Millions of travelers will stay overnight in national parks this summer. Many will pay more than necessary for a room, according to Xanterra Parks & Resorts, operator of lodges in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and other national parks.
The popularity of online travel has prompted Internet reservations companies that specialize in reserving rooms and tours in national parks and gateway communities.
These reservations companies, some with names and graphics that lead you to believe you are dealing with the National Park Service, charge a service fee of up to 10 percent of the total room or tour price. These fees are unnecessary and can be avoided if you book directly with concessioners like Xanterra.
Xanterra offers free online reservations services for all of the national parks and resorts it operates. Xanterra's reservations employees assist and advise travelers who wish to make their arrangements by phone.
Internet reservations services providers operate by taking travelers' contact, credit card and travel preference information over the Internet. Since they are unable to directly book Xanterra-operated guest rooms, these companies call Xanterra to book the rooms or activities, adding an extra and unnecessary step to the room-reservation process.
National park lodges are owned by the National Park Service and managed by contract with concessioners such as Xanterra Parks & Resorts. The National Park Service regulates the prices of guest rooms, tours, restaurant menu items and gift shop items by comparing them to
comparable offerings in national park gateway communities.
Here are ways to distinguish between authorized concessioners and Internet booking services:
Look for language that identifies the operator of the site as the "authorized provider of concession services within a park." Often, a single concessioner operates lodging within a given national park. The National Park Service website, www.nps.gov, lists authorized concessioners at every national park.
Watch out for claims about occupancy. Reservations services may try to paint a bleak picture of room availability inside the park to get customers to book outside the park and generate a higher fee. One reservations service lists in-park sold-out dates for Yellowstone although plenty of rooms are still available in that park this summer.
Look for inaccuracies. One reservation service in Yellowstone describes the 1916 Old Faithful Lodge as the "park's newest lodge." Several lodges have been built in the 88 years since the Old Faithful Lodge opened, including two in 1999.
Beware of services that claim access to rooms "even when the park is sold out." Internet reservations services do not hold room blocks. The Xanterra website lists availability of rooms on any given date.
Don't believe all posted information about the national park. The best source for national park information is the National Park Service website, www.nps.gov.
Beware of misleading or "official-looking" images. One site prominently posts a picture of a national park sign with the official National Park Service logo. To a casual website user, the
image might appear to translate to "official" endorsement from the National Park Service.
Watch for oversimplified pricing structures. One reservations provider books "premium" and "economy" rooms in Yellowstone National Park. With nine lodges and more than 2,000 rooms within Yellowstone, offerings are extensive and pricing is varied. A two-tiered pricing structure is not adequate to explain the park's offerings.
Beware of sites that mix in-park lodging with those outside of the park. Many lodges in national park gateway communities are named after nearby parks and appear to be within the park boundaries.
Some Internet reservations services companies call themselves travel agencies. That claim is misleading. Travel agents collect a commission to book accommodations and then act as
middleman between the traveler and travel provider. The Internet reservations services merely make the reservation for a fee.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts.
Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage|
There's no mistaking your luggage with the NEW 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.
Traveling With Health Conditions
For millions of travelers with major health conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis, preparing for travel requires more than choosing a destination and packing a suitcase.
Whether driving or flying, there are ways to make traveling with a health condition or with someone who is managing a health condition, a stress-free situation. Travel anxiety can be alleviated through careful preparation by focusing on exploring new destinations, not on the minute-by-minute management of a health condition. Diabetes in particular can be easily managed on the road when proper preventative measures are taken.
People with diabetes should keep these tips in mind before and during travel:
Understand Your Health Insurance Plan. Wherever the destination, call ahead to understand how your health care plan works in that area. In case of an emergency, wear a medical identification bracelet and carry a letter from a health care professional that outlines your medical conditions and allergies.
Double Up On Necessities. Pack twice as many diabetes supplies and medications than you would typically need. The extra supplies will come in handy if unforeseen situations -- flight delays, misplaced supplies or illness -- should arise.
Pack With a Purpose. Carry medications and supplies at all times. Never pack medications in checked luggage. With heightened airport security, carry a letter from a health care professional stating your medical history, doctor's contact information and any medications you
are carrying. This letter can easily be obtained through a health care professional.
Prepare For a Missed Meal. A missed meal can have a severe effect on blood sugar levels. Carry fruit, crackers, meal bars or shakes designed for people with diabetes and help manage blood sugar levels.
Avoid a Zone Out. If traveling to a time zone that's a three-hour change or greater, modify the time your diabetes medication or insulin is taken. Discuss arrangements with a health
care professional prior to traveling.
For more tips on traveling with diabetes, visit Glucerna or the American Diabetes Association (ADA)'s Web site.
When traveling with arthritis or joint inflammation, it is important to plan ahead to ensure that special needs can be met.
Sign Up For a Spacious Seat. On airplanes, inquire about a seat with extra legroom. This will allow you to spread out and avoid feeling "crunched" in a seat.
Reserve the Right Room. At hotels, request a handicapped access room or a room in close to the elevator.
Request Refrigeration. If traveling with medications that need to be kept cool, ask train or airline personnel to refrigerate medications while on board or in flight.
There are conditions, such as deep vein thrombosis, that can develop while traveling.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a deep vein blood clot, can develop from prolonged sitting in a single position and dehydration, often a part of traveling. Travelers who are pregnant, over 40 or obese are at a heightened risk. If at increased risk for developing DVT, contact your physician prior to traveling.
Get Physical. Stretch and walk as often as possible. Exercising legs at least once an hour, especially during long-distance travel will help prevent DVT.
Dress For Success. Wear loose fitting clothes to stay comfortable and allow for proper circulation.
Rehydrate With Water. Carry a bottle of water at all times to keep well hydrated.
Tuscany Rentals From $549 Per Week
Splendida Italia, a subsidiary of Picasso Travel, offers special apartment rentals for up to four people at one of three country estates (Fattorias) in the Chianti region of Tuscany, Italy. The price of the weekly rental varies by the season --$549 in low, $899 in mid and $1159 in high. Splendida Italia includes six complimentary bottles of wine and two bottles of olive oil produced by the estate upon arrival.
Low season runs fSep. 25 to Dec. 18; 2004; mid-season is Aug. 28 to Sep. 25 and Dec. 18 to Jan. 8, 2005. High season runs through Aug. 28, 2004.
Each of the three country estates -- Pratale, Querceto and Montignana -- have recently been restored and divided into a small number of apartments of varying sizes with kitchens and separate entrances. All estates have outdoor swimming pools (used only in the summer) and laundry facilities and are tastefully furnished in Tuscan-style appointments. The apartments are
available only on a weekly rental basis beginning each Saturday.
Since Spendida Italia is a subsidiary of Picasso Travel, they can help find the best airfare rates to Italy when you book the rental units.
Splendida Italia or 800/462-8875.
Plane spotting at LAX
It’s been a time-honored pastime in Los Angeles for residents young and old. Now the city of El Segundo, adjacent to the world-famous airport, is getting into the act.
To serve aviation buffs and others wishing to get a terrific glimpse of the variety of aircraft landing and taking off from LAX, El Segundo invested $150,000 in developing a formal overlook plaza on Imperial Hill, above Imperial Highway. The plaza's comfortable setting features telescopes, decorative sidewalks, benches, tables with built-in checkerboards, and, most importantly, unobstructed views of planes.
For more information, contact the City of El Segundo or 310/524-2300.
Live Among the Locals|
Forget about staying in a boring hotel. Live among the locals in a house or flat. We at Coach House London Vacation Rentals are the leading specialist in short term central London rentals. We represent over 60 properties that sleep from 2 to 12 people. Each rental comes with a neighborhood guide, breakfast provisions for the first day or two of your stay, a telephone help line, and what to do and see.
Coach House London Vacation Rentals.
United Low Fares, Double Miles to Cody
United Airlines offers introductory fares from $60 each way, based on roundtrip travel, and a double miles bonus for its new seasonal service from
Denver to Cody, Wyoming. The new service operates through Sep. 30, 2004.
Sample introductory fares each way, based on required roundtrip travel, include: Boston $140, Chicago $120, Denver $60, Los Angeles $100, Miami $140, New York City $140, Portland, OR $80, Salt Lake City $60, San Francisco $100, and Washington, D.C. $140.
The fares are valid for travel through Aug. 2, 2004, and are valid for travel on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday only. A seven-day advance purchase and Saturday night minimum stay are required.
To receive double miles on qualifying flights, frequent flyer members must register prior to departure. Click here for online registration.
“Live Like A New Yorker” Value-Priced Furnished Apartments
Take advantage of Metro-Home’s summer and fall rates and book by Aug. 15, 2004. After that date, rates go up for the first time in five years.
Metro-Home offers short-term and extended stay housing for corporate employees and individuals. Popular with business travelers throughout Europe and Asia, these fully furnished residences have traditionally been called “service apartments.
Summer specials, good until Aug. 15, 2004, are as follows: Two-bedrooms $275 per night, one-bedrooms $189 per night and studios $149 per night.
Autumn specials: studios for $185 per night, one-bedrooms for $225 per night and
two-bedrooms for $325 per night.
A studio apartment will increase from $165 to $185 per night. One-bedrooms will increase from $195 to $225 per night. Two-bedrooms will increase from $295 to $325 per night.
This home-away-from-home is a hotel alternative, with prices ranging from budget to luxury for accommodations of all sizes on tree-lined streets in New York’s nicest neighborhoods from Midtown to West-End Avenue.
You can book on a nightly, weekly or monthly basis, and need only bring a suitcase to the fully furnished apartments. All the creature comforts are provided, including a fully stocked kitchen, linens and towels, cable TV, telephone with dataport for Internet access and answering machine, laundry facilities and more.
A free robe and breakfast treats in the apartment are included with every booking for a week or longer. Rates are good Sep. 15 thru Dec. 1, 2004.
Last minute specials are listed on the website.
Metro-Home or 800/987-1235.
Save up to $200 in 2005
Demand for leisure vacations is on the upswing. To help travelers find the best options for flights and hotels, TransGlobal Vacations offers up to $200 as an early booking discount.
Enter or mention promo code EBDHUG when booking to receive up to $200 off per reservation for departures through Dec. 15, 2004. Vacations must be booked at least 60 days in advance of travel.
TransGlobal Vacations’ list of flights for winter 2005 departures now include Cancun, the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, Jamaica, Las Vegas, Mazatlan, Puerto Plata, Puerto Vallarta, and Punta Cana. Getaways to Ixtapa will be available soon.
Getaways to Cancun with three nights’ hotel accommodations at the all-inclusive Riu Cancun start at $769.99. This package is valid for Monday departures Jan. 10-24, 2005.
Three-nights in Cozumel with hotel accommodations at the all-inclusive Reef Club Cozumel start at $599.99. Valid for Wednesday departures Jan. 5-Feb. 2, 2005.
Seven nights’ at the all-inclusive Starfish Trelawny Beach & Fun Resort in Jamaica start at $919.99. Valid for a Sunday departure Jan. 23, 2005.
Las Vegas getaways start at $419.99 with four nights’ hotel accommodations at Treasure Island. Valid for a Monday departure Dec. 20, 2004.
Air-only travel to Mazatlan is $499.99 per person for seven-night stays with Monday or Friday departures Jan. 3-Feb. 4, 2005.
Protect Luggage with Baggage Guard Seals |
The pre- numbered, one-time use plastic padlocks are the perfect way to protect your luggage since they cannot be reinstalled once removed. That feature lets you instantly know if someone tampered with your luggage. Yet when TSAs at airports need to inspect your luggage, Baggage Guard Seals can be easily removed. A package of 10 Baggage Guard Seals is still only $9.95.
Click Here to Order.
Free Ritz-Carlton Stay with Emirates NY Service
Emirates Airlines inaugurated service between New York and Dubai. Through Aug. 31, first class passengers on daily nonstop flights are entitled to three free nights at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai plus $150 in shopping vouchers per person at the BurJuman Shopping Centre. Business class passengers get two free nights at The Ritz-Carlton and $100 in shopping vouchers per person.
In addition, all first class and business class passengers flying from New York are offered a free, five-course dinner with champagne and wine at The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park or The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park on the evening of departure, with pick up at each hotel for transportation to JFK and curbside concierge meet-and-assist.
Passengers may arrange for dinner when making reservations with a travel agent or the airline directly, who will advise the traveler of dinner timing and airport transfer pick up time.
|Intro Rates at New Miami Hotel|
The stylish Conrad Miami opens its doors with a promotional rate of $100 per night. This limited-time, deeply-discounted nightly rate is a celebration of the new hotel and Conrad brand launch in the U.S. The grand opening rate is good for stays through Sep. 12, 2004.
Each of the 203 guest rooms is finely appointed with contemporary furniture and features a pillow menu, two phone lines, personalized stationery, 27-inch flat-screen TV and DVD player and a separate bathtub and shower plus a bath service menu in conjunction with Spa Conrad. The hotel also offers complimentary Hi-Fi and Wi-Fi throughout the building.
On the outside deck, two tennis courts and a hot tub flank the large rooftop pool. Inside, the luxury spa and fitness center offers Sonia Dakar-trained specialists and Life Fitness-exercise equipment. The hotel offers a state-of-the-art business center with meetings facilities equipped with plasma screen TVs, ergonomic chairs and a meetings concierge.
Located in the heart of Miami’s financial district, the concave glass and steel building will surely become a recognized icon on the Miami skyline.
Conrad Miami or 800/HILTONS.
Velvet Ice Cream Company's Ohio Inns Sweepstakes will accept entries through Labor Day, Sep. 6. Enter online at the company’s website, where complete contest rules are found. Nine randomly drawn entrants will be treated to a night's stay for two adults at one of nine inns around the state.
After becoming a smash hit in 2003, the Ohio-based ice cream maker decided to repeat the sweepstakes this year and added three new inns to the program, making it "Nine for the 90th." Inns participating in the sweepstakes are: Buxton Inn, the Granville Inn, the Inn at Brandywine Falls, the Inn at Cedar Falls, the Inn at Honey Run, Landoll's Mohican Castle, Murphin Ridge Inn, the White Oak Inn, and the Worthington Inn. Winners will be drawn on Sep. 20.
All entrants will receive a booklet of Velvet Ice Cream recipes created by the chefs of each inn.
Velvet Ice Cream Company
Cheap Tix Chart
Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets
sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theatrical productions, films, and
sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go
Publishing’s NEWLY UPDATED Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the
U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets.
|Jaguar Reef Lodge 40% Off Peak Rate|
The Jaguar Reef Lodge, on the central coast of Belize, sits on seven miles of sandy beach on the Caribbean coast. The lodge offers easy access to diving and snorkeling on the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere.
Rates during the "Green Season," through Dec. 14, start at $149 double occupancy for cabanas, which is 40 percent off peak season rates.
The family-friendly lodge, on 300 acres of Jaguar habitat, is a short drive from the world's first-ever jaguar preserve -- a sanctuary for one of the largest and most endangered cats in the Americas.
Guests can choose guided tours and activities to explore the natural wonders of Belize's diverse wildlife and landscape from cave rappelling to climbing Mayan ruins. Free kayaks and mountain bikes are provided by the lodge.
The lodge recently acquired a private 20-acre island, Coco Plum Cay, 30-minutes from its dock, where guests can stay in one of five brightly colored beach front cabanas and dine on fresh fish caught in local waters.
Jaguar Reef Lodge 800/289-5756.
|Intro Rates at Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa|
Western Canada's newest luxury oceanfront resort, the contemporary timber-and-glass Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa, is on a pristine inlet on British Columbia's Vancouver Island near the city of Victoria.
As part of the opening season celebration, Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa offers a "First Night is On Us" promotion, which gives you a free night's stay in one of the resort's ocean-view rooms with a booking of two or more nights. Introductory room rates start at $495 CDN (approximately $367 US) nightly based on double occupancy. This offer is available until Oct. 15, 2004.
The lodge, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, features 33 OceanSuites with king beds, bathrooms with double-jetted tubs and body massage showers, fireside sitting areas, private patios or balconies, handcrafted contemporary furnishings, DVD
entertainment systems and high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access.
The resort is 10 minutes from Victoria International Airport, B.C. ferries, Washington State ferry services and the city of Victoria.
Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa or 888/544-2079.
|Marriott Vacation Club Summer Packages|
Summer stays in a family-friendly villa at Marriott Vacation Club resorts include accommodations in a two-bedroom, two-bath villa that comfortably sleeps six people and includes a fully equipped kitchen, separate living and dining areas, a private balcony and even washer/dryer.
Here's a sampling of the summer savings at Marriott Vacation Club resorts worldwide.
Orlando: Stay four days and three nights at Marriott's Grande Vista and get two adult passes to either Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando or Universal Orlando for less than $600 per night plus tax.
Palm Beach, Aruba. Reserve six nights at Marriott's Aruba Surf Club for $440 per night, and get the seventh night free, plus a free rental car from Hertz for five days.
Lake Tahoe, CA. At Marriott Grand Residence Club, A three-night package for $557 includes a $50 Harvey's Casino certificate.
Kauai, Hawaii. Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club, on Poipu Beach costs $299 nightly for the "Paradise Plus" rate and includes a $30 daily credit at the on-site MarketPlace.
Marriott Vacation Club or 800/845-5279.
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Grapevine Grapefest Sep 9 -12, 2004. Sample award-winning Texas wines, live music, vintner's auction, tennis classic,
ItalianCarFest and the competitive Grape Stomp. 817/4103185.
|YOUR AD HERE F0R 0NLY $39! BUY THREE CLASSIFIED ADS GET ONE FREE. Want more TARGETED traffic to your site? Reach more than 180,000 travelers who use your services or products. Get the scoop and reserve your spot today.
|The Latest “Specials” at Connecticut hotels, charming B&B, historic inns and other attractions. A click of the mouse gets the hottest deals around the Constitution State, plus package dates and some direct links to each property. http://www. 52 Getaways or 800/282-6863.
|Gambler's General Store -- The world's largest gambling superstore with slots, video poker, dice, craps, roulette, books, software and more.
Gambler's General Store or 800/322-CHIP.
|Go Boston Card -- free admission to 25 top attractions, 2-day hop-on, hop-off trolley pass, $700 in discounts at shops and restaurants, free gifts, and a 132 page full-color pocket guidebook. www.GoBostonCard.com
154th Fryeburg Fair
Oct 3 - 10 - Visit Maine's largest fair during foliage time. Craft demonstrations, harness racing, nightly big-name entertainment.
|FREE GARNET Necklace & Bracelet -- Direct from a famous jewelry workshop. While supplies last. Limit 4 necklaces and 4 bracelets per person. ACT RIGHT NOW. click here to order.
|DINNER AT 35,000 FEET What meals will you get on your flight?
Get behind the scenes at airline catering. Preview first- and
business-class menus and see pictures of actual airline meals, photographed and contributed by passengers.
More than 330 airlines represented.
Learn what your meals will probably be.
the online recreational vehicle publication, features raw reviews of RV parks based on real RVers' experiences. RVShark includes RV for sale listings and an RV parks for sale section. RVShark is available free of charge.
The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.
Tell Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter readers about your products and services.
Click here for rates and information.
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