If your email reader cannot read HTML, please go to http://www.geocities.com/tips2travel to view this newsletter. Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter
Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, May 2009 Issue



Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://www.geocities.com/tips2travel
travelnewsletter@aim.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2009 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff


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In This Issue:
Rainbow near Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii

Rainbow near Koloa

  • Air Tahiti Nui Vacations $3,400 for Four
  • Delta Triple Miles
  • 50% Summer Savings in St. Lucia
  • NJ Hotels Early Booking Discounts
  • Prolonged Travel can Increase Blood Clots
  • U.S. Virgin Islands Sizzlin’ Sampler Package
  • Cruise West Early Booking Savings
  • Gluten-f-ree Philadelphia Restaurants
  • B&Bs “Tanks for Traveling” Offers
  • Stay, Play, Save w/Emerald Coast Package
  • Save $2,000 w/10-Night China Delights Tour
  • Alaska Cruise Ship Mixes Wilderness, Luxury
  • Radisson Hotels & Resorts Bonus Airline Miles
  • Peer-to-Peer Short Term Room Rentals
  • Sunset Resorts “Play in Paradise” Sale
  • Belize For Less Than $75 per Night
  • Costa F,ree Hotel Stays/Transfers
  • $350 Savings at Breezes Curacao
  • Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining on Kauai
  • Hilton Hot Summer Deals


    • Air Tahiti Nui Vacations from $3,400 for Four

      BOOK BY MAY 15 - - For a limited time, kids fly, stay and eat fr,ee. This means a family of four can spend five nights in French Polynesia from $1,698 per adult. In addition to roundtrip economy air from Los Angeles, Air Tahiti Nui’s four new family packages also include adult breakfasts daily and all transfers. Bookings must be made by May 15 for travel through May 31, July 10 to 17, and Nov. 1 to Dec. 10, 2009.

      The “Tahiti Family Vacation” package starts from $1,698 per adult and features a five-night stay in a garden suite at the new Manava Suite Resort Tahiti. The resort offers the island’s largest infinity swimming pool facing the lagoon and nearby island of Moorea, and an overwater restaurant with terrace.

      The “Tahiti and Moorea Family Fun” package starts from $1,998 per adult. After two nights at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti in a garden suite, families take a 10-mile ferry ride to stay three nights at the Moorea Pearl Resort & Spa in a garden-view duplex. Down the road from Cook's Bay, the traditional Polynesian style hotel sits on 7.5 acres of beach and features fre,e use of kayaks and snorkeling equipment.

      The “Bora Bora Family Getaway” package, starts at $2,098 per adult. For five nights, you stay at the Le Maitai Polynesia Bora Bora in a garden-view room. Daily breakfasts for four are included. Kids fly and stay f,ree.

      The “Bora Bora Affordable Family Luxury Vacation” starts from $2,498 per adult. The package features two nights at the Manava Suite Resort Tahiti in a garden suite and three nights in a lagoon-view Suite at the new Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort and Spa, built around a sacred lagoon accessible only by private boat.

      The above packages include one fr,ee child age two to 11 per paying adult. A maximum of two children (quad occupancy) may share the same room or suite. Prices are based on double occupancy and include fuel surcharges but exclude government and airport taxes of approximately $85 per person including children, plus hotel city tax of 1.3 Euros per person (about US$1.77). Higher prices and surcharges apply for peak season travel. All tickets must be issued by May 15, 2009.

      Air Tahiti Nui or 877/824-4846.



      Delta Triple Miles

      Delta Air Lines offers SkyMiles and Northwest WorldPerks members up to triple miles toward elite status on select fares purchased for travel through June 15, 2009.

      First, business and premium economy fares earn triple the miles flown toward elite status. Discounted economy fares earn double the miles flown toward elite status. Deeply discounted economy fares earn the actual miles flown toward elite status.

      For example, flying nonstop between Atlanta and Tokyo, you receive 13,700 elite miles - the actual miles flown - on a deeply discounted economy fare. With this offer, a premium fare for the same itinerary will earn 41,100 elite miles and a discounted economy fare will earn 27,400 elite miles, both of which would qualify you for Silver Medallion status.

      SkyMiles members who earn at least 25,000 elite qualification miles in one calendar year qualify for Medallion status, which enables you to receive benefits including fre,e upgrades, priority boarding, mileage bonuses, preferred seating and more. Information about Delta's elite status and the SkyMiles program are available online.

      To participate in this offer, SkyMiles members must enroll here and WorldPerks members can enroll at this link.

      Delta Air Lines.


      Advertisement
      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.



      50% Summer Savings in St. Lucia

      East Winds Inn, in St. Lucia, is known for its tranquil setting along La Brelotte Bay, surrounded by 12 acres of tropical gardens.

      During the summer, East Winds' rates drop to $470 per room, per night June 1 to Dec. 20, 2009. That's nearly a 50 percent savings over winter rates of $850 for the same room category. The rate includes all meals, beverages (including fine wines and champagne), use of Hobie cats for individual sailing outings and water sports.

      East Winds has 30 guest rooms, mostly individual cottages trimmed with gingerbread fretwork and traditional shingle-style tile roofs. The cottages are scattered among the sloping lawns and mango, casuarinas and flamboyant trees.

      New features include a 3,000 square foot open-air fitness pavilion for yoga and Pilates and a jogging track that winds around the resort’s 12 acres. For a relaxed experience, East Winds features the only Steinway Grand piano in the Caribbean, to listen to piano jazz favorites while sipping the fre.e champagne served each evening.

      Additionally, visit through Oct. 31, 2009, East Winds offers anyone staying five nights or more a fr.ee sunset cruise onboard the Brig Unicorn, seen in Disney's original Pirates of the Caribbean.

      East Winds Inn or 758/452-8212.



      NJ Hotels Early Booking Discounts

      Finding affordable summer travel options got easier with an early booking program created by the New Jersey Division of Travel & Tourism that provides discounts at the state’s hotels. Make a reservation by Memorial Day for a stay between June and August 2009 and you will receive 15 percent off the room rate at participating hotels.

      The Early Booking promotion features a variety of resorts, hotels and bed & breakfast inns, with properties added during the duration of the 10-week program. Text “BookNJ” to “91077” and you will receive a text message response linking you to a dedicated page on the State’s Tourism website to view the exclusive offers.

      Participating properties include boutique hotels in Atlantic City and Long Beach Island, bed & breakfast inns in Cape May and New Egypt, historic inns in Princeton and Ocean Grove, world-class hotels in Short Hills and New Brunswick and a spa resort in Vernon.

      A complete list of participating hotels and additional program details are available online at the state tourism web site.

      New Jersey Tourism.



      Prolonged Travel can Increase Blood Clots

      If you sit in one place for an extended period of time, you have an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a serious blood clotting condition, said an expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

      “Deep vein thrombosis occurs when your blood clotting system is disrupted and clots form in the deep veins of your body, mostly your leg,” said Dr. Peter Lin, chief of vascular surgery and an associate professor of surgery at BCM. “When you sit for long periods of time, your calf muscles do not contract and blood does not circulate normally. When your blood flow is obstructed, blood pools in your veins and clots are more likely to form.”

      Deep vein thrombosis can be a potentially serious condition that may cause permanent damage to the leg or a life-threatening condition in which a clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, said Lin, also a vascular surgeon at St. Joseph Medical Center in Houston.

      Lin said if you are planning to take a long road trip, train ride or overseas flight, simple preventive measures can keep your blood flowing properly.

      “If you are on a long car ride, make sure to stop about every two to three hours and get out and walk around,” said Lin. “On long flights and train rides, walk up and down the aisles. If you are sitting by the window and are hesitant to get up frequently, flex your ankles and the muscles in your hips and legs.”

      In about half the cases, you can develop deep vein thrombosis and not even know it, said Lin.

      Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis include swelling and pain in the legs, ankles, feet, arms and neck, cramping in the calf and redness and warmth over the affected area.

      Early warning signs may be chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, sense of anxiety or nervousness and coughing up blood.

      If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should contact your doctor, said Lin.

      “An ultrasound, CT or MRI scan, blood test or X-ray of the veins can help your doctor spot the clot,” said Lin. “Your physician may prescribe blood thinners or clot-busting drugs, surgery, intravenous filters and/or wearing compression stockings to prevent swelling.”

        Other risk factors can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. These include:
      • A blood-clotting disorder
      • Prolonged bed rest (long hospital stay or paralysis)
      • Injury or surgery
      • Pregnancy, cancer, heart failure
      • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy
      • Pacemaker or a thin, flexible tube (catheter) in a central vein
      • Family or previous history of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
      • Being overweight or obese
      • Smoking

      “There is no need for vacationers to panic. Chances are relatively low for developing deep vein thrombosis while flying or driving, but it is important to be aware and take precautionary measures,” said Lin.



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      U.S. Virgin Islands Sizzlin’ Sampler Package

      Visit the U.S. Virgin Islands: St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas this summer, and stretch your dollars with the Sizzlin’ Sampler package.

      The package includes a fr.ee fourth night, $300 air credit, $50 worth of certificates for attractions, a $50 dining certificate and a $500 coupon booklet containing retail special offers. The Sizzlin’ Sampler is valid for bookings made by Oct. 15, 2009 for travel through Oct. 31, 2009. The package is based on a four-night minimum stay.

      The Sizzlin' Sampler package is available only at participating hotel and applies to new bookings only. Reservations can be made through tour operators, including Apple Vacations, BookIt.com, Certified Vacations Group, CheapCaribbean, Classic Vacations, Costco Travel, Enjoy Vacations, Expedia Inc., Island Resort Tours, Libgo Travel, The Mark Travel Corporation, MLT Vacations, Orbitz Worldwide, Pleasant Holidays, Total Vacations, Travel Impressions, Travelocity, US Airways Vacations and Vacation Express.

      When traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands, U.S. citizens enjoy the conveniences of domestic travel including on-line check-in. As a United States Territory, travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands does not require a passport from U.S. citizens arriving from Puerto Rico or the U.S. mainland. Entry requirements for non-U.S. citizens are the same as for entering the United States from any foreign destination. Upon departure, a passport is required for all but U.S. citizens.

      United States Virgin Islands.



      Cruise West Early Booking Savings

      BOOK & PAY BY MAY 22 - - In celebration of Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, Cruise West, with small-ship exploration cruises, updates its Galapagos Islands itinerary. During the 2010 season, you will sail nine-night cruises on the 100-guest Galapagos Explorer II. The itinerary to this UNESCO World Heritage site is rearranged, ensuring maximum exposure to the islands' diverse wildlife and scenery. Save up to $600 per person by booking and paying in full by May 22, 2009.

      Ecuador is home to the Biosphere Reserve of the Galapagos Islands. Traveling 650 miles west of the mainland, you will explore volcanic islands and interact with thousands of animal species including giant tortoises, pink flamingos, blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins.

      The trip starts in the colonial Ecuadorian town of Quito, with a walking tour and dinner. You fly from Quito to San Cristobal Island to board the Galapagos Explorer II, a 293-foot vessel that includes a Jacuzzi, marine observation deck and reading room. Experienced naturalist guides are onboard to lead expeditions in search of wildlife and to provide local and historical insight.

      The ship sails to Bartolome, Fernandina, Hood, Isabela, Santa Cruz, Santiago, and Rabida islands. The cruise ends with a 45-minute bus ride through changing vegetation zones in the Santa Cruz Highlands, where you can approach the 40 giant tortoises native to the region.

      Galapagos cruises depart Mar. 29 and Apr. 5, 2010. Prices begin at $4,999 per person, double occupancy. Three tiered early booking and final payment savings are available. Book and pay in full by May 22, 2009 and save $600; by July 16, 2009, save $400 and by Sep. 11, 2009, save $200 per person.

      Cruise West or 800/296-8307.



      Gluten-f-ree Philadelphia Restaurants

      Good news for celiacs: Philadelphia restaurants are ready to serve you. After completing the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) Gluten-Fr-ee Resource Education Awareness Training (GREAT) program, 35 city eateries can cater to diners with celiac disease or wheat allergies. This makes Philadelphia the first gluten-fr.ee neighborhood in the U.S. The full list of restaurants is available online.

      GF offerings in Philadelphia include beer at Memphis Taproom, pasta at the Palm Restaurant and a 90 percent GF menu at Distrito. Most importantly, staff at each of the 31 restaurants are educated about the disease and can answer questions and accommodate GF requests. NFCA hosts monthly Monday Meet-Up! dinners at the Philadelphia GF-ready restaurants to raise money and awareness for the under-diagnosed autoimmune disorder.

      To find restaurants serving GF options, click on “Things to Do,” and then “Dining & Food.” The “Gluten-F.ree Menu Items” provide profiles on GF restaurants, photos and mapping out GF restaurants.

      Nearly three million Americans, one out of 133, has celiac disease, but 97 percent remain undiagnosed. Generating public awareness of the disease and making GF foods more readily available are major goals of the Ambler-based NCFA and the drivers behind Philly’s GF push.

      Greater Philadelphia Visitors Site.


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      B&Bs “Tanks for Traveling” Offers

      For the sixth year, BedandBreakfast.com's members reward value-conscious travelers with offers to fuel spring and summer vacations. Dubbed “Tanks for Traveling,” the promotion puts money where you need, into your gas tank, stomach and wallet. Knowing that travelers are interested in traveling green and saving, BedandBreakfast.com members crafted creative offers to reward guests and say "Tank You" for traveling.

      B&Bs in nearly 40 states, the Caribbean, Canada, Italy, France, and Croatia created more than 150 money-saving deals. A complete list of participating inns is online and available by clicking the fuel gauge graphic in the center of the screen. To get these offers, mention the Tanks for Traveling promotion. Offers can not be applied to preexisting reservations nor combined with any other promotion, and may not be available during holiday periods.

      Here are a few “Tanks for Traveling” promotions.

      Vine Street Inn, Paso Robles, CA: Receive a $100 Vine Street Inn gift certificate if you arrive at the Paso Robles Train Station via train or bus; station pick up is included. Offer valid through Mar. 31, 2010.

      High Haven House B&B Inn, Vineyard Haven, MA: Through Oct. 31, 2009, book four nights in a efficiency apartment or suite and get a 15 percent Tanks for Travelin’ discount; stay five nights and get a 20 percent discount. AAA members from New England receive a $75 gas card; travel from New York and beyond and get a $150 gas card with a four-night stay.

      The Kingsley House, Fennville, MI: Through June 30, 2009, stay two nights or more in a suite and receive two one-hour in-house massages (a $150 value).

      Thorwood Inn, Hastings, MN: Book two nights in an ultimate suite on a weekend, or three nights midweek and earn a $500 gas certificate. The nights do not have to be consecutive. Spend $500 at the inn before July 31, 2009, and get a $500 gas certificate. Register the certificate at one of 14 gasoline companies; each time you spend $100 for gas, you get a $25 rebate to a $500 max.

      Garth Woodside Mansion, Hannibal, MO: Through Sep. 30, 2009, breakfast and dinner are included in the room cost.

      Berry Springs Lodge, Sevierville, TN: Stay two nights and save $40 per night midweek and $20 per night on weekends with the "Back to Nature" discount. Valid through 2009, you need to bring a plant or sapling to plant, a rock for a Zen garden or a leaf for a scrapbook to qualify.

      Black Bear Inn, Bolton Valley, VT: Stay three or more nights through Sep. 24, 2009, and receive a $100 gasoline gift card on checkout.

      Harmony Hill B&B, Lovingston, VA: Stay two nights Monday through Thursday and receive a voucher for one additional night fre.e. The voucher may be used to add another night to a current stay or toward a future stay thorough Dec. 31, 2009.

      Boreas B&B, Long Beach, WA: Through July 2, 2009, book two nights and receive a $50 gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant. Stay three nights and you save $50 on your room.

      Earth Rider Boutique Hotel, Brodhead, WI: Take public transportation or bike to this cycling-themed B&B and bike shop. When you stay two weekend nights, you receive a $40 dinner certificate to "refuel" at a local restaurant plus a one-hour massage to "tune-up" your engine. Rates are $340 for two people through Oct. 31, 2009.

      BedandBreakfast.com.



      Stay, Play, Save w/Emerald Coast Stimulus Package

      Florida's Emerald Coast offers a value getaway this spring. The towns of Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa Island present affordable accommodations and events, with many area attractions at little to no cost. Wallet-friendly adventures for "kids" of all ages include 24 miles of white sands and emerald-green waters.

        Attractions under $20 include:
      • Building Sandcastles in the Sand - - f-ree
      • Air Force Armament Museum - - fr-ee
      • Gator Beach Alligator Exhibit - - f.ree
      • Destin History & Fishing Museum - - adults $5/children $3
      • Emerald Coast Science Center - - adults $5/children $3.50
      • Fishing Off the Okaloosa Pier - - adults $7/children $4
      • Florida's Gulfarium - - adults $19.25/children $11.50
        A few value accommodations, with rates good through June 21, 2009, include:
      • SeaCrest Condominium from $85 per night
      • Comfort Inn Destin from $99 per night, with fre.e continental breakfast
      • Southern Resorts from $100 per night
      • Four Points by Sheraton from $125 per night, children f.ree with parent

      Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau or 800/322-3319.


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      Save $2,000 w/10-Night China Delights Tour

      China Spree Travel has a 10-night introductory tour of China that starts at $999 per person based on double occupancy, or less than $100 a night. An independent traveler who books the elements of this tour would pay at least $3,000.

      The 10-night China Delights Tour covers Beijing, Suzhou, Tongli, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Included in the $999 price are non-stop airfare from San Francisco to Beijing on Air China, first-class hotels with private bath, daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners, all transportation in China, sightseeing tours with entrance fees, special evening shows, a tour director, local guides, baggage handling and culinary events such as a Peking duck dinner and a traditional Mongolian barbecue lunch.

      In addition to the standard Beijing sites: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Olympic Stadium and the Great Wall, the trip includes lunch with a Chinese family and a rickshaw tour of Beijing's hutongs, the old neighborhoods with a network of courtyard homes and narrow lanes.

      Outside of Beijing the tour visits a classical garden and silk mill, includes a gondola ride and cruise on West Lake, visits a tea plantation with a Chinese Tea Ceremony and stops at the old Shanghai Bazaar.

      The $999 price applies to five departures in November and one on Dec. 6, 2009. Prices quoted are the cash discount rate that is subject to availability and does not include departure taxes and a fuel surcharge of $382, or the China visa fee. The price from New York starts at $1,199 plus $390 tax and surcharge. Add-on fares from other departure cities are $190 for Boston; $320 for Washington, D.C.; $310 for Miami and Chicago and $130 for Los Angeles.

      China Spree Travel or 866/652-5656.


      Small Alaska Cruise Ship Mixes Wilderness, Luxury

      The small ship, M.V. Sikumi, cruises into its 2009 season with discounts, early bird specials and shorter cruises to entice you to experience luxury and the Alaskan wilderness.

      Sikumi is cutting prices for all cruise packages by 20 to 40 percent.

      Small ship cruising offers benefits such as access and maneuverability and a more personal experience, with guests and crew getting to know one another on a first name basis. You are able to set the pace based on what you want, with choices such as kayaking around icebergs, hiking, wildlife viewing, or simply relaxing onboard.

      Based out of Petersburg, Alaska, the Sikumi has four staterooms and the capacity to carry eight to 12 guests through Alaska's Inside Passage.

      M.V. Sikumi or 425/806-2083.



      Radisson Hotels & Resorts Bonus Airline Miles

      Radisson Hotels & Resorts launches a promotion to provide 500 frequent-flyer miles from United or American Airlines for each night of your stay. Under the new Earn Every Night program, when you stay at any Radisson property in the Americas between May 1 and July 31, 2009, you will receive 500 frequent-flyer miles for each night of your stay, up to a maximum of 2,000 miles.

      You must show your airline membership card at check-in to earn the bonus miles.

      One night earns 500 miles, two nights earn 1,000 miles, three nights earn 1,500 miles and four or more nights earn 2,000 miles.

      Radisson Earn Every Night program or 800/333-3333.



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      Peer-to-Peer Short Term Room Rentals

      Roomorama.com is the conduit to “home away from home” accommodations. The web site allows potential guests and hosts to quickly search and connect based on their rental needs. The reservation process is simple: guests inquire, host accepts, guest makes payment.

      Roomorama.com provides a secure online payment process. Rates are determined by the host at a fixed nightly rate and a small transaction fee is charged to guests when booking. A streamlined process lets hosts quickly confirm availability and accept payments via PayPal or check. Roomorama.com’s 24/7 customer service is on-hand to answer questions day or night.

      Roomorama.com hosts build their reputation and credibility by hosting stays and getting feedback from guests, adding to their Reputation Score. Listings earn more visibility in the website’s search results. With the Certified Host program, Roomorama.com will administer and enforce a host’s personal cancellation policy. Guests are also notified of Certified Hosts in their searches, giving these hosts a greater chance of renting their accommodations.

      Roomorama.com is available in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington D.C. International cities including London will be added sometime in 2009.

      Roomorama.com.



      Sunset Resorts “Play in Paradise” Sale

      Sunset Resorts welcome families for an all-inclusive Jamaican vacation with savings up to 35 percent off. The Play in Paradise sale is available at Sunset Beach Resort & Spa, Montego Bay and Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa, Ocho Rios.

      Rates include all meals and beverages, cocktails, non-motorized water sports, daytime and nightly activities, taxes and tips and start at $140 per person, per night based on double occupancy. Plus two children ages three to 15 stay fr.ee when sharing one room with two adults.

      The sale includes new extras as both resorts ramp up and add to their signature Club Mongoose Kid’s programs.

      The Play in Paradise Sale offers the following discounted rates:

      SunsetBeach Resort & Spa - $156 per person, per night (based on double occupancy) in a Bay View category or higher plus two children stay fre.e. Valid June 7 through Aug. 22, 2009. Aug. 23 through Sep. 30, 2009, the rate is $142 per person, per night.

      Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort & Spa - $176 per person, per night (based on double occupancy) in a Ocean View category or higher plus two children stay f.ree. Valid June 7 through Aug. 22, 2009. $140 per person, per night Aug. 23 through Sep. 30, 2009.

      Sunset Resorts or 800/234-1707.



      Belize For Less Than $75 per Night

      Families searching for affordable summer travel may find Belize as their escape, with stays for less than $75 per night. Belize features an extensive selection of affordable hotels, which can be accessed at Belize's Toucan Trail website. Below are some hotels with rooms for $75 or less per night and activities to avoid boredom complaints from the kids:

      Caye Caulker
      Jaguar Morning Star Guest House: Sits in the middle of Caye Caulker, a short walk from the market, beach, restaurants and water activities including kayaking, snorkeling, scuba diving, manatee tours and windsurfing. Bike rentals are on-site. The guest house has sunrise/sunset views over the water and a constant breeze throughout the day. Price: $45 to $60 per night.

      Da Real Macaw: Located on one of the sandy beaches of Caye Caulker, the rooms, cabanas, condos and apartments, with thatched-roof cabanas and beach-front porches, are all within 60 yards of the Caribbean Sea. Amenities range from Adirondack chairs on the beach and hammocks to wireless internet and cable TV. Beachfront rooms and cabanas from $20 to $70 per night.

      Hopkins Village
      Hopkins Inn: This little inn under coconut trees and red hibiscus hedges is on the beach of Hopkins Village. The inn's cabanas offer locally-made furniture, high ceilings and windows to let in the landscape. Hopkins Inn offers water activities such as snorkeling, diving, canoeing, fishing and windsurfing. Located on the mainland, families can also go hiking, birding, take inland tours and experience the Belizean culture. Prices start at $49 per night and include breakfast.

      Placencia
      Sea Spray Hotel: The 20 beachfront rooms and one cabana along the Placencia shoreline rooms have double and single beds, ceiling fans, private showers, refrigerators, coffee makers, beach decks and hammocks overlooking the Caribbean Sea. The beach bar and grill serves some of the best cuisine in Placencia and offers Internet & email services. Land and sea tours can be arranged by this family-owned and operated hotel. $20 to $55 per night.

      Cayo District
      Midas Resort: In the Cayo District, the jungle property offers family adventure opportunities on and off site. The resort has cottages, cabanas, casitas and suites. Maya ruins tower above the tree tops, for the chance to experience educational trips. Jungle rivers let families enjoy river rafting and tubing rides. In nearby San Ignacio families can go horseback riding, birding, visit butterfly farms and take jungle treks. From $49 to $79 per night.

      Between Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south, English is the language spoken in Belize. It’s a land rich in natural beauty and steeped in the history and culture of its Maya past. The location of the second largest barrier reef in the world, the little known Belizian waters showcase marine and wildlife, unspoiled landscapes and diving.

      Belize Toucan Trail.



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      Costa Fr.ee Hotel Stays/Transfers

      Costa Cruises offers two fre.e hotel night stays with transfers when you book select seven- to 12-night Mediterranean cruises with airfare. This special offer is available on sailings from Venice, Civitavecchia and Savona. Packages with seven-night cruise and roundtrip air from New York and Newark begin at $1,652 per person, with fares available from other major U.S. gateways.

      With the package, you may choose from hotel stays pre- or post-cruise (one day pre or two days post) at the Laguna Palace Mestre in Venice, the Hotel Claridge in Rome and the Hotel Bristol Palace in Savona. All transfers are included.

      You must book by May 31, 2009. The package is valid for seven- to 12-night Mediterranean sailings departing from Venice, Civitavecchia and Savona Sep. 1 through Nov. 30, 2009.

      Costa Cruises or 800/GO-COSTA.



      $350 Savings at Breezes Curacao

      Breezes Curacao Resort, Spa & Casino’s "Kids Stay F=ree and Single Parent Supplement" promotion can provide an affordable family getaway. The promotion allows children ages two to 13 to stay, play and eat for fr=ee through Dec. 22, 2009, a savings of $100 for a family of four. In addition, the single supplement is waived for single parents looking for downtime with their children.

      Book the "Curacao Now" promotion before July 15 and receive one fr-ee night and $140 in Blue Mahoe spa credits per room for travel through July 1, and Aug. 15 to Dec. 15, 2009. When combining the "Kids Stay Fre=e and Single Parent Supplement" and "Curacao Now" offers, a family of four saves more than $350.

      Located two miles from Willemstad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Breezes Curacao’s Super-Inclusive package includes: accommodations, all meals, snacks and unlimited premium brand cocktails; all land and water sports activities, with equipment rental and instruction; recreational activities; entertainment; airport transfers and hotel taxes; and no tipping is allowed. A three-paid night minimum stay is required for the "Kids Stay F=ree and Single Supplement" promotion. These promotions are combinable with the "Curaçao Now" offer.

      Families can hop on Breezes’ fre-e shuttle to Willemstad and visit the island’s historical, business and cultural capital, or check out the Curacao Seaquarium, a short walk from the resort.

      Youngsters have a children’s swimming pool and Kids Club, which offers activities and age-specific programs. The 12,000 sq. ft. space boasts an arts & crafts center and playground, plus a teen center with video arcade and game room. The nanny-supervised nursery for infants and toddlers up to two years of age is open from 9 to 5.

      Breezes Curacao or 800/467-8737.



      Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining on Kauai - - Article and photos by Kay Douglas

      Rainbow near KoloaLike most vacation destinations, Kauai has seen a decrease in tourists this past year, which is bad for the tourism industry but good news for visitors. Hawaii reported a ten-percent drop in tourism last year, which has put a strain on the local economy. Those who do come to the Hawaiian islands, however, are finding some relative bargains in accommodations and packages, not to mention more room to move.

      As there is no “bad” time to visit Kauai, those who can travel during off-peak times such as the spring and fall can also reap the benefits of lower airfares and even more deeply discounted hotel rooms.

      For example, Aston Hotels & Resorts, with resorts located in Kapa’a, Wailua, and Poi’pu, has rates starting as low as $94 per night for beachfront rooms, while one-bedroom condos in Princeville, on the lush North Shore, are renting for as little as $150 per night.

      Aside from steep reductions in rates, many resorts are adding special discounts on meals, activities, and spa treatments. Kauai’s many activity companies are also rolling out the red carpet with specials on zip-line tours, kayaking, whale watching, surfing lessons and other adventure activities.

      Kauai has always had plenty of low-cost or f.ree options for the visitor interested in relaxing and enjoying the island’s abundant natural beauty and culture. One recent notable development is the opening of the Ka Ala Hele Makalae (“the path that goes by the coast”) along the Coconut Coast. Currently this paved pedestrian and bike path runs north from Kapa’a to Kealia Beach, but eventually it will stretch some 16 miles, from Lihue Airport up to Anahola. (Several new sections should be added soon.) Already entrepreneurial spirits have set up bike-rental stands along the main road through Kapa’a, offering all-day beach-coaster bike rentals for as little as $10. Pack a picnic lunch, or pick up something to eat along the way at one of the inexpensive stands near the path, and make a day of it, enjoying the best of both worlds: the bustle of the shops along Hwy 56 and the serene beauty of the beaches and coast. The pathway features numerous covered kiosks, perfect picnic stops or simply places to sit quietly and contemplate the ocean. Kealia Beach, the current end point of the path, is a great place to watch local surfing action.

      Hiking is a favored activity on Kauai, but during rainy weather this can be challenging since many of the trails become muddy and slippery. One newer trail on the southern coastline, however, is relatively immune to the mud as it runs over stone cliffs and sandy beaches. The Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail is one of the most interesting and spectacular hikes I’ve done on the island, encompassing unique cultural sites such as petroglyphs and a heiau (sacred site). Views of rugged sandstone-limestone cliffs alternate with sand dunes and crescent bays along this easy two-mile (one way) walk through time. Here the terrain is millions of years old along a pristine stretch of undeveloped coastline. Along the way, I saw not one but two rare monk seals resting on the shore, each carefully watched over by a volunteer who had staked out a “no-go” zone for onlookers.

      Na Pali coast and Kalalau Valley from Pihea TrailOf course, every visitor to Kauai hears of the splendors of Waimea Canyon, and indeed this is one of the many spectacular f.ree sights that no one should omit from an itinerary. While at Waimea, however, consider taking a hike at adjoining Koke’e State Park. Several of these highland hikes feature breathtaking vistas of the famed Na Pali coast, such as the Pihea Trail, which begins at the Pu’u O Kila lookout. There are wonderful panoramic views of the Kalalau Valley, often through a veil of mists. As a bonus, it’s as much as 15 degrees cooler up in Koke’e, making the sometimes challenging terrain less taxing.

      Hungry from all that hiking? Local eateries are the places to go. Look for local “grinds” such as the Ono Family Restaurant and the Mermaid Café in Kapa’a, or the Kilauea Fish Market and Kilauea Bakery. Ample “plate lunch” choices pack a maximum of starch and protein into an affordable (as little as $7) package. A plate lunch is Hawaii’s version of fast food, portable and perfect for taking to the beach. In-house family-style dining is also very popular and affordable, as found at the Garden Island Barbecue and Chinese Restaurant in Lihue. Here we literally feasted on breaded chicken, barbecue Chinese pork, and twin mountains of rice and macaroni salad, while all around us large groups chatted happily over family-style Chinese dishes. This is a favorite with locals but off-island visitors will feel equally at home here.

      monk seal at shipwreck beachAnother option is to take in one of Kauai’s many farmers markets, great places to buy fresh fruit or flowers as well as to mingle with the locals. Sample exotic fruits, such as rambutan or mangoes, or pick up affordably priced baked goods and local crafts at one of these busy markets, generally held once or twice a week at various spots all around the island, such as at Kilauea, Waimea, and Hanalei. Attending a market is not only a lot of fun, but helps support local farmers as well.

      It’s easy to cobble together an entire day’s outings without spending much more than a few dollars for gas or a modest fee for a cultural tour. Stop by the Kauai Visitor Bureau (4334 Rice St. in Lihue) to pick up brochures on a self-guided historic walking tour of Lihue, for example, or the Koloa Heritage Trail, a guide to one of the island’s most diverse districts. There are also tours of Waimea Plantation ($10), f-ree walking tours of Waimea every Monday, and slack-key guitar concerts on Sundays and Fridays in Hanalei ($20, but a portion goes to the local community center).

      Po'ipuWhile at the Visitor’s Bureau, be sure to check on times and locations for f.ree hula shows and concerts. Many of the larger resorts, such as the Marriott and Hilton, have evening torch-lighting ceremonies, but there are also hula shows at the airport several times weekly and at several large shopping malls, including the Coconut Marketplace in Kapa’a and the Kukui Grove Shopping Center in Lihue. (Be sure to check with the Visitor’s Bureau for a current schedule.) For an affordable night-time activity, consider going to the luau extravaganza at Smith’s Tropical Paradise – especially inexpensive if you forgo the luau dinner and just come for the show in the torch-lit “Pele Amphitheater” ($15 for adults and $7.50 for children).

      One of the f.ree activities I most enjoyed was a visit to the Kauai Coffee Company’s plantation near Poipu. Most people do not realize that Hawaii’s largest coffee plantation is located not on the Big Island, but on the island of Kauai. Visitors can take a f.ree self-guided tour of Kauai’s environmentally friendly coffee estate by navigating a large “coffee maze” that features informative exhibits on how coffee is grown and processed. Finish the tour by stopping at the Visitor Center to sample several dozen freshly brewed blends. The shop there offers a dizzying array of specialty blend coffees, and even green coffee beans so that connoisseurs can try their hand at roasting their own.

      Another attraction that is well worth its modest $5 entrance fee is Kilauea Lighthouse. From the point where the historic lighthouse (built in 1913) sits, visitors have a stunning vista of the coastline, not to mention ample opportunity to watch sea birds such as frigate birds, albatross, red- and white-tailed tropic birds, and nene, the state bird. This is also a very good spot for winter whale watching, so bring a pair of binoculars or borrow a pair from the visitor center next to the lighthouse.

      Wailua Falls after heavy rainsEven rainy days, which were frequent this past winter, can be fun on Kauai. Rainfall adds to the power of the island’s many spectacular waterfalls, not to mention produces the island’s signature rainbows. I even spotted a triple rainbow one afternoon arcing over Waimea Canyon, an unforgettable sight. Stormy weather produces impressive crashing waves along the coast, especially on the North Shore, and while such conditions preclude swimming, counting the “sets” between the truly huge waves can be an entertaining guessing game.

      With so many affordable ways to enjoy Kauai, it probably won’t be long before tourism is once again on the rise on the island. In the meantime, visitors will find not only are there bargains at hand, but their business is especially appreciated.

      For further information, visit one of the island’s helpful vacation-planning websites, such as Discover Kauai, Kuaui Vacation Explorer, Princeville Vacations, or the Kauai Visitors Bureau.



      Hilton Hot Summer Deals

      This summer, you can save at Hilton hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Latin America with Hilton Advance Purchase rates offering savings up to 30 percent.

      With Hilton Advance Purchase, you plan ahead and must reserve three weeks before your stay. In return, you get a discounted rate. Rates are per room, per night, based on double occupancy and do not include taxes, service charges and/or resort fees. The offer is subject to availability and seasonal variations. The lowest available rate is with a 21 day advanced purchase and there may be length of stay requirements, day of week restrictions and blackout dates. Advance purchase rates are non-refundable and full payment in advance is required.

      Through Aug. 31, 2009, starting rates for Hilton hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America are listed below. When booking, request booking code SO.

      Caribbean:
      Hilton Santo Domingo - from $129; Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort - from $144; Hilton Trinidad & Conference Centre - from $169; Hilton Kingston Jamaica - from $119; British Colonial Hilton Nassau - from $164; Hilton Curacao - from $161; Caribe Hilton, San Juan - from $174; Hilton Barbados - from $219

      Latin America:
      Hilton Papagayo Costa Rica Resort & Spa - from $129; Hilton Cartagena - from $135; Hilton Buenos Aires - from $169; Hilton São Paulo Morumbi - from $202.

      Hilton Hotels or 800/HILTONS.



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