Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, August 2014 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2014
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Society for Contemporary Craft, Pittsburgh, PA
Palm Beaches Summer Family Rates
|With more than 47 miles of Florida beaches, water parks, animal encounters and entertainment, the Palm Beaches are a destination for a family getaway. Discover the Palm Beaches has rounded up hotel packages and deals on their summer travel site. In addition to exclusive hotel and resort offers, there are discounts on attractions, activities, exhibits, shopping and dining.
The following family-focused hotel specials and offers are available in the Palm Beaches. Blackout dates and restrictions may apply. See individual offer for complete details.
Families of four can unwind in a four-person suite at Cranes BeachHouse Hotel and Tiki Bar. Stay for two or more nights and get free tickets to Putt’n Around mini golf, two DVD rentals, free parking and a free Wi-Fi code. Valid through Oct. 2, 2014.
Jupiter Beach Resort and Spa’s two-night Livin’ La Vida Local package highlights outdoor adventure, with a tour of the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum for two, two vouchers for a paddleboard or kayak eco-tour, and Point-2-Point shuttle transportation. Additional persons can be added for a fee. Available through Sep. 30, 2014.
The Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa’s Little Loggerhead package rates start at $369. Valid through Sep. 1, the package includes milk and cookies on arrival, one-day access for four to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, one day of unlimited use of non-motorized watersports, one day use of two beach chairs and umbrella, and a $50 resort credit.
Double Tree by Hilton Hotel West Palm Beach Airport offers free breakfast for up to four people and free internet access. Valid through Dec.31, 2014.
The Breakers Palm Beach offers free breakfast, kid’s meals, Wi-Fi, and unlimited access to tennis courts and fitness classes. Valid through Dec. 17, 2014, the summer offer includes savings on spa, golf tee times, shopping and dining.
The new Waterstone Resort and Marina Boca Raton’s Paddle Room package includes accommodations, a $25 food credit, and a choice of ocean kayak ride or stand up paddle board ride. Valid through Sep. 30, 2014.
In Delray Beach, Wright by the Sea offers family budget-friendly rates from $99 per night (Monday to Thursday) for a one-bedroom ocean view apartment with kitchen and living/dining area. You have access to free cabanas and lounge chairs on the beach, heated pool, parking, wireless internet and daily newspaper. Valid through Sep. 30, 2014.
Room rates start at $149 per night at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. The resort offers free buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner when adults purchase a full-priced entrée.
Best Western Palm Beach Lakes Inn offers a $50 American Express gift card with any two-night stay. Valid through Sep. 30, 2014.
Through Sep. 30, 2014, kids 12 and under eat a free breakfast at the PGA National Resort & Spa plus free golf (after 2 p.m.) with each paying adult resort guest purchase of breakfast and/or green fees. The Weekends at the Wave summer celebrations and promotions feature family-friendly activities, entertainment and festivals.
Discover The Palm Beaches or 800/ 554-7256.
First Responder Rates at Downtown Disney
|Seven hotels in Walt Disney World in Orlando offer First Responders rates at Downtown Disney Resorts. The rates, valid through Sep. 30, 2014, apply to law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), doctors, and nurses.
The seven hotels provide free shuttle transportation every 30 minutes to all four Walt Disney World theme parks, two water parks, and to Downtown Disney Marketplace. You also receive the 2014 Downtown Disney Deals booklet, with discounts and special offers from more than 30 merchants in Downtown Disney. Other perks include the ability to purchase Disney tickets at each hotel, advance tee times and discounts at all Walt Disney World golf courses, Disney merchandise sold at each hotel, and the ability to book advance dining and dinner show reservations for all restaurants in Walt Disney World.
The participating hotels include:
- B Resort from $99 per night
- Best Western Lake Buena Vista Resort Hotel from $89 per night
- DoubleTree Suites by Hilton, starting at $109 per suite, per night
- Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista from $89 per night
- Holiday Inn Orlando—Lake Buena Vista from $94 per night
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort from $79 per night.
Downtown Disney Resorts.
Trafalgar Best Price Guarantee & Europe Deals
|Lock in early bird travel deals for next year's summer vacation. Trafalgar offers preview pricing of its 2015 Europe vacations available for early booking online. Preview pricing is available on select itineraries on the Trafalgar website identified as “Preview 2015” only, and is valid until Sep. 24, 2014. A non-refundable deposit is required to lock in 2014 price for 2015 departure.
For Trafalgar's 2015 Europe vacations, you can take up to an extra $1,700 off per couple by combining Trafalgar's 10 percent early payment discount with deposit through Sep. 24, 2014. If a trip goes down in price when Trafalgar releases its full brochure later this year, you will be refunded the difference.
Sample savings are based on European Supreme Preview itineraries departing June 22, 2015. Savings vary by itinerary, are not valid on all vacations and departure dates and are subject to availability.
Trafalgar takes care of all the details and guided vacations include a Travel director, VIP access to sites, hotels, many local meals, and coach transportation with free Wi-Fi.
If you’ve traveled with Trafalgar or any of its sister companies (Brendan Vacations, Insight Vacations, Contiki or Uniworld) within the last five years, you can save an additional five percent.
Trafalgar trips available for preview:
- 14-day Best of Italy
- 11-day Amazing Britain - comprehensive look at England and Scotland.
- 11-day Imperial Europe - cities of central Europe
- 10-day Spanish Wonder - Every side of Andalusia is explored
Trafalgar or or 866/544-4434.
WANT Expeditions Discounts 2014 Tours
|WANT Expeditions, provider of personalized, conservation-oriented small group travel, offers a 10 percent discount on all remaining 2014 expeditions open for booking. The discount will apply to each traveler on the reservation.
WANT offers other promotions that can be used with the 10 percent discount. Connect with WANT on LinkedIn and earn a $25 travel credit toward a future booking.
As part of the WANT Loyalty Club, you earn a $15 Loyalty Rewards Voucher for each day traveled, which can be used toward a prospective trip. The Club is free to join and lets you find like-minded adventurers with similar goals and tastes for future trips. Redeeming the vouchers is easy. Apply the vouchers at any time for any earned amount toward a trip for yourself or gift the vouchers to family and friends.
The discounted 2014 tours are to eight off-the-grid destinations including: Madagascar; Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east of Russia; and Ethiopia.
WANT Expeditions click on the “Destinations” page.
Savings on Three Backyard Travel Tours
|Backyard Travel, specializing in tours to Asia, offers a 10 percent discount on three insider tours to Indonesia.
Here are the three tours with discounted prices.
Meander the Mountains in Bali – On this three-day tour, see Bali in a convertible VW amphibious jeep. Drive to black lava fields, active volcanoes and ancient temples. From $328 per person. Valid until Aug. 31, 2014.
Jewels of West Java – The nine-day tour visits temples in Bandung, hot springs at the Tangkuban Perahand Volcano and cruises through the Green River Canyon near Pangandaran. From $,1529. Valid until Dec. 31, 2014.
Devotions and Diamonds: Four-day tour to the southern tip of Borneo. Stay in a lodge and explore floating markets, bamboo forests and learn about the local process of polishing diamonds. From $474. Valid until Aug. 31, 2014.
Backyard Travel .
Turks and Caicos Resorts Early Booking Bonus
|The Turks & Caicos Collection offers an early booking bonus for winter getaways.
The Turks & Caicos Collection consists of three resorts on Providenciales: Alexandra Resort www.alexandraresort.com, Beach House www.beachhousetci.com, and Blue Haven Resort and Marina www.bluehaventci.com.
Each resort features a unique guest experience, but all three offer accommodations, dining and spa facilities, attentive service, and a waterfront address.
Receive a 10 percent discount on regular rates at Alexandra Resort and Blue Haven Resort and Marina, or 20 percent off regular rates at Beach House. Winter getaways must be reserved by Oct. 31, 2014.
12 Day China Spree China Tour $1,599
|China Spree’s Middle Kingdom tour covers airfare, hotels, 23 meals, sightseeing and guides for $134 per day.
China Spree’s Middle Kingdom tour starts at $1,599 in winter—fall (spring prices are higher) and includes roundtrip flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles, (Houston and New York are more); all intra-China transportation; accommodations in four-star hotels with private bath; daily breakfast; eight lunches; five dinners; private sightseeing with entrance fees; culinary events; evening shows; tour guides in each city; and baggage handling throughout.
The Middle Kingdom tour presents the highlights of China, ancient and modern.
The journey starts in Beijing, with visits to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, climbing the Great Wall of China, gardens and the Marble Boat of the Summer Palace; and modern architecture such as the Bird’s Nest and CCTV Tower. Included is a rickshaw ride through Old Beijing’s alley hutongs, and lunch in a traditional courtyard home.
In Xian, you visit the Terracotta warriors and horses. In Marco Polo’s favorite, Hangzhou, you visit West Lake and the Dragon Well Tea Plantation, and the traditional gardens, canals and silk production in Suzhou. A side trip takes you to Tongli with its canals, cobbled lanes and Ming-style houses and shops.
The tour ends in Shanghai, where you view futuristic Pudong from the top of a skyscraper, visit the Bund, walk through Xin Tian Di, a refurbished traditional neighborhood with restaurants, bars and shops, and zoom to the airport on the world’s fastest magnetic levitation train.
Hotels include a Marriott, a Pan Pacific and the Traders Hotel Beijing by Shangri-La.
All prices are cash-only, are per person, double occupancy, and are subject to availability. Click “China Tours,” then “Specials” for the Middle Kingdom tour.
China Spree or 866/652-5656.
2014 Credit Card Auto Rental Insurance Report
|When you think of credit card perks, your mind may turn to rewards and low interest rates. However, credit cards provide standard benefits that help protect cardholders from monetary loss and unnecessary hassle.
One benefit is car rental collision protection, which is primarily driven by the card network (American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa) and not the card issuer.
For context, roughly 20 percent of car renters purchase supplemental insurance coverage when renting a car, according to a study from Progressive Insurance, and another 20 percent do so on occasion.
One reason for the supplemental insurance purchase is confusion as to whether personal auto insurance extends to rental cars. Indeed, 62 percent of consumers do not believe their personal auto insurance automatically covers rental cars, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Similarly, 24 percent aren’t sure whether their credit cards provide any sort of coverage either.
CardHub examines each major card network’s rental car insurance policy and explains what type of rental car insurance coverage you automatically receive through your credit cards. It also tells how you can take advantage of it, which credit cards offer the best insurance coverage, and whether any other forms of supplemental insurance are needed.
All four major card networks (American Express, Discover, MasterCard and Visa) provide some form of rental car insurance coverage.
MasterCard is the only network that does not provide coverage on all of its cards.
American Express receives the highest cumulative score (90%) for its rental car insurance policy, while Discover ranked second (88%), MasterCard ranked third (79%) and Visa ranked last (74%).
All four major networks require cardholders to charge their entire rental car purchase on their credit card and decline supplemental insurance/Collision Damage Waivers (CDW) offered by the rental company in order to be eligible.
None of the four major networks provides coverage for the rental of: 1) exotic, expensive, or antique cars; 2) trucks; 3) vehicles with open beds; or 4) off-road vehicles.
Visa is the only network that does not cover accidents occurring on dirt and gravel roads. MasterCard only covers accidents on dirt and gravel roads if they are “regularly maintained.”
All card networks exclude rentals that exceed specified time limits, and a lot of cards come with country limitations as well.
American Express is the only network not to provide coverage for renting certain popular SUVs – including the Suburban and Tahoe from Chevrolet, GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, Lincoln Navigator, Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX450, Range Rover, and full-sized Ford Bronco.
Call your insurance company and find out if rentals are covered under your standard auto policy. Older policies may not offer this coverage.
Call your credit card issuer and ask what limitations apply to the car rental coverage provided by your credit card.
Accept the liability insurance and collision damage waiver offered by the car rental company if you do not have personal auto insurance and your credit card does not provide sufficient coverage.
Long-term rentals may not be covered by your existing auto insurance, as time limitations may be imposed by your policy.
Your personal auto policy, if it covers rentals, only applies when the vehicle is used for personal use, so if you’re traveling for business check what other options are available for you.
Rent a car of similar value to your own car to increase the likelihood that your existing coverage is adequate for the rental car.
When your existing auto policy does not offer coverage for a particular type of rental car, ask about adding an insurance rider for a small fee.
If you are not a car owner but drive from time to time, consider purchasing a non-owner auto insurance policy.
TourCrafters’ Rome & Florence Special from $1,259
|TourCrafters offers a seven night, off-season package to Rome and Florence for $1,259 with roundtrip airfare from New York-JFK to Rome and Florence to JFK (add-on fares are available from other U.S. cities). This tour is available over Thanksgiving for $1,339.
In addition to airfare, the package price covers four nights’ accommodation in the three-star Rome Garden Hotel, three nights in the three-star Hotel Meridiana in Florence, a SMART class train ticket from Rome to Florence, and daily breakfast in both cities.
The price does not include airport taxes of $109, city taxes (must be paid in euros directly to the hotel), or the weekend supplement. TourCrafters offers daily departures Nov. 1 to Dec. 28, 2014. The package must be booked and paid in full by Aug. 28, 2014. Note: the fuel surcharge is included but is subject to change.
Off-season gets you lower prices and weather perfect for sightseeing. In Rome, you can visit the Coliseum and Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and relax in a sidewalk café. TourCrafters can arrange an optional tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums (Sistine Chapel), or an optional excursion to Naples and Pompeii.
In Florence, you can visit the cathedral with its dome, the baptistry with its celebrated doors and Giotto’s bell tower, Uffizi Gallery and Michelangelo’s David in the Academy of Fine Arts.
TourCrafters has a six-night independent Rome package for $1,193. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy and are subject to availability. To view the offers, click “Special Offers” and then “Deal of the Week.”
TourCrafters or 800/482-5995.
$89 Summer Rates at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs
|The Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix, AZ offers families summer rates from $89 that includes free VIP perks and programming. The $89 rate is available for stays through Sep. 7, 2014. Request rate code "SUNTC" when booking online.
Families can vacation at the all-suite mountainside resort that features eight private pools, a Falls Water Village with two large pools lined with 23 private cabanas, a water slide, poolside café and sport court.
Through Sep. 7, 2014, the resort offers the following free VIP experiences:
- Poolside morning Yoga stretch Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m. (mat included, ages 10 and up with accompanying adult)
- Wildlife World Zoo animal encounters Saturdays at 10 a.m.
- Dive-In Movies at the pool Saturdays at dusk
- Daily poolside games and crafts at the poolside Kids Korral every day of the week
- Poolside challenges and adventures including a giant water balloon sling-shot and inflatable water slide on Friday nights and Saturdays.
You can also take advantage of spa, dining and golf special deals. Teens and tweens can get glam with junior spa treatments such as the sweet pea manicure ($20) or spa princess package ($90). Golfers can play at the resort's Lookout Mountain Golf Club where summer tee times with club rentals start at $79 on select weekdays. Get savings and city views at the resort's mountaintop restaurant with a summer prix-fixe menu of three courses for $39.99 per person.
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort or 800/947-9784.
Club Med “Never-Ending Sun" Sale
|BOOK BY AUG. 8 - - Club Med, an all-inclusive resort company, offers the "Never-Ending Sun" sale. All-inclusive vacations start from $129 per person, per night. The $129 per person rate is based on double occupancy in a Club category room on select weeks at Ixtapa Pacific, Sandpiper Bay and Turkoise.
Prices on other dates or other resorts vary. The offer requires a three-night minimum stay (seven-night minimum for Columbus Isle). Rates do not include airfare. The offer is valid for new individual bookings for select travel dates through Feb. 13, 2015 and must be booked by Aug. 8, 2014, subject to capacity control and may increase at any time.
Children under four years of age stay free during summer, fall and winter travel dates. For flights booked through Club Med, travelers must pay for tickets for children. Children eligible for a free stay must stay in the same room as the adults who are paying for their stay, or in a connecting room.
Rates are valid at more than 45 Club Med resorts around the world, including Florida, the Caribbean, France, Italy, Greece and Morocco.
In addition to savings, book the "Never-Ending Sun" rate for stays before Oct. 31, 2014 and get extra perks from 25 percent off on suites at Ixtapa Pacific to 15 percent off at Sandpiper Bay, and 10 percent off air travel when booked through Club Med.
Club Med offers a vacation with activities to suit all interests and an active children's program for children from four months to 17 years old with dedicated amenities, games, activities and a circus school.
Club Med’s all-inclusive vacation includes in one price dining throughout the day with an open bar of premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, activities with professional instruction and equipment.
For Turkoise all guests must be 18 and older. Guests at Columbus Isle must be two and older. Club Med Membership fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional.
Club Med or 800/258-2633.
“I'm Stuck” App Connects Directly to Lawmakers
|Building America's Future and the U.S. Travel Association launch a co-branded “I'm Stuck” mobile phone app that will empower American travelers dealing with travel delays and frustrations. The app connects directly to your elected representatives, urging policymakers to take immediate action to upgrade America's aging transportation infrastructure and to replenish the Highway Trust Fund.
The Highway Trust Fund, the nation's main source of funding for roads, bridges, and highways, is set to run out of money in late summer unless federal lawmakers agree on a funding solution to sustain it.
Congress has known about infrastructure needs for a long time and failed to act. I'm Stuck will alert lawmakers to journeys that are too often plagued with delays that leave travelers sitting in travel purgatory. Now there's a simple way to urge Congress to find sensible solutions to these critical national priorities.
The mobile "I'm Stuck" app allows you to send a message directly to your U.S. representatives and senators whenever you are stuck in traffic on the highway, delayed on a bus or train, or sitting on the tarmac. BAF originally released the app in 2013. The new partnership with U.S. Travel extends the app to the travel industry and, through U.S. Travel's membership, to millions of additional American travelers.
Users can show elected officials why this is important by sending them a photo from wherever they are stuck. The new app also has specific messages for travelers stuck in highway traffic, urging Congress to act on the Highway Trust Fund.
>The app can be downloaded here and is available for the iPhone and Android phone.
Fall In Jamaica Up To 50 Percent Off
|Jamaica offers the Fall in Jamaica destination-wide vacation deal with savings of up to 50 percent.
It includes resort areas such as Negril for its Seven Mile beach, Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and the capital city of Kingston. More than 30 hotels plus attractions and restaurants participate in the island-wide deal, which is coordinated by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA).
The Fall in Jamaica promotion features accommodations from small hotels to large all-inclusive resorts. Select a personalized vacation that fits your lifestyle, interest and budget. You can book the promotion through Dec. 1, 2014, for travel from Aug. 25, 2014 to Dec. 15, 2014. No minimum night stay is required on hotel offers unless stated. Black-out dates may apply. Book here and use promo code Fall Deals www.getallrightjamaica.com
Jamaica Tourist Board.
Pieces of Fun Package
|The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, FL, offers the Pieces of Fun package. Rates for the package start at $239 per night.
The 998-room beachside resort includes amenities such as a Troon golf course, an interactive Westin Kids Club, the Heavenly Spa, two outdoor pools and fine dining.
A two night minimum stay is required and the package must be booked by Sep. 30, 2014. The package includes:
- A room upgrade, a $20 per night value
- A $100 resort credit per stay
- Free valet parking, valued at $26.50 per night
- A $25 American Express gift card
- Summer 2-4-1 savings card
Book by Aug. 17, 2014, and receive two tickets to The Art of Nathan Sawaya at the Hollywood Arts and Culture Center, a $20 value.
When booking, mention rate plan VACVIP14.
Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa or 866/716-8128.
Hard Rock Café Cancun Discounts
|The all-inclusive Hard Rock Café hotel in Cancun offers a number of discounts.
Several discounts are listed below:
Early Booking Discount - The sooner you book, the more you save. Receive up to 35 percent off and up to $1,800 Limitless Resort Credit at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Cancun.
The resort credit depends on length of your vacation and is applied per room, per stay. A 20 percent service fee will apply over the final price of all promotion transactions be it services or products. Book now and travel before Dec. 23, 2015.
Kids Stay Free - Book the Deluxe Family room and travel Jan. 4, 2015 to Dec. 23, 2015. Two kids ages 12 and under stay free at the all-inclusive resort when they share a room with an adult. A 20 percent service fee will apply over the final price of all promotion transactions be it services or products.
Make it Rain Unlimited Golf - Book three nights or more and receive up to $1,800 Limitless Resort Credit for use toward tours, golf, spa and salon services, romantic and special dinner events, upgraded wine selection at restaurants, photo packages. The resort credit does not apply to special events or weddings, and select Colin Cowie Weddings Collection. A 20 percent service fee will apply over the final price of all promotion transactions be it services or products.
45% Off Hard Rock Suite - Book three nights or more and receive 45 percent off in a Rock Suite Platinum. The offer for travel is good until Dec. 31, 2014 for new reservations only. This promotion is for U.S. residents only. Book now for travel: Aug. 18 to Nov. 21; and Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, 2014.
The promotion does not apply for reservations with employee rate, travel agent rate, FAMS, free or compensatory stays.
Hard Rock Café Cancun.
Win a $500 Rail Europe Gift Card
|Rail Europe, a distributor of European rail products in North America, has an exclusive offer for travelers planning to explore European destinations by Eurostar, including Paris, London and Brussels.
Through Aug. 7, 2014, book any Eurostar train ticket and be automatically entered for a chance to receive one of 10 $500 Rail Europe Gift Cards.
The sweepstakes is open to all residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 21 years of age or older. Ten prize winners will be selected in a random drawing from eligible entries received by Aug. 15, 2014. Winners receive a $500 Rail Europe Gift Card. Eligible participants may only win one prize. See this page for official rules.
The gift card award can be used on any Rail Europe product, including train tickets, rail passes and activities.
Eurostar prices begin at $71.
Rail Europe or 888/382-7245
Save Up to 50% with Orlando September Savings
|Visit Orlando offers 30 days of savings up to 50 percent off during Magical Deal Month this September. An aggregator for Orlando's top deals, Visit Orlando is where you find more than 150 theme park offers, discounted hotel rates and dining deals.
Orlando's theme parks, restaurants, attractions and accommodations are all offering deals. Offers include:
- SeaWorld Orlando – Save up to $400 with a Kids Free Vacation package for up to five nights: One free child's admission to SeaWorld included with each paid adult (save $90 per child for up to two children).
- Universal Orlando Resort – Four-night hotel accommodations, three-day park-to-park ticket to Universal Studios and Universal's Islands of Adventure, breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks and early park admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Walt Disney World Resort – Free dining plan with purchase of a non-discounted six-night Magic Your Way package (includes room and theme park tickets) at select Disney Resort hotels. Book by Aug. 8, 2014.
- Avanti Resort – 40 percent off
- Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista - $40 rate
- Rosen Inn - $50 rate
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort – 30 percent off, kids eat free for breakfast
- Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month - More than 75 of Orlando's top restaurants offer three-course, prix-fixe dinners for $33, through Sep. 30, 2014.
- La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – Tickets from $49
- Enzian Theatre – 2 for 1 tickets
- Capone's Dinner & Show – 50 percent off
Visit Orlando September deals or 800/551-0181.
Lowest Rates of 2014 at Harbour Village Beach Club
|The year's lowest rates are available for autumn escapes to Harbour Village Beach Club in Bonaire, Dutch Antilles. Bonaire's leeward location makes it outside of the hurricane belt.
A member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Harbour Village Beach Club offers off-season rates for stays through Dec. 20, 2014. The hotel is on a four-acre private peninsula with beachfront suites and an onsite PADI Instructor Development Center with onsite scuba certification and classes for adults and children.
As cold-weather approaches, you can don mask and fins and dive 50 yards out from the resort’s beach to the shipwreck of the 60-foot "Our Confidence," a spot for beginners that can be seen by snorkelers from the surface.
Bonaire diving packages are available for non-certified and certified divers and include a seven-night stay, breakfast, airport transfers and unlimited use of the fitness center, paddle board and kayaks.
Harbour Village Beach Club offers a children's program that lets youngsters experience Bonaire underwater. It includes supplied air snorkeling for kids ages five and older, bubble maker for ages eight and older and the dive instruction and certification program for ages 10 and older.
Harbour Village's accommodations include lanais and double hammocks. The resort is home the La Balandra Restaurant and Bar and a spa. A private cascade pool and pool deck offer a retreat before or after a treatment.
Harbour Village Beach Club or 800/424-0004.
Free Fun Pittsburgh by Nicki and Harold Chodnoff
| Pittsburgh may have been built around the steel and coal industries, but the once-sooty city now features a beautiful downtown river walk, multi-cultural neighborhoods and restaurants, and even free subway rides.
Best of all there are free things to do and see in Pittsburgh in addition to the free transportation. Here are some of the free things we experienced.
Nationality Rooms Pittsburgh may have been built around the steel and coal industries, but the once-sooty city now features a beautiful downtown river walk, multi-cultural neighborhoods and restaurants, and even free subway rides.
Best of all there are free things to do and see in Pittsburgh. Here are some of the free things we experienced.
Nationality Rooms Cathedral of Learning - Located on the University of Pittsburgh campus, the Nationality Rooms were designed to represent the culture of ethnic groups that settled in Allegheny County and are supported by these cultural groups and governments.
Nationality Rooms are located on the first and third floors of the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. The Nationality Rooms are actually classrooms used by the University for lectures and learning. When school is in session during the Fall and Spring semesters, audiotape tours are only available on weekends. Group tours are conducted year round.
You can take the free self-guided tour or the audio tape tour, which costs $4 and allows access to all the rooms on the first floor which may be under lock and key. When we visited in late May, nearly all the first floor Nationality Rooms were open and accessible.
If you visit any of the Nationality Rooms when it is a national or religious holiday of the nations represented, there are celebrations on campus where rooms are decorated to reflect these occasions.
The striking Gothic-style Cathedral of Learning is worth a visit even without stepping foot into the Nationality Rooms. The building is not what you would typically think of as a university building. Composed of a steel frame concealed by walls made of Indiana limestone, it stands 42 stories tall and is magnificent. The lobby and common areas can easily pass as a set for a Harry Potter Hogwarts scene.
Metered parking is available close by. The facility is camera friendly.
Pittsburgh Glass Center - 5472 Penn Avenue - about four miles east of the Strip District in the east neighborhood area. No surprise here. This place is all about glass. Displays range from work by internationally acclaimed contemporary artists to award-winning work by local schools. Visit during open hours you can take a self-guided tour to see the contemporary glass exhibitions and displays, explore the studios and meet artists if they are working. When classes are taking place or a glass artist is working, you can watch glassblowing demonstrations from the bleachers, which we found fascinating. We were lucky enough to watch glassblowing and speak with the artist, getting an explanation about the process.
Admission to the center is free; however, there is a $5 suggested donation. Free parking is available in the adjacent lot or you can look for a parking spot on-street.
Society for Contemporary Craft - 2100 Smallman Street. In the Strip District, you can park right in front of the building for $5 all day which lets you shop the varied stores nearby. Housed in the former Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction and Sales Building, the Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC) is a non-profit institution focused on contemporary craft which offers exhibition space and a store. The Center puts on approximately three shows per year, displayed in the exhibition space. They offer a Drop-In studio, developed by one of the artist exhibitors who prepares a self-instructed, free hands-on activity project for adults and children that ties into the gallery exhibition. If you are really into craft, there are many classes, some that last an hour or two, for which you can sign up. Check their website under the studio tab. The store part of the center sells crafts by artists from around the country including jewelry, ceramics, glass, fiber, and furniture. Art seems to be everywhere in the center including the hallways and rest rooms.
There’s a satellite gallery in the BNY Mellon Building (in the lobby of the Steel Plaza T-Station) at Oliver and Grant streets in downtown Pittsburgh
If you paid $5 for all day parking, while in the Strip District meander the stretch of streets and shops. Long home to Pittsburgh's fruit, meat and fish wholesalers, the Strip District has kept many of those businesses while adding specialty food stores, restaurants, shops, street vendors, produce markets and artisans who sell their wares.
Be prepared for a global food adventure. Several blocks along Penn Avenue feature Italian bakeries, Vietnamese noodle shops, and stores specializing in Italian, Mexican, Oriental, Polish, Greek, and Middle Eastern food, along with a large fresh fish market that sells sushi and sandwiches. There are also specialty coffee and tea shops, vegetarian restaurants and neighborhood bars, all fun to browse.
Point State Park and Blockhouse - One of the best free things to do begins where Pittsburgh was founded.
Take a look inside the only remaining original building from Fort Pitt, located in Point State Park. The blockhouse has some interesting artifacts, and you can look out through the gun loops. Constructed in 1764, it was originally a British defensive redoubt for Fort Pitt during the French and Indian War, built at the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio rivers. During the American Revolution Fort Pitt was the western headquarters for the Continental Army. Under the guardianship of the Fort Pitt Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Allegheny County the Block House has remained free and open to the public as a historical site and museum for more than 100 years.
The blockhouse is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but the surrounding Point State Park is open daily and always free. It’s a great place for picnics, bike rides, runs and people watching. The park connects to a river walk that stretches along both shores of the Allegheny River. It's easy to walk across to the north side of town on historic steel bridges named after baseball star Roberto Clemente, artist Andy Warhol, and environmentalist Rachel Carson.
Point State Park is a lovely downtown green space. Spring through fall, the large fountain sprays water up to 150 feet in the air at the head of the Ohio River. You can sit on the point in front of the fountain, walk around or relax and just watch the river traffic, The scenery is great (here’s your photo opp which is also lovely at sunset). From this site, you can see Mount Washington across the river and spot Heinz Field, PNC Park, the Science Center, the outline of Fort Duquesne.
The park is the setting for major events including the Venture Outdoors Festival, Three Rivers Arts Festival and Three Rivers Regatta.
Rodef Shalom Biblical Botanical Garden, 4905 Fifth Ave. In Pittsburgh’s Shadyside area, you can walk through a Biblical botanical garden on the grounds of Rodef Shalom. Public tours, held rain or shine, are on the first Wednesday of June, July, August, and September. Tours start at 12:15 P.M. and are led by a trained docent. Whether you explore on your own or take the public tour, there is no charge and no reservations needed. Plus there’s free parking.
The garden displays more than 100 temperate and tropical plants once grown in ancient Israel, including cedars, dates, figs, olives, and pomegranates. Biblical plants and plants with biblical names are featured.
It’s a way to see the Holy Land, ancient Israel, without leaving the U.S. The garden is set with a cascading waterfall, a desert, a bubbling stream, and the Jordan River which meanders through the garden from Lake Kineret to the Dead Sea. All plants are labeled and a biblical verse accompanies each plant.
The Frick Art Museum, Car & Carriage Museum, 7227 Reynolds St. and greenhouse all are free.
The Frick Art and Historical Center includes Clayton, the turn-of-the-20th-century home of industrialist and steel titan Henry Clay Frick, which preserves the original furnishings and art; a car and carriage museum; the Frick Art Museum, which possesses a small but choice collection of old master works; and a Victorian greenhouse. Tours of Clayton have an admission fee of about $12 and reservations are suggested. Clayton takes you back to America's Gilded Age, when industrialists amassed vast fortunes and spent lavishly on homes, art, and antiques
The Frick Art Museum showcases many of the old masters Frick collected, although the majority of his art collection is displayed at the Frick Collection in New York City in the townhouse the family occupied after 1905. Clayton and the art collection were preserved by his daughter, Helen, who arranged for them to be accessible to the public. At the art museum, you can take your time viewing the best that robber baron money can buy. The museum is small but the art is classic and beautiful. We seemed to be the only people in the museum during our visit.
Also on the property is a Car and Carriage Museum in the former carriage house and garage. You physically have to leave the Art Museum, going outside to enter the Car and Carriage Museum.
Although you can’t touch the many carriages and antique automobiles, you can walk right up to them and admire the amazing collection of carriages and cars. Carriages were mainly for the wealthy and you can see the Frick’s wealth in their fancy carriages the family used. As cars became available and carriages faded into history, Frick family automobiles were the start of the collection. The museum features a 1914 Rolls Royce and a 1903 electric car. The staff adds to the experience as they have lots of information and will gladly share stories. The Car and Carriage Museum is undergoing Phase II renovations in a $15 million expansion project. Currently the Car and Carriage Museum is temporarily closed and will reopen in late 2015-early 2016.
The Frick Greenhouse offers free, 15 minute talks every Thursday that take you off the usual paths to look at and learn about the trees, plants and flower beds. The Greenhouse houses a wide variety of vegetables and flowers. The structure was designed by the architectural firm, Alden & Harlow, in 1897. The Greenhouse is open during regular hours.
There is no charge to visit the grounds, the Art Museum, the Car and Carriage Museum, the Greenhouse, and the Children's Playhouse (the visitor center and gift shop).
Silvereye Center for Photography, 1015 East Carson Street - The center is dedicated to the understanding, appreciation, education and promotion of photography as an art form and form of visual communication. Exhibitions are enriched with lectures, panel discussions, workshops, portfolio reviews, interactive gallery tours, video screenings and more. If you enjoy the captured momentary reality photographs provide, this is a great place to view many outstanding photographers and photographs.
Silver Eye began in 1979 as two organizations: a cooperative gallery with exhibition space to local fine art photographers and a photographic workshop that brought photographers to Pittsburgh to exhibit their work and to conduct workshops.
Historic Downtown - Subway and bus rides are free in the downtown Pittsburgh Triangle, and the no-charge zone includes stops at sports stadiums Heinz Field and PNC Park. You can visit the Cultural District, known for galleries and arts events and business landmarks such as Mellon Green and the U.S. Steel Tower. There's also significant 19th century architecture on downtown streets as tycoons such as the Carnegies, Mellons and Heinz families spent vast sums promoting the city and its businesses. Free walking tours of the city in 10 languages can be downloaded at the Robert Morris University website.
Robert Morris University – free walking tour of Pittsburgh. Download a free mp3 walking tour of Pittsburgh in 11 languages at the Robert Morris University website.
During the one-hour walking tour, you'll hear tales from Pittsburgh's past, see architecture built by Gilded Age fortunes and learn the details of a fierce rivalry between two tycoons.
The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation offers free lunchtime tours May through September. Self-guided tours are available year-round.
JazzLive Tuesday’s - The live jazz series is free and open to the public showcasing some of the region's finest jazz. Tuesday’s 5 to 11 p.m. in the heart of the Cultural District. From September to May, performances take place in the Backstage Bar at Theater Square, 655 Penn Avenue.
In the summer, live jazz moves outdoors to Katz Plaza from 5 to 7 p.m.
Banjo Club, Wednesday’s only. Doors open at 7 p.m. , the music at the Banjo Club’s rehearsal starts at 8 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. Be sure to make reservations as every Wednesday is almost a full house. For reservations: 412-321-1834.
There is no admission charge for a night of good old-fashioned music that reflects the traditional, working class spirit of Pittsburgh and the banjo. The club even offers sing-along sheets in case you can't remember or don’t know the words to all those old tunes. Count on hearing lots of Tin Pan Alley songs that you don't hear anymore. We expected the over-60 crowd but were surprised by how many people in their 20s and 30s were enjoying the toe-tapping banjo beats or playing in the banjo orchestra. Add cheap on-tap beer to the musical fun and you can understand why this weekly event is so popular.
Church Brew Works - While their beer is tasty and their food menu interesting, the most impressive thing about Church Brew Works is the building. Located inside an old church in Lawrenceville, the beautifully restored architecture steals the show as you sip on one of their award-winning beers
Visit Pittsburgh or 800/359-0758.
Weekday Specials at Victorian Condo-Hotel Resort
|Celebrate summer with the Victorian Condo Hotel Resort and Conference Center's weekday specials. The Victorian offers three weekday packages for Galveston island visitors looking for the comforts of home with the amenities of a hotel. Choose a two-, three- or four-night stay. Each package includes a one-bedroom condominium which sleeps up to four people. No other discounts may be combined with the weekday specials.
Rates are as follows:
- Two-night stay $199 per night plus tax
- Three-night stay $189 per night plus tax
- Four-night stay $179 per night plus tax.
Rates are subject to availability and are effective to Aug. 28, 2014. Applicable taxes and fees are extra.
The property offers waterfront views of Galveston beach. Steps from the Gulf of Mexico, each condo features furnished living and dining room with sleeper sofas, private balcony, full-size baths, kitchens and separate bedrooms.
Amenities include themed outdoor pools, whirlpool hot tubs, a tennis court, fitness center, barbecue/picnic area and meeting facilities.
The Victorian's location is walking distance to stores and restaurants and a short drive from the Schlitterbahn Indoor and Outdoor Waterpark, Moody Gardens and the Pleasure Pier.
Victorian Condo Hotel Resort and Conference Center or 800/231-6363.
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