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Some Very Cool Hotels You’ve Never Seen In The US

October 19, 2014 in post then categories by admin


By: Matt Meltzer


Unless your name happens to be Arthur Fonzarelli (in which case, that’s crazy!), it’s hard to define the word “cool.” And even harder to apply the label to hotels, when “cool” could mean historic, or trendy, or that the place is actually a decommissioned Coast Guard helicopter with a full-service bar… in your room!

But since we’re not above doing hard work, we tried to figure out just how each state would define cool, and then applied that spirit to their hotels. In the end, we came up with what we think is each state’s coolest, most emblematic hotel. Or we were wildly off. You decide.




The Battle House Renaissance Hotel & Spa
Mobile, AL

With a badass name like The Battle House, you’d assume this place was some sort of Confederate headquarters during the Civil War. Turns out that while the historic hotel was indeed open during the war, it got the name from its founder, a guy named James Battle. Mildly disappointing, indeed, but it doesn’t make this spot — where Stephen Douglas stayed when Lincoln whipped him in the election of 1858 — any less awesome; the interior will make you feel like you’ve time-traveled back 150 years.



Ultima Thule Lodge
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, AK

It’s Alaska, so you know we’re not gonna tell you about some swanky joint in Anchorage with a killer brunch buffet. No, we’re gonna tell you about this luxury lodge that’s 100 miles from the nearest road, and only accessible by private plane. Here you’ll sit in the middle of the largest swath of protected land on the planet; you’ll hike, fish, and boat while your hosts spend the day cooking an epic meal that you’ll eat in a dining room full of oversized chairs, before retreating to your private, hillside cabin.



Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court 
Bisbee, AZ

A lot of hotels will claim to “transport you back to another time,” but as soon as you flip on the TV and Real Housewives comes on, you become painfully aware it’s still 2014. Not so at this vintage trailer park, where not only have they adorned every trailer in perfect 1950s kitsch, but the radios only play music from that era, the TVs are black and white, and there’s nothing to read but words printed on old newspaper rife with cigarette ads. But don’t let the ads fool you; the only 21st-century advent at Shady Dell is a strict non-smoking policy.



Beckham Creek Cave Lodge
Parthenon, AR

Don’t try to sound all “back-to-nature” when you tell friends you’re unleashing your inner caveman by staying in this lodge built into a real cave in the Ozarks. The place is actually a full-on house complete with Jacuzzi, five master bedrooms, satellite TV, and, oh yeah, a heliport. That’s one big cave. Obviously, Beckham Creek’s a popular spot for weddings, events, and celebrities who don’t want anyone to know they’re in Arkansas.



The Queen Mary
Long Beach, CA

We’re not really sure what else to say about this other than IT’S THE QUEEN FREAKING MARY. As in, the most famous cruise ship ever that didn’t crash into an iceberg. Yeah, that Queen Mary. And while this trans-Atlantic luxury liner from a bygone era now makes its permanent home in the LBC, it’s also a 346-room luxury hotel complete with a spa, shopping, and first-rate gym.



The Stanley Hotel
Estes Park, CO

Colorado’s got plenty of luxurious mountain resorts, but there’s only one so awesome it inspired Stephen King to write 200,000 words about it. This spot (named for the same guy who founded Stanley Steamer) is the hotel from The Shining, and while you might not run into a bartender who tells you to kill your family, there are enough rumored ghost stories in this place to make it a bonafide haunted landmark.



Litchfield Hills, CT

Try not to get the theme from Airwolf stuck in your head (because it will, GOD it will) when you check into this 118-acre resort in rural Connecticut, because of all their 18 themed cottages, the one you’re 100 percent going to stay in is the fully-restored 1968 Sea King Pelican HH3F helicopter. If somehow that’s not your thing, there’s also a log cabin, a treehouse, a greenhouse, and even something called the “secret society.”

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Absolutely Everyone You Need to Tip While Traveling

October 19, 2014 in post then categories by admin

By: Sophie-Claire Hoeller


It’s probably safe to say the idea of tipping the flight attendant has never crossed your mind, but apparently a whopping 30 percent of flyers have done it. How do you feel now, cheapskate?

While tipping in restaurants is a fairly black and white (albeit highly divisive) issue, the rules get blurred on vacation. Suddenly, there are outstretched hands everywhere, and you have no idea with whom to leave your money. The guy scrambling eggs? Really?

In an effort to make your next airport shuttle ride considerably less awkward, we asked national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, Diane Gottsman, exactly who we should be tipping, and how much. And here’s what she said:

1. Skycaps

$1-$2 per bag. Unless you’re checking in curbside, in which case it’s $5 for one bag, $3 to $5 for each additional bag.

2. Host(ess)/Maitre D’

You don’t typically tip a hostess, but if they reserve you that special table overlooking the hibachi chef who also makes tableside guac — definitely slip ’em $10-$20.

More: What The Amount You Tip Says About You


Credit: Shutterstock

3. Flight attendants

Don’t tip them. They get paid a salary, and they’re not working for a gratuity or relying on tips to pay their rent.

4. Taxi driver

A minimum of 10-15 percent is average. Twenty percent and above for a driver who assists you with your heavy luggage.

5. Limo/town car driver

Some car companies include gratuity, but if you had a smooth ride and want to leave a favorable impression for the return trip home, feel free to throw them a little something extra. If a gratuity is not built in, tip 15-20 percent of the fare.

6. Shuttle driver

$1-$2 per person, depending on how much they assist with your bags.


7. Hotel doorman

There’s no tip required for a smile and a held door. However, if they perform a special service such as helping carry shopping bags from the taxi to the front desk, or holding an umbrella from the front door to the car, think about $2-$5.

8. Hotel bellman

Generally, $1-$2 per bag. Although, if you’re asking the bellman to lug your one Eddie Bauer duffle bag up to the 23rd floor, make it worth his trip and give him $5.

9. Hotel valet

$2-$5 when you pick up your car.




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How to Book Two Trips for the Price of One

October 19, 2014 in post then categories by admin

  One of the best arguments for using miles instead of cash to book your flights is that the routing rules are so much more flexible for award travel. Many loyalty programsallow you to add connections, stopovers and open jaws to your itinerary — meaning you can combine multiple trips into a single award. Don’t forget you can start your Travel search here at 

Using miles is frustrating for many travelers due to limited availability, and these tricks can make that puzzle more complicated. Most airlines’ search tools are designed to find simple round-trip awards. It will be your responsibility to find award availability and piece together the complete itinerary, which might then require calling an agent to book. But you should feel comfortable attempting these strategies knowing they are well within most programs’ official rules.


Use stopovers to visit cities along the way
The easiest way to visit more cities on a single trip is to add free layovers and stopovers. Stopovers are connections that exceed four hours on domestic itineraries or 24 hours on international itineraries. Anything shorter than that is a layover. You can have as many layovers as you want, and even leave the airport for a brief tour of the connecting destination. Some cities, such as ZurichHong Kong and Singapore, offer convenient transit options to the city center. Stopovers are more restricted, but you can spend several days or weeks in a city before you continue onward to your final destination.

Each airline has its own rules for stopovers. For example, Alaska Airlines permits a stopover on one-way awards — even for domestic travel — but United Airlines only allows a single stopover for international travel booked as part of a round-trip itinerary. But in general, all carriers require that travel be complete within 330 days of the original booking date, and visa limits may apply for any international city you visit.

Award travel is typically priced according to the geographic regions of your origin and destination, and going out of your way to make extra stops doesn’t usually cost extra. Some carriers are particularly generous by, for example, allowing travel from North America to Asia via Europe. Combined with a stopover, that would allow someone inNew York to add a free trip to Paris as part of an existing trip to Bangkok.

Use open jaws to return to a second destination
Carriers tend to be more flexible with open jaws than stopovers. An open jaw refers to “returning” to a different city than the one you departed from. It can also mean returning from a different city than the one in which you arrived. It gets its name from the gap created when you draw the itinerary on a map: Instead of a closed loop, the angle looks like an open jaw. Assuming you want to return to your home airport, it’s a great way to explore a destination by land without returning to the exact city where you started (a tour of Europe, for example).


Combine rules for “free” one-way flights
Combining stopovers with an open jaw creates interesting opportunities. You’re not necessarily required to use a free stopover at your destination. Some people instead choose to stop at their home airport — or depending on the award rules, another airport nearby. (They still get to fly home from their destination, except that in the context of this itinerary “home” is really just a stop on a longer return journey.)

Imagine creating an open jaw itinerary to AsiaSan Francisco is the origin, Shanghai is the destination, but you know you need to go travel New York a month later. That return journey from Shanghai can be arranged to include a stopover in San Francisco, moving the actual “return city” to New York. After returning from Shanghai to San Francisco, you can head home for a month before you go back to the airport and continue on to New York for the second journey at no extra cost.

You would still need to book a one-way flight back home from New York to San Francisco, but many domestic fares are priced on a one-way basis anyway. You’ve saved half the cost of your future New York visit by planning ahead.

Nest awards to create complex itineraries
Stopovers and open jaws create opportunities to nest one award ticket within another. Cities that see infrequent service, such as Siem Reap, Cambodia, may have limited or no service depending on the network of airline partners available. As a result, it might make more sense to book an additional ticket, either paying cash or as a second award.

Consider a round-trip from San Francisco to Bali via Bangkok using miles from United Airlines. (You could be flying any of United’s partners and making additional connections as needed.) Bali is the destination, but Bangkok can be added as your one free stopover. Now you’ve got a chance to visit two destinations for the price of one. You can add a third destination by booking a round-trip fare on a discount carrier — in this case, Bangkok Airways from Bangkok to Siem Reap. In this scenario, you would fly to Bangkok, see the sights, and return to the airport. But you would fly to Siem Reap on a different ticket before flying back to Bangkok and continuing the original journey to Bali.

These tricks don’t work on every airline. American Airlines recently changed its rules to prohibit stopovers even though their policies weren’t very generous to begin with. British Airways prices its awards separately for every individual segment, so it’s impossible to game the system.

For the programs that allow it, however, such rules can add exceptional value to your frequent flier miles. It’s not as simple as saying that one program charges more miles than another for a given award. Sometimes a few extra miles are well worth the added flexibility in deciding where you stop along the way.


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