good idea to keep up with the hottest tourist spots for some ideas on where to go.

Some Ideas for Cheap Getaways

Right now, some of the most affordable getaways in the US include:

• Grand Canyon

• Las Vegas

• Tucson

• Williamsburg

• San Antonio

• Memphis

• Salt Lake City

Some affordable international getaways include:

• Bali, Indonesia

• Mazatlan, Mexico

• Chile

• Morocco

• Cape Town, South Africa

• Crete

No matter what you’re looking for in a vacation, you can count on cheap getaways being available to suit your tastes (and budget)!

Get a Russian Tourist Visa

Russian Website St. Petersburg Guide

I used St. Petersburg Guide for $19.99 USD per person with fast turnaround service in a couple of days. I then went to the Russian Consulate website for my area in the USA and filled out the Russian visa application form. After following all the instructions and filling out the forms, I sent my application off along with the $193 fee in a cashiers check. Seven days later I picked up my passport in person with the visa page inserted and was ready to go to Russia!

Allow Enough Time

I did this about 2 months in advance of my travel.

I got a tourist visa which is valid for only up to 30 days. The dates you state on your visa application must be within that time frame. For example, I picked July 15 to August 15 as my dates of travel but actually arrived on July 18th and left on August 3rd. They are strict about not wanting the traveler to enter BEFORE the initial date stated, nor can you leave AFTER the date stated.

Get Your Migration Card Upon Arrival in Russia

Once you enter the borders you will get a migration card. It is a little piece of paper that fits inside your passport. (Don’t lose it!) You use that migration card to register within 7 days of your arrival. They are strict about that too. Usually your hotel can do this service for free. But in my case, I had rented an apartment from Airbnb.com so I was able to use the services of St. Petersburg guide again.

St. Petersburg Guide arranged to go to the Post Office to obtain the stamp and bring the card to me. This was most helpful as I don’t speak Russian proficiently and didn’t want to stand in a line all day. I agreed to meet Max, the liaison, at the local Starbucks to retrieve my card. It was as simple as that.