Thursday, April 30, 2009

Swine Flu Causes Few Cancellations

The full impact of swine flu worldwide has now started to hit the press, and it seems that, despite being slightly anxious, travelers are going through with their previously-booked plans. In addition, an interesting report coming out of India via the Business Standard claims that those currently planning their next getaway are still doing so, just with more caution.

Many of us have been saving up those vacation days and hoping to get away from it all, so if we take precautions, there's no reason to spoil the fun. Currently, President Calderone has taken great measures in Mexico to prevent the spread of swine flu, and the U.S. government already has a veritable stockpile of vaccines and health emergency plans in place, should it ever need to implement them. 

With travelers handling changes in global health smoothly, and assurances that the flu is being carefully monitored, looking for a luxury hotel right now is a very shrewd travel choice. Prices are lower than ever to attract new customers and secure bookings, and you can easily upgrade to a luxury hotel--perhaps one that you never imagined being able to afford. Travel agencies are also adding plenty of perks, including the Exclusive Complimentary Perks you will get by booking certain hotels through What a Hotel!, which range from turn-down service to spa credits.

While we're watching the news, why not have a look and see what's currently on offer? You'll be surprised at the value-for-money deals available for island retreats, city breaks, and fun country jaunts.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mexican Travel Industry Fights Swine Flu As We Plan Far-Off Travel

While the travel industry, particularly in Mexico, has been affected by mounting numbers of swine flu cases, there is a flip side to the worrying news: crime reports no longer take up front-page mentions as journalists cover more pressing issues. In some Mexican cities, face masks can be seen on about half of the population out in public, but tourists are already expressing interest in upcoming travel to Mexico once the virus passes.

If you were planning a vacation in Mexico at a luxury hotel and had to postpone it due to swine flu, take note that when you do visit, flights will be better than ever. According to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Aeromexico will serve more than 40 destinations in Mexico with new routes by the end of 2009. In addition, Volaris will be offering new daily flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Guadalajara and Toluca as part of a partnership with Southwest Airlines.

To repeat what we've been hearing all over the news, the most important thing to do is not to worry. By taking appropriate precautions and understanding current travel restrictions or recommendations, you are doing your part. Mexico will be there when swine flu passes, and that's why booking a luxury hotel now for a future trip is advantageous. Due to lowered customer demand, you can take the trip you've always dreamed of, and at a lower price point.

Or, if you're craving a vacation now, you'll face fewer crowds and impressive discounts in various locations, and that includes when you travel by car to your vacation destination.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flying Through Swine Flu Worries: What You Need to Know

With concern increasing over swine flu, many of us have started researching travel recommendations and guidelines to keep ourselves in-the-know. One of the most comprehensive articles published yesterday covered plane safety and common travel concerns, and set some facts straight. On your way to your luxury hotel, there are a few steps that you can take for a worry-free trip.

Dr. Mark Gendreau advised that we simply become more aware of our personal hygiene, and to be more aware of other's health around us. Wash your hands regularly and apply anti-germ treatments with an alcohol base, which is easy to tuck in your carry-on, and consider bringing a mask to offer someone who is coughing, sneezing, or looking ill. Dr. Gendreau also suggests keeping the air vent over your seat on low and pointing it so the air flow is directly in front of your face. If someone happens to be ill near you, anything in the air will be directed away from your face. Then again, if you are traveling in first class to your luxury hotel, you won't have nearly as much contact with others as you would in coach.

Now that you know the basic precautions, let's move on to getting those Exclusive Perks in far-off places. In turbulent times, one of the best things to do is to plan a luxury resort escape away from the bustle. Try the Turks and Caicos Islands' luxury hotels in Providenciales, like the oceanside Grace Bay Club. This spot was the first luxury hotel on the Turks and Caicos, and when you book through What a Hotel, you get additional perks such as a dinner at Anaconda for two (up to $100 value), a full breakfast for two daily, a bottle of champagne upon arrival, and penalty-free early check-in and late check-out if available. Another option is the Parrot Cay & COMO Shambhala, which is surrounded by sandy beaches and acres of secluded jungle. With a five night booking at Parrot Cay & COMO Shambhala, you will get complimentary breakfasts for two daily, a complimentary lunch, and a bottle of champagne and a fruit basket upon arrival.

If you are still uncomfortable flying, don't forget that there are plenty of luxury hotels located just a drive away.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Don't Cancel, But Watch the News for Swine Flu Updates

President Barack Obama said on Monday that the government was taking precautions to protect us against a global health pandemic, but that the swine flu hitting headlines for the past two days is "not a cause for alarm." While this statement at the National Academy of Sciences was the first time President Obama addressed swine flu, which occurred in Mexico last week, we should watch for its effect abroad as well as right here at home. 

With this kind of health concern present, you might feel uncomfortable planning a vacation or getting ready to jet off on a pre-booked jaunt. The United States government plans to issue a travel warning to Mexico, advising travelers to avoid "nonessential" trips, and the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City announced that nonemergency and visa services would be suspended this week. In other words, it sounds like a good time to book a trip somewhere secluded or farther away, and to bone up on proper travel health practices.

If you are planning on going away this summer and you're looking for a spot that won't cause worry, we recommend a luxury hotel somewhere exciting, exotic, and unusual--why not Dubai? You'll have a great change of scenery and culture, and the Middle East has luxury hotels from both recognizable companies like the Park Hyatt (which also has an Exclusive Perk System in place) or The Ritz Carlton. For a taste of the fast-paced Dubai lifestyle, you can also try something like the Burj Al Arab, a towering spot located in front the Arabian Gulf that offers a free complimentary breakfast, a complimentary upgrade upon check-in, one Swedish massage for two, and welcome amenities and drinks with their Exclusive Perks program.

Sometimes the best way to stop worrying is to get informed and then get away from it all. Doesn't that sound like something you'd like to do right now?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why We Travel: Luxury Hotels Sweeten the Deal

A nice Sunday feature for today came in the way of "Why We Travel," published earlier this week in the Times. Taking a look at why people go where they do (and travel at all), it spans the globe from Bhutan to Java and gives us even more reasons to pack things up and jet off this summer. Here's some of the best suggestions we gleaned from the slideshow, with a little luxury hotel spin on it.

By far one of the most tempting and exotic suggestions we started contemplating was Columbia. What used to be rough-and-tumble is now far more tame, and with a stunning array of European-influenced architecture, inspired, exotic cuisine, and a rather eclectic fleet of inner city buses for the daredevils amongst us, it's guaranteed to be a memorable trip. If you have your sights set on Cartagena, the Sofitel Cartagena Santa Clara offers Exclusive Complimentary Perks and is located in the heart of the historic city center. The UNESCO-protected area, surrounded by high walls and castles, is made even more exciting with a complementary daily breakfast and a complimentary room upgrade upon check-in.

If you want a luxury hotel near aqua-blue waters, you will love the Maldives. This location, which was also mentioned on the "Why We Travel" feature, is a network of a thousand "Robinson Crusoe" islands surrounded by coral gardens and many lagoons of different depths and local ecosystems. You can choose between cozy huts in a seaside village at the Soneva Fushi Resort and Spa, homes on stilts in the crystal-clear ocean (try the Taj Exotica Resort and Spa), or something so secluded you'll swear it's a dream, like The Rania Experience, a private island destination with a luxury yacht, spa, and lots of diving options.

Tempted to book that luxury hotel now? So are we.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

'Obama Effect' Makes Prague Travel Viable

If you have a vacation budget for summer and you're looking for something new, consider the "Obama Effect" and head to Eastern Europe. According to recent reports, President Barack Obama's election has transformed more Europeans into enthusiastic supporters of the American way. A recent survey of 1,300 US people by TripAdvisor LLC had an impressive 44% of respondents answering that there is a more tolerant environment for Americans in Europe. Oh--and Prague was by far the best deal, they also claim.

If you are looking for savings on tour packages, deals, and local sightseeing, Prague is a great option. The capital and largest city of Czech Republic is the sixth most visited city in Europe, and is a great stop for architecture buffs looking to get a glimpse of Art Nouveau, Baroque, Cubist, Neo Classical, Renaissance, Gothic, and Modern styles sprinkled throughout old and new parts of the city. If you're partial to central locations, book your luxury hotel near the Old Town Square and Municipal House, like Prague's Hotel de Paris (which also has an Exclusive Complimentary Perks package) or the Mandarin Oriental Prague, which is near Prague Castle and the 14th-century Charles Bridge.

If you like more modern sites, try the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel, which is near the famous boulevard, Wenceslas Square, in modern Prague, as well as quite close to historic sights. The La Rotonde Restaurant, one of the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel's two restaurants, reached third place in a list of the top twenty restaurants in the city. The other restaurant, the Alcron, reached the number two spot on the list. Since your Exclusive Complimentary Perks include a buffet or a la carte breakfast for two, this is a foodie-friendly pick.

Prague offers plenty for the enthusiastic traveler, so take advantage of the "Obama Effect" this summer with your luxury hotel booking.

Friday, April 24, 2009

International Tipples: Traveling for Wines and More

A pretty tasting-sounding report got our attention: the Top 10 Destinations for Iconic Drinks has been making the rounds to kick off the weekend. From Becherovka liquor in Russia to a caipirinha in Rio de Janeiro, you can set up some excellent food and beverage themed vacations with stops at luxury hotels.

Let's say that you're the classic type looking to sip on something world-loved: Champagne straight out of France's region of the same name. Book a stay at Chateau Les Crayeres, located in Reims, and then soak up Exclusive Complementary Perks like a private tour of the stunning grounds and-- yes!-- a complimentary wine tasting as well. Later on during your stay, be sure to visit the Piper-Heidsieck cave, which offers three complimentary glasses of champagne with each VIP ticket purchase.

Not too far away by air is Portugal, another great stop for fine wine lovers. Staying in the capital city affords you cultural delights galore, and the Solar do Vinho do Porto, the Port Wine Institute's official bar, offers 400+ wine varieties to try. Luxe stops happen to be plentiful in Lisbon, and you can try out luxury hotels like the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, which includes perks like a welcome amenity and Free Upgrade Upon Check-In, or the Lapa Palace, which actually gives you a bottle of port wine upon arrival as part of its Exclusive Complementary Perks system.

That's just the beginning, too. You'll find that booking luxury hotels leads you to all sorts of culinary treats, and you'll love every minute of it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Luxury Hotel Stays Are Now Within Greater Reach

Lower airfares are stimulating the market for leisure travel to exotic locations in Australia and Asia, say executives of several major travel companies. According to reports, Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Emirates have all offered special business class fares in the wake of a travel downturn, meaning that you'll be able to complement that luxury hotel with a more comfortable flight at a lower price.

China offers rich culture and surprising affordability for the average traveler in major metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing. Thanks to lower prices, you can easily plan a multi-city tour with stops in between, like a Yangtze River Cruise on the way to Shanghai, or a stop in Urumqi and nearby Tianchi Lake while traveling to Beijing.

With all the low-cost tours and perks, you can certainly find a luxury hotel within your price range from WhataHotel ! Hong Kong boasts a number of quality properties including the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, which features Exclusive Complimentary Perks and spectacular 270-degree views, and the Island Shangri-La Hotel Hong Kong, which includes a late check-out without charge, a Special Shangri-La Gift for Suite Accommodation, and a Complimentary Room Category Upgrade with your Exclusive Perk package. When you've got the convenience of shopping and entertainment complex Pacific Place nearby and views of Victoria Harbor outside, you won't want to leave the Island Shangri-La.

If you haven't considered booking a luxury hotel before, now's the time to save on your flight and enjoy your Exclusive Complimentary Perks at participating hotels as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lifting Travel Restrictions to Cuba - We're Against it!

My mom & dad are Cuban-American travel agents who lost everything, including the family run travel company, when it was confiscated by the same vicious, criminal regime that, after 50 years of spreading death and misery, still rules Cuba.

As such, we today (my family still owns this thriving travel company - Lorraine Travel {which also created and is celebrating 61 years in business}) are totally opposed to anything that contributes to propping-up the perpetrators of such travesty.

A common, tired theme among those who wish to justify opening travel from the U.S, to Cuba, despite the above realities, is the farcical logic of “why not Cuba” if we have open travel and commerce with former enemies such as China and Vietnam.

Here is why Cuba is different:

1. Our historical ties to Cuban people, which go back to this country’s struggle for independence and how the effort was heartily supported from the Island.

2. Cuba happens to be not only in this hemisphere, but a mere 90 miles from our coastline.

3. Cuba for many years and to date engages in a huge worldwide program of anti-United States subversion, very successful in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

4. The castro regime of treacherous liars and thieves is the only government in the world that has dared to come this close // to launching a nuclear missile attack on the U.S.

5. Direct orders from the castros are responsible for Cuban mig fighters to attack un-armed U.S. civilian aircraft, slaughtering 3 American citizens and one Cuban-American resident of this country.

If 50 years of iron-fisted indoctrination and the above un-responded and certainly un-avenged infamies are not enough to provoke our righteous indignation to stand on principle and honor, it seems that hope is waning for us as a nation.

Cuban people on the Island and in exile deserve better than American mercenary collusion with those who would perpetuate their enslavement.

Many years of open tourism from all over the world to Cuba, the vast majority from Spain, Mexico and Latin America, millions who speak the language, have not made a shred of difference, so please (whoever is for the lifting of all travel restrictions) explain to me how Americans herded by a repressive system in total control of their visits are going to interface with and influence the real Cuban population. The suggestion is wishful thinking at best !

EDL Makes Border Travel Easier

Yesterday, Michigan became one of four states to offer an enhanced ID card to speed travel across the borders of Mexico and Canada, as well as to the Caribbean. Other state including California, Arizona, Vermont, Texas, and Washington are collaborating to produce enhanced drivers licenses. With this special ID in hand, you've got a "mini-passport" that transmits a radio frequency for added security. While you can still travel across the border without it, it makes life safer and easier.

With an EDL, you can start planning a stay at a luxury hotel beyond the 48 states without a valid passport which you need otherwise to leave the United States by air or sea. When one books a luxury hotel across our site, one benefits by getting Exclusive Complimentary Perks to enhance the value of a stay. Perks include free room category upgrades, complimentary breakfast, special welcome amenities and other nice things.

When you combine this with slightly more off-the-beaten-path locations like The Four Seasons Punta Mita, you truly get your money's worth. In fact, check out the "Fifth Night Free" option advertised on The Four Seasons Punta Mita page. This is a terrific offer! And our "Four Seasons Preferred Partner" status results in one getting the Exclusive Complimentary Perks too.

Other hotels offering the Exclusive Complimentary Perks across What a Hotel! in Mexico include the Hacienda Temozon, which actually has a confidential offering, the Grand Velas All Suites & Spa Resort, which even gives its guests a $50 spa bonus with the Exclusive Complimentary Perk feature, and the Fairmont Mayakoba, which has a special deal running which offers a $250 spa credit when booking a suite for three or more nights' booking.

Stress-free travel with your EDL is icing on the cake when booking stays at luxe destinations. With Exclusive Complementary Perks tossed into the mix, you'll be in travel heaven.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Recession Deals at Luxury Hotels

A recent feature on CNN mentioned free Wi-Fi as one perk that we are likely to be picking up if we face layovers or extended airport stops, but that's not all. Competition is currently fierce between travel companies, and with the recession making business shaky all around, we can expect ramped-up customer service along with 2-for-1 deals, rental car price discounts, and all-inclusive bargains. Why not save money on travel and then splurge on a hotel from What a Hotel?

One of the best things about luxury hotels is the built-in perk system. Instead of having to hunt down packages and wrangle with company representatives, you can expect lavish meals, plenty of lounging facilities, an on-site spa, a concierge service, and more. When booking a cheaper vacation, you'll find that you spend a great deal on adding "comforts" to make the stay in your hotel more relaxing.

With all that money one can save picking up recession-related eals, everything's more budget-friendly,even luxury hotels that heretofore may have been out of range.

Strike while the iron's hot: luxury travel has never been so affordable (and perk-filled!).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jamaica Hijacking Puts Focus on Stateside Jaunts

The Jamaica hostage situation that broke headlines on Monday morning has wound down safely, but it does have us thinking about vacations closer to home today. If you don't have time to travel far, there are plenty of places to stop for a quick work break--possibly even in your backyard.

The Four Seasons Maui at Wailea- Wailea-Maui offers weekend getaway packages that are an easy hop-skip of three hours from the West Coast, and without any hang-ups. Named the "#1 Tropical Resort in the World" by Condé Nast Traveler readers twice in the past six years, this Maui stop provides glamorous settings for a hassle-free escape. If you're an East Coast traveler looking for something within train's reach, The Rittenhouse or Four Seasons Philadelphia are an easy ride away from New York City.

Planning to go for something really lush? Las Vegas luxury hotels booked at provide an easy change of scenery along with affordable entertainment, because you can score plenty of discounts at your hotel. Relish the change of pace that's just a shuttle bus trip away from Los Angeles or an interesting 4.5 hour drive from other Californian points of interest.

If you did have your hopes set on Jamaican luxury hotels, never fear: this isolated incident won't put a kink in your plans. With the proper precautions, the skies are yours, whether you are jetting off to Los Angeles, Denver, Montreal, or Montego Bay.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

High-Speed Railways Enhance Tourism

With President Obama announcing that he plans to bring high-speed railways to the States, we're poised to see how things will work out. Citing the success of high-speed rail in France and Italy, Obama announced 10 areas where improvements could be made, including New England, New York, the Southeast, the Midwest, and California. While the development is exciting (and long overdue), we're going to get our kicks in some of the most developed high-speed train cities in the world first.

One of the best places to stop for quick and easy-- and somewhat enviable-- train travel is Tokyo, Japan. Their high-speed network of inner city and connecting suburban stops makes it easy to go on day trips, and that includes with children. While staying in a luxury hotel found at, you can jet off to a variety of locations at low cost and little bother.

If you can tear yourself away from your hotel like the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi - Tokyo or the Four Seasons Tokyo at Chinzan-so - Tokyo, you can choose between longer breaks or simple day trips out of the city. Japan's futuristic shinkansen, or bullet trains, run to the coast, into the mountains, or straight up to Northern Japan. Try a trip to Nagano in the central Alps, Fukuoka, which is on the southern island of Kyushu, or Niigata on the Japan Sea. One of the most popular lines is the Tokaido-Sanyo, operated by JR Central, which can connect you to Nagoya, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Fukuoka, and Osaka.

It's going to be a while before the States gets their bullet trains up and running, so a trip to Japan and a stay at Four Seasons Tokyo booked at What a Hotel sounds like the perfect compromise.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thrilling Travel Without Danger

With the United States lifting their travel advisory to Zimbabwe, there are plenty of adrenaline-junkies eyeing the location as a possible new stop. Not so fast! In fact, the U.S. government has made it clear that the change in advisory doesn't signal a change in policy-- it simply reflects a reinstatement of "'basic' medical, food and fuel services to Zimbabwe." Let's hold off on that wild Zimbabwean vacation just yet, and aim for something family-friendly, but equally as exciting.

It's no secret that your luxury hotel can make or break your vacation: many budget travelers go in search of thrill in a strange city without much luck. When you use, you only select hotels that offer comprehensive packages and perks for your thrill-seeking needs, along with the whole family.

You can't go wrong with booking a stop at the Four Seasons, and they even have hotels in Africa. With locations in bustling metropolises--the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza- Cairo (as well as Four Seasons Cairo at The First Residence- Cairo and Four Seasons Alexandria - Alexandria, you're setting yourself up for a luxe trip with a side of daring. Look into their recreation options such as horseback riding straight past the pyramids. Not quite a cowboy? The Four Seasons can connect you with riding lessons and rentals by the hour to suit any skill level. You can also book sailing trips down the Nile on watercrafts designed to look like ancient Pharaonic papyrus boats, complete with a belly dancer on board.

If Egypt isn't for you, there's always South America travel booked through What a Hotel!, including Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where you can schedule hang gliding trips from Sao Conrado, which is just a leisurely drive from Copacabana and Ipanema.

Ready to get started? You're spoilt for choice.

Friday, April 17, 2009

We "pick-off" some pirates & "prop-up" others

Almost to the day that American heroes stood up against the Somali pirates in Africa, our government caved-in to the worst pirates of the Caribbean, by lifting some travel restrictions to Cuba. will never promote, nor participate in travel-related initiatives to Cuba as long as the same criminals responsible for 50 years of death and misery in Cuba, continue to have the upper hand and call the shots on who can travel and when, while they enrich themselves without repairing any of their atrocious human rights violations, prevalent to this day.
More than anywhere in the world, my parents -who started our travel agency over 60 years ago in Havana - want to return to Cuba, but their self-imposed exile will continue until such a time in which they can go back standing on principle and with their heads held high. If they fall while reaching for this quest, so be it.

Some Americans and many Cubans who do not deserve to have been rescued by this great country when they fled as refugees, will farcically portray this gift from Obama to a regime of murderous pirates as humanitarian and redeeming for Cuban families. Nothing could be further from the truth, and they lie only to further their mercenary objectives.

In this moment of cowardly surrender,, its parent-Lorraine Travel and many worthy Cubans, will do our best trying to stay the course. Which shouldn't be all that difficult because after all, Havana lacks the tourism infrastructure to meet the pent-up demand from Americans. Anybody for Cabo?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Luxury Hotel Bookings may be Going Up in Down Market

The rate discounts, value-added perks & varied promotions presently being offered by the luxury hotel set has apparently caught the attention of high-end leisure travelers. During a time where disposable income in even the most affluent households has decreased, these luxury hotels have made that much needed vacation or well deserved weekend getaway more affordable.

The "perceived affordability of travel" rose to 90.2 in February from 78.2 in October 2008, according to a new U.S. Travel Sentiment Index conducted by Orlando travel research and marketing company Y Partnership. The index is pegged to a 100 base line. March 2007.

Although the index is a measure of perception and not bookings, it suggests that people believe there are bargains to be had for those willing to take vacations. The increase in the index was the first since January 2008, a month after the current recession began.

Practically every luxury hotel in our collection across WhataHotel! is offering something alluring to snag bookings and fill rooms. These deals increase affordability and make it more reasonable again for guests to enjoy a luxury hotel experience during these unstable times.

Our Luxury Hotel Specials page provides a great utility to help you find these luxury hotel deals. But hurry though, because and increase in travel means a reduction in promotions, so get them while they last.