Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, April 2010 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2010
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Sterling Silver Circle Pendent
The 30 mm sterling circle pendent is nearly 1 1/4 inch wide with a pave finish to make it look like small diamonds line the circle.
The back of the pendent is clad in yellow 18K yellow gold overlay while the front remains sterling silver. The necklace is finished off with an 18-inch sterling silver box-like chain clad in the same 18K yellow gold overlay. Comes in a black faux-leather gift box.
Priced at $75. Our price $24.95.
Order from AAA Jewelry Outlet. Click here to order.
|In This Issue: |
Grand Sierra Resort & Casino, Reno, NV
|Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre, in Port of Spain, Trinidad , reveals its latest phase of a multimillion dollar make over with 418 renovated rooms, a new executive lounge, a coffeehouse, and 24 hour business center. To celebrate, Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre offers a limited time deal to experience the hotel's newest facilities.
Stay at the renovated Trinidad hotel through Aug. 31, 2010 and save up to 25 percent off regular rates and receive free amenities. To take advantage of this offer, make reservations before Apr. 30, 2010 and stay before Aug. 31, 2010. The offer and rate are subject to availability and do not include taxes, resort fees, gratuities or incidental charges. There is a minimum stay of two nights and a one night deposit is required at the time of reservation. Other restrictions apply. Request the Welcome Back special or offer code P2.
Discounted rates start at $149 per night, based on double occupancy, the offer includes: Accommodation in a renovated room, welcome drink, special in-room amenity on arrival, free internet access and a 15 percent discount at all hotel operated dining outlets.
As a bonus, the first 100 guests who reserve this special offer will also receive one free lunch for two at the Pool Terrace Garden Restaurant.
In addition to the 418 renovated rooms, including 75 executive rooms, 27 suites, and five accessible rooms, all rooms feature a glass enclosed bath with rainfall and hand-held shower, private balcony with garden or city views, high speed internet access, free coffee and tea facilities, alarm clock with MP3 connection, in-room safe, and 42" high-definition LCD television. Suites offer a lounge area, mini-kitchen with microwave and a work station. Executive rooms and suites have access to the new executive lounge, with free continental breakfast and evening beverages.
These latest renovations are part of a multimillion dollar refurbishment plan. The final phase of the renovation will be unveiled later in 2010 and will include a new poolside gazebo bar & grill, and 5,000 square foot fitness center with treatment rooms and sauna.
Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre or 877/GO-HILTON.
Icelandair Build Your Own Vacation Package
|BOOK BY APR. 15 - - Icelandair offers a "Build Your Own Vacation" package to Iceland from New York and Boston from $579 per person, based on double occupancy. The rate includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip airport/hotel transfers, two nights' hotel stay with breakfast and a free Norden Voyager Discount Card when booked by Apr. 15, 2010.
Icelandair, the flagship carrier of Iceland since 1937, offers service to Iceland from Boston, New York, Seattle, and seasonal service from Minneapolis, Orlando, Halifax and Toronto. Connections through Icelandair's hub at Keflavik International Airport are available to more than 20 destinations in Scandinavia, the U.K. and Europe. Only Icelandair allows you a stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.
Iceland's location enables Icelandair to offer the shortest, most direct flight route across the North Atlantic.
Keflavik International Airport was named the best airport in Europe by the Airport Council International (ACI) in a September 2009 Airports Service Quality survey. With approximately 130 airports involved, the ACI survey is the world's leading index for airport customer satisfaction ratings. Passengers describe Keflavik International Airport as comforting, cozy and having a friendly atmosphere. Travelers like the airport's duty free stores and value shopping.
Icelandair or 877/I-FLY-ICE.
If browsing Mediterranean ports, dining, activities and entertainment fit your idea of an affordable vacation, consider Fred. Olsen Cruises.
With rates from $117 per night, plus a $120 on board spending credit per cabin, Fred. Olsen Cruises' 14-night "Splendors of Spain" (L1017) itinerary on the 1,350-passenger Balmoral will meet your expectations. Port charges and taxes are included in the price.
The vessel departs Dover on Oct. 12, 2010, and stops at Menorca, Marseille, Barcelona, Alicante, and Malaga before returning to England. Special rates begin at less than $117 per night; an inside cabin costs $1,632 per person, based on double occupancy. Rates for an outside cabin, and outside cabin with balcony, cost $1,962 and $2,820 per person based on double occupancy, respectively. An inside single cabin starts at $2,787.
The Fred. Olsen cruise experience includes evening shows, fitness classes, dancing, bridge, dining and lectures. Kilts and eveningwear make formal nights a gala experience.
The 23-night "Mysteries of the Ancients" (L1018) cruise on the Balmoral departs Oct. 26 from Dover. This culture-rich cruise is part of Fred. Olsen's Artsclub signature collection with themes such as gardening, wine tasting and antique collection. Ports of call include Gibraltar, Cagliari (Italy), Kalamata (Greece), Piraeus/Athens (Greece), Volos (Greece), Izmir (Turkey), Bodrum (Turkey), Antalya (Turkey), Rhodes (Greece), Valletta (Malta), Cadiz (Spain), and Lisbon (Portugal). Rates start at $121 per night plus a $245 on board spending credit per cabin. Prices for an inside, outside and balcony cabin are $2,771, $2,968, and $4,585 per person based on double occupancy, respectively. An inside single cabin starts at $2,770.
Sought after for its small ship cruising, relaxed British atmosphere and worldwide itineraries Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines operates four ships small enough to visit destinations unreachable by larger ships.
Minneapolis-based Borton Overseas is the US reseller for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
Borton Overseas or 800/843-0602.
In Los Angeles, summer means free outdoor summer concerts are in full force, inviting you to enjoy LA's music scene. From shows to Sunday afternoons in the park, the following free summer series will keep your toes a tapping.
Summer music at Farmers Market: It's all about jazz and family fun at this annual summer music series. Combine great food from LA's original farmers market with groups performing Latin jazz, country swing, funk jazz and more. Thursdays and Fridays through September.
Grand Performances Summer Festival: At lunchtime, Angelenos take a cultural break. Grand Performances presents 40-plus free performing arts events - music, dance and theater - giving local talent a chance to shine. Mid-June through mid-October.
Ford Amphitheatre Summer Season: Watch dance, comedy, film and music performances in the midst of cypresses and chaparral, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. June to mid-October.
Pershing Square Summer Concert Series: This palm tree oasis in the high-rise heart of downtown brings people together for lunchtime concerts, films on Fridays, kids events and Salsa Sundays. June through late September.
Live at Hollywood & Highland: This summer series brings jazz , wine sampling and a way to help end world hunger, all at the same time. Although the music is free, wine tasting donations benefit Project Angel Food. June through late August on Tuesdays.
Twilight Dance and Music at the Santa Monica Pier: Music concert series from late June through late August.
Summer Sunset Music Festival in Culver City: When the day ends, the music begins with an eclectic array of musical offerings including classic rock, bluegrass and zydeco. Mid-July through early September.
Rock at the Hammer Museum: Indie 103.1 hand picks local upcoming bands to perform at the Hammer's outdoor courtyard. In the past, bands such as Sea Wolf and Tokyo Police Club played to a packed crowd. Generally held in July, dates for 2010 haven’t been posted yet.
Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty Center: Held in the museum’s courtyard, which boasts incredible nighttime views of the city. May to September.
Leeward Resort, an all suite, beachfront property in the Turks and Caicos Islands, offers a summer promotion that reduces rates 30 to 50 percent for bookings Apr. 15 through Dec. 15, 2010. The promotion also includes a free rental car and cell phone when you stay three nights or more.
Located five minutes from Grace Bay, the main tourist area in Turks and Caicos, the resort’s setting includes a white sand beach and an infinity pool. Accommodations feature rooms with water views. All rooms - except the Deluxe King - come with fully-equipped kitchens. You can use the on-property fitness center and range of water sports located nearby.
Rates range from $299 for a Deluxe King to $499 for a two-bedroom oceanfront suite and are discounted 30 to 50 percent for stays Apr. 15 to Dec. 15, 2010. The 30 percent discount applies to all rates and rooms, subject to regular booking policies, while the 50 percent discount is available on a limited number of rooms with a non-refundable deposit.
Leeward Resort or 877/407-6197.
The Department of State (U.S. Passport Service) proposes an intention to increase the fees charged for a number of consular services, including an increase in passport application fees. These fees are being increased to "ensure that fees for consular services reflect costs to the United States of providing the services."
The Bureau of Consular Affairs said in a Federal Register notice that the increased fees were the result of a 22-month cost study and were developed in keeping with a government policy that consular fees be based on the cost of providing the service. The issuance of a U.S. Passport is a major portion of activity.
The new fee structure would boost the price of a first-time passport from $100 to $135, while the price of renewals would rise from $75 to $110.
The cost of a passport for minors (under age 16) would stay the same ($40), but other consular fees pertaining to passports and visas would also increase.
Notably, getting additional pages to a valid and well-used passport, currently a free service, would rise to $82. The relatively newly introduced passport card will see an increase in fees as well.
Passport applicants who lack proof of citizenship currently incur a $60 fee to get State Department assistance in researching their record. That fee would rise to $150. There will also be a new fee of $450 for renouncing one’s citizenship.
New York Representatives Brian Higgins and Chris Lee spoke out against a proposed increase in passport fees, saying it could erect another barrier to international travel.
Higgins and Lee are co-sponsors of the Passport Fee Relief Act (H.R. 1733), a bill they introduced in 2009 to authorize income tax credits for the cost of passports and other "enhanced identification documents" required by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs has not pinned down an effective date for the new fees. It is expected to occur sometime in 2010.
If you're looking to save money on travels to Costa Rica consider the Lost Iguana Resort & Spa's "Green Season Special." Through November 2010, you can receive up to 40 percent off three- and five-night stays during the greenest time of year at the resort in Arenal, Costa Rica.
When you book two nights, you get one night free. Book three nights and get two nights free at the boutique hotel, with views of the erupting Arenal Volcano from every room. The package, with rooms from $111 per night based on double occupancy, includes daily breakfast and is valid for travel Apr. 20 to Nov. 15, 2010. Three-night stays start at $370 per room and five-night stays start from $555 per room.
On 120 acres of rainforest, the 42 rooms, suites, villas and casitas are designed to give views of the lava-flowing side of Arenal Volcano, one of the 10 most active in the world. The resort offers amenities you would expect from a larger resort, such as its full-service Golden Gecko Spa.
Sitting in the jungle in North Central Costa Rica, the resort offers use of its private walking paths with brooks and waterfalls that offer excellent bird watching. You can take self-guided walks or go with the resort's onsite wildlife guide who is available to answer questions and lead individualized tours.
Authentic Costa Rican cuisine is served at the open-air Blue Hibiscus Restaurant. Cocktails are available at the sit-down or swim-up thatched tropical bar or soak in the hot and cool freshwater pools.
Located near many of the area's popular attractions, guests of Lost Iguana can walk the famous Hanging Bridges, enjoy white-water rafting adventures, rappel alongside cascading waterfalls into canyons, or take dips in the local thermal hot springs.
Lost Iguana Resort & Spa.
TravelSmith offers travel clothing, travel accessories and travel shoes for women and men. Now you can get overstocks, seconds and samples at their outlet store in West Chester, Ohio.
The TravelSmith Outlet Store is at 8939 Union Center Blvd at the Frontgate Mall. Store hours are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Free parking is available.
TravelSmith Outlet Store or 513/645-4310.
NFL Team Branded Growth Chart |
A great keepsake to capture a child's growth through the years and show your team spirit.
Available for all 32 NFL teams plus the Ohio State University, the large growth chart (54" long by 15" wide) easily hangs
on any surface with removable adhesive tabs. A pink version for all 32 NFL teams is available for girls.
The growth chart comes with 14 removable footballs that adhere directly onto the chart.
Footballs, placed at the child's measurement each year, include a place to write the date and child's age, when measured,
and a place for a photo!
NFL team and Ohio State University growth charts are available at ke specialties llc
Tourism Vancouver and partner hotels invite the world - again. After the Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver hotels have offers so you can see where the Olympics took place.
To that end, Tourism Vancouver and the city's hotel community have come together with a range of accommodations offers that give you the opportunity to act on that interest and explore the Olympic Host City.
Here's a sample of Vancouver hotel offers.
Get the Third Night Free. Come for three nights pay for two at one of seven participating Vancouver hotels. Rooms start at $89 per night. Valid for stays until Apr. 30, 2010. Some blackout dates apply.
Moda Hotel - Perpetual Patriotic Olympics Package. An Olympic themed memento is included with your stay at this boutique hotel in the heart of Vancouver's arts and entertainment district. Rooms start at $199 per night and the package includes a $50 dining credit for the hotel's restaurants and overnight parking. Valid for stays until May 15.
Pan Pacific Vancouver - Get the third night free at this waterfront hotel located by Vancouver's iconic five sails. Rooms start at $209 per night. Valid for stays until Apr. 29, 2010.
All prices are in Canadian dollars, exclusive of taxes and are based on double occupancy. Blackout periods and conditions may apply.
The Winter Games have come to a close, but the city is not at a loss for things to do. Here's a sample of what's on in Vancouver.
Explore Sundays at the Vancouver Maritime Museum - noon to 4 pm - Take a special guided visit of a unique part of the Museum not normally open to the public. One guided tour explores the engine room and main hold of RCMP Arctic Schooner St. Roch. The other peeks inside the submersible Ben Franklin.
Dine Out Vancouver - April 26 to May 6: Enjoy three-course dinners at more than 200 Vancouver restaurants at $18, $28 or $38 price points. www.tourismvancouver.com
The Vancouver International Biennale - through June 30, 2011. This free open air exhibition features prominent sculptors and New Media artists. You can view monumental public sculpture installations along the beaches, walking and bike pathways surrounding Vancouver.
Tourism Vancouver or 877/826-1717.
Take advantage of an affordable Orlando vacation package at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village. With 45 day advance-purchase rates, package rates start at $69 per night.
The discount hotel rate is based on a 45 day advance purchase and prepayment. Located in the heart of Orlando's family attractions, the hotel offers an outdoor pool, a children's splash zone, fitness center, video arcade and an abundance of nearby golf and shopping opportunities.
The Book Early and Save Orlando Vacation package, valid through Dec. 31, 2010, includes: accommodations, free wireless high-speed internet, free parking, free Continental breakfast, rates from $69 per room, per night.
Close to theme parks and attractions, you can purchase your attraction tickets in the lobby and take advantage of the convenient hotel shuttle. Featuring an array of dining options, the Food Court at the hotel includes pizza, deli sandwiches, ice cream and coffee.
Enter promotional code ADP in the Corporate/Promotional code box when making online reservations 45 days prior. When calling in reservations, ask for promotional code ADP.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista in the Marriott Village or 800/834-7015.
W Retreat & Spa-Vieques Island, eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, opens its doors with an introductory Surrender to Your Senses package.
Starting at $359 per night plus tax and gratuities, the Surrender to Your Senses package includes and upgrade to a Mega Room with private balcony and direct access pool side and the cabana area; two welcome cocktails in the private W Lounge at the airport; breakfast daily on the beach; sunset champagne for two; Baba au Rhum, a signature dessert; and a W Retreat & Spa “Sunshine” Beach Bag.
The package is valid through Dec. 22, 2010 with a two night minimum stay and is subject to availability. Mention promo code W OPEN when booking.
The resort features 157 rooms and suites, all with private patios and balconies, with views of the Atlantic Ocean. With two private palm-lined beaches, the property offers waterfront leisure spots such as Living Room, Fire Pit, Lawn and Paradise Edge; four dining options from chef Alain Ducasse; and a Spa Chakra for revitalization and relaxation.
W Retreat & Spa Vieques or 877/WHOTELS.
BOOK BY APR. 30 - - Windstar Cruises, which operates a three-ship fleet with the Wind Surf, Wind Star and Wind Spirit, offers a future cruise credit of $250 per person when you book a select cruise sailing April through June 2010. You must book by Apr. 30, 2010.
Select April through June Wind Surf Mediterranean sailings include: Apr. 4, 18, 25 May 2, 9, 23, 30, June 6 and 13, 2010.
Select Wind Star sailings include Apr. 24, 2010 Lisbon to Barcelona.
Select Wind Spirit Mediterranean sailings include May 1, 8 and 15, 2010.
The future cruise credit can be applied to any future 2010 or 2011 sailing booked at Advance Savings Advantage program rates, Early Booking Incentive rates or Alumni rates. Future cruise credit certificates will be mailed two weeks after you sail and are valid until Dec. 20, 2011. The offer can be combined with one shipboard credit, upgrade or package offer. Taxes are additional. The offer is capacity controlled and may be withdrawn or modified at the discretion of Windstar.
Windstar Cruises or 800/258-7245.
|A new hop-on, hop-off tour bus now operates daily to connect Dusseldorf's attractions. The red double-decker buses are open to the air on warm days and sheltered by a roof deck during cold weather.
The bus tour includes eight stops including Historic Old Town and Rhine Tower, Rhine River promenade, Aquazoo and Castle Jagerhof. You can get off the bus at any stop to explore and then get back on to continue your tour.
A high-tech language system provides tour narrations in nine languages on every tour. You choose the language from your seat and a GDS operated system synchronizes the narration via headphones with the real-time tour course. In addition, the double-decker is equipped for special needs travelers and provides wheelchair access.
A 90-minute tour ticket is 15 euros and admits one adult and two children up to 14 years of age. Any additional child rides for 5 euros. The tickets can be combined with harbor boat tours at an additional charge and discounts are offered for holders of the Dusseldorf Welcome Card.
The Dusseldorf Welcome Card offers free rides on public transportation, free or reduced entry to many museums, opera, theaters and boat tours.
You can purchase a 24 hour, 48 hour or 72 hour Dusseldorf Welcome Card. The individual rate is nine euros for a 24 hour card, 14 euros for a 48 hour card and 19 euros for a 72 hour card. The Group/Family card, which is good for two adults and two children up to 14 years old or a group of three adults, is 18 euros for the 24 hour card, 28 euros for the 48 hour card and 38 euros for the 72 hour card.
In addition to being available online, the Dusseldorf Welcome Card is available at the Tourist Information offices, many museums, hotels and the ticket offices of the Rheinbahn (public transports).
Dusseldorf HopOn HopOff Tour Bus.
NFL Team Branded kleen kits
Fight against bacteria and flu germs with National Football League team branded hand sanitizer kleen kits. Produced by ke specialties llc, a kleen kit consists of a 2 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, an 8 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer and a 40 count canister of wipes, available for all 32 NFL teams plus The Ohio State University.
The 2 ounce bottle (TSA approved for 3-1-1 carry-ons) or 8 ounce bottle of hand sanitizer easily fit into a pocket, purse or back pack and the 40 count canister of wipes can be used at home, while tailgating or at work.
NFL team and Ohio State branded kleen kits are available at ke specialties llc.
Save on California's Great America theme park when you spend a night at one of 10 Santa Clara hotels. The discount packages represent a savings of almost 50 percent over regular room and ticket costs. Packages include one night's weekend accommodations and two Great America general admission tickets. Extra admission tickets can be purchased at a discount at participating hotels. The offer is good through Oct. 31, 2010.
Participating hotels are Avatar Hotel ($119), Biltmore Hotel & Suites ($129), Embassy Suites ($169), Hilton Santa Clara ($139), Holiday Inn Express & Suites ($129), Hotel Sierra ($145), Hyatt Regency Santa Clara ($139), Mariani's Inn and Restaurant ($139), Marriott Santa Clara ($134), and the Plaza Suites ($119). Sales tax is not included..
The 100-acre entertainment park is open weekends in April and May, open daily May 31 through Aug. 23, and weekends through Oct. 31, 2010.
Book the California Great America Hotel packages online.
BOOK BY APR. 9 - - With Air Tahiti Nui's "May Madness" special, available Apr. 20 to June 15, 2010, your can fly roundtrip in economy class from 91 cities in North America and Mexico to Tahiti in French Polynesia for $1,226, including fuel surcharge.
This is possible because Air Tahiti Nui partnered with domestic airlines for connections to Los Angeles International Airport at no extra add-on cost. The fare does not include inter-island connection between Tahiti and the eight other Tahitian islands.. Bookings must be made by Apr. 9, 2010, and government tax will apply.
Air Tahiti Nui is the leading carrier to French Polynesia featuring daily nonstop service from Los Angeles.
Air Tahiti Nui or 877/824-4846.
Innsbruck, Austria's summer hiking program is free for guests with a Club Innsbruck Card that stay in Innsbruck or its 25 holiday villages. The Club Innsbruck Card is issued automatically with an overnight stay in Innsbruck or one of its holiday villages. The program includes a certified hiking guide from the Alpine School of Innsbruck, hiking bus and equipment.
The free use of hiking equipment includes boots and a backpack, if you don't have your own. A free bus takes you to the hiking region.
A hiking guide, approved by the Innsbruck Alpine School (ASI), will offer guided walks. The three to five hour guided hikes are available May 31 toOct. 3, 2010. You must register for the hikes the day before.
Hikes include a sunrise experience up the Rangger Kopfl mountain to experience the birth of a new day. Lantern-lit evening programs include walks to Natterer Boden and Heiligwasser. Heiligwasser offers a view of the lighted valley below.
Innsbruck Mountain Hiking Program.
Virgin Vacations has packages for theater lovers to spend time in London's West End. The Virgin Vacations web site offers London packages for your budget.
With up to six nights to enjoy London, you'll have time to explore The London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Virgin Vacations will help you purchase tickets for musicals such as "Billy Elliot," "Hair," "Dirty Dancing" or to the classics at Shakespeare's Globe.
Virgin Vacations packages include the four-night "London Escape" from $749, the six-night "London At Its Best" from $799, and the new six-night "Four Star London" package from $799. Starting rates are for spring or fall departures with summer rates starting at $1,169. All packages are per person based on double occupancy and include hotel accommodations, free breakfast and roundtrip airfare on Virgin Atlantic or other available carriers, hotel taxes and services charges, and mandated fuel surcharges.
Not included are governmental and airport taxes and other government imposed fees that can add up to $300 per person.
Virgin Vacations or 866/674-6209.
BOOK BY APR. 25 - - Give Mom the gift of a pampered escape to the Caribbean Islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Bequia Beach Hotel on Bequia offers a four-night "Mother & Daughter Luxury Spa Escape" for $1,100, double occupancy, with 10 percent savings on regular daily rates. You will receive a room upgrade based on availability; a day sail to Tobago Cays aboard a schooner; a manicure and pedicure; one-hour deep tissue massage on the beach; a bottle of wine on arrival; and daily continental breakfast.
If you want a longer getaway to explore beyond Bequia, you can add three nights to a Bequia Beach Hotel stay. This seven night package for $1,700, based on double occupancy, is a 20 percent savings off the daily rate. The rate includes taxi transfers to and from the ferry dock and ferry vouchers between Bequia and St. Vincent (one-hour trip one-way).
Both offers must be booked by Apr. 25, and travel dates must include May 8 and 9, 2010.
Bequia Beach Hotel on Friendship Bay is the newest boutique hotel development. The property has 29 accommodations, consisting of 11 classic rooms, each with a private covered terrace; 13 suites; and six villas, three with a private plunge pool.
A one-hour ferry ride from St. Vincent, Bequia retains its age-old boat-building and fishing traditions. The island is dotted with homes draped in bougainvillea and shaded by almond trees. The island retains its iconic, family-run model boat shops - Sargeant Brothers Model Boat Shop and Mauvin's Model Boat Shop. Locals stage model boat races every Sunday ending at Friendship Bay. St. Vincent is the gateway to St. Vincent and the Grenadines' 32 islands and cays.
Bequia Beach Hotel 784/458-1600.
In a Nutshell: This large resort/casino complex is located just minutes from the Reno airport some distance from the downtown area. Formerly the Hilton Reno Resort & Conference Center, the property has nearly 2,000 rooms and suites as well as 200,000 square feet of convention and meeting space. In addition to the large ground-level casino area, there is a range of dining choices in 10 restaurants and cafes, 21 retail shops on the lower level, a 1,800-seat theater hosting a variety of music and theater events, a lounge/nightclub featuring live music, and numerous family-oriented attractions, including a 50-lane bowling center, virtual indoor golf, a movie theater, an indoor fun arcade, and a spa and fitness center. Outdoor amenities include a large pool area with cabanas and sand volleyball courts, an aqua golf driving range, a go-kart track, a miniature golf course, and a Sling Shot thrill ride.
First Impressions: I arrive on a quiet Wednesday afternoon in July, not knowing what to expect. The Grand Sierra Resort imposingly rises next to Highway 395 surrounded by a vast concrete parking lot with minimal landscaping. My sole experience with casinos has led me to expect more neon, noise, and smoke than what I experience upon entering the lobby of the Grand Sierra. I'm pleasantly surprised by the relaxed ambience and stylishly renovated decor in the lobby. At the desk, I'm quickly checked into a standard room with views of the Sierras rising in the distance.
My room is fairly large with an inoffensive but bland beige-and-teal color scheme. Everything seems clean and fresh, but there's no coffee maker, unfortunately, so I'm forced back down to the lobby for a cup of java at the Starbucks. Perhaps that was the intent. I do a little exploring of the ground floor and wander through the relatively quiet casino, which features several attractive lounge areas partially screened by shimmering strings of crystal lights and water features. Although I'm traveling on my own, it does seem a good spot for groups of friends to sit and chat over drinks. All in all, I'm favorably impressed.
Who Would Enjoy It: This resort has broad appeal, and everyone from attendees at conventions to family groups to young singles can find something that will appeal to them. It's not, however, as well suited to business travelers, focusing more on a vacation/relaxation experience. Grand Sierra Resort is seeking to attract an upscale clientele and offers correspondingly upscale amenities and accommodations for that segment. But it doesn't neglect everyday working-class people who want an affordable getaway.
Staying In: One of the best features about this resort is that there is so much to do right on the property, and much of it is free or quite affordable. Those who eschew gambling will find plenty to do away from the gaming tables, whether it be relaxing by the "beach" (the spacious swimming pool/cabana area), taking in a show or movie, or browsing the shops downstairs.
Dining tends to be either fairly high end - Charlie Palmer Steak, Fin Fish, and Briscola (Italian) - or casual, with eateries such as Johnny Rockets, Port of Subs, or Round Table Pizza. In addition to these dining choices, there's a 24-hour bistro cafe next to a Starbucks that closes regrettably early. Parents will appreciate the many activities available for children, most notably the bright and spacious arcade area, the movie theater with second-run films (including family fare), activities such as a sandbox and free outdoor movies at the pool, and the go-karts and miniature golf course. Night-owls who want to take a break from the casino can enjoy evening parties featuring DJs by the pool , take in a show in the Grand Theater, or kick back in one of the stylish lounges.
Stepping Out: Prominently featured in the lobby is the Grand Sierra Adventures Desk, which can individually tailor just about any outdoor adventure the area offers, including golfing, guided tours of the city and surrounding area, Segway tours, scenic boat rides on Lake Tahoe, motorcycle rentals, mountain biking, ATV and snowmobile tours, horseback riding, fishing, hang-gliding, kayaking and rafting, jet-skiing, and more. Reno bills itself as "America's Adventure Place," and the proximity to Lake Tahoe alone (40 to 60 miles away, depending on what part of the lake you're going to) provides a bounty of appealing recreational opportunities. Downtown Reno offers numerous casinos, restaurants and clubs for fun after dark, and the area hosts a number of events such as balloon races, rodeos and horse shows, a summer Shakespeare festival at Lake Tahoe, and music and arts festivals, many of which are free. Local museums include the National Automobile Museum, the Nevada Museum of Art, the Nevada State Museum, and the Nevada State Railroad Museum.
Bang for Your Buck: Without a doubt, Grand Sierra offers some terrific values, from the $3 movies in the cinema to the variety of seasonal packages. For example, the Rosewood golf package, valid through Sep. 30, 2010, starts at $79 per person, per night, and includes one night's accommodations in a standard room and one round of golf per person at Rosewood. The Somersett Special includes two nights' accommodations in a Summit Grand II suite and one round of golf per person at Sommersett. Valid through May 26, 2010, rates start at $145 per person. In addition, guests who join the casino's free "Comps Plus" program receive free offers and bonuses based on their rated level of play. These can include perks at casino events, salon and spa services, complimentary rooms, concerts, and free play offers.
Razzes and Raves:
Razzes: The outdoor areas, save the large pool enclosure, leave much to be desired aesthetically. The hotel sits amidst a vast expanse of concrete parking lot that is almost unrelieved by any sort of greenery. Better use could surely be made of this immense concrete expanse.
One major quibble - albeit a quibble - is that I didn't find any general map of the property in my room and wasn't given this sort of information at check-in, either. Baffled, I later asked at the concierge desk and was given a simple Xeroxed plan of the property. Without it, I would have been left to simply wander the resort without really knowing where various attractions were.
A bigger irritation is the $12.95 daily fee for Internet access. This seemed excessive, especially given that even budget motels now routinely provide free Internet access. Finally, a $5 daily resort fee is tacked onto the bill, an unseemly bit of nickel-and-diming that should be incorporated directly into the room rate.
Raves: Grand Sierra invested 1.8 billion in redevelopment, and it shows, especially in the ground-floor level and updated suites on the top floors. Some parts of the casino seemed virtually smoke-free, which might not be the case when there's a full house, but obviously the ventilation system works well. And whoever laid out the dining and lounge areas did an excellent job with the flow of space and integration of decor - it's very inviting.
Another thing that I liked was the emphasis on a whole resort experience rather than relying too heavily on the casino alone to draw in guests. This leads to a more agreeable family atmosphere, while at the same time there is no shortage of sophisticated activities for adults.
On the whole, I'd give Grand Sierra Resort high marks for affordability, with special kudos for how easy it is to plan and budget a vacation in advance using the resort's comprehensive website booking. Book anything from a standard room ($49 when I checked in early February) to a two-room 900-square-foot grand suite ($275), then add on whatever suits your fancy and pocketbook: dinner for two at the Lodget Buffet ($40), four games of bowling and a pizza and beer ($14.75), a 25-minute Swedish massage ($55), and so on. Knowing prices up front not only helps with budgeting but gives guests a better idea of the wide range of choices at this resort.
Practicalities: The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino's excellent website is the first place to visit for information. The Reno-Tahoe tourism site is useful for planning excursions. Reno is a fairly easy drive from several western states, notably northern California, and has good rail and air connections to areas further away.
|BOOK BY APR. 28 - - SuperClubs offers free nights this spring and summer at eight resorts in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Curacao for getaways booked by Apr. 28, 2010. Travel through Aug. 20, 2010 and receive every fourth night free at Breezes Bahamas, Breezes Trelawny and both Hedonism Resorts in Jamaica. A fifth free night is offered at Breezes Grand Negril, Breezes Rio Bueno and Breezes Runaway Bay in Jamaica, plus Breezes Curacao. As an extra bonus, kids stay, play and eat free when vacationing with mom and dad through Dec. 17, 2010 at Breezes Trelawny and Breezes Curacao.
The all-suite Breezes Grand Negril and the village-style Breezes Rio Bueno offer gourmet meals and a la carte spa treatments. Five-night stays start at $760 per person at Grand Negril and $660 per person at Rio Bueno. At Breezes Runaway Bay, you'll find the first golf school on the island, where you can practice your swing during free rounds and lessons. Five-night stays start at $640 per person.
On Nassau's Cable Beach, Breezes Bahamas rates for four-night stays start at $435 per person. For families with kids, Breezes Curacao and Breezes Trelawny's free Kids Club keep little ones busy with mini-golf, arts and crafts and a kiddie pool. Four-night stays start at $375 per adult at Breezes Trelawny and five-night stays start at $580 per adult at Breezes Curacao. Kids ages two to 13 stay free at both resorts through Dec. 17, 2010 (one child per paying adult).
Hedonism Resorts, Jamaica's party headquarters, offers four-night stays from $495 per person,
Breezes and Hedonism resorts' Super-Inclusive vacation packages include accommodations, all meals, unlimited cocktails, land and water sports (with instruction and equipment rental), recreational activities, entertainment, airport transfers and hotel taxes. Tipping is not allowed.
Breezes Vacation or 877/273-3937. Click here for a Hedonism getaway or 800/467-8737
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|Cheap Tix Chart -- Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets
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Fr-ee Fun San Diego -- This savings-packed FR.EE brochure features almost 40 Fun, Fr-ee Things to do in San Diego. When heading to Southern California, attend concerts or visit a State Historic Park and keep that cash in your pocket.
To get your Fr-ee Fun San Diego brochure, for a $1 handling fee, click here to send us an email.
|Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage There's no mistaking your luggage with the Face-It Luggage Tag. The durable, laminated tag displays your face and the phrase `This Face Belongs With This Luggage.`
A Face-It Luggage tag makes it less likely for a stranger or thief to walk off with your luggage and helps you recognize your luggage at a glance in hotels or airports. Face-It Tags are also available for briefcases, portfolio books, backpacks, sporting equipment, musical instruments, bicycles and more.
Face-It Luggage Tags.
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|Silky Travel Jewelry Roll A must have for travelers. Our silky travel jewelry
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This handy travel jewelry roll measures 8 1/2 x 11 inches when open and closes to a compact 8 1/2 x 4 inches.
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|Herd ostrich, ride horses or gather eggs -- at a family farm in Pennsylvania, the relaxing alternative to a camping vacation. The 25 family farms roll out the red carpet for families and are found in all corners of the state.
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The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.
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