Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Top 5 Travel fears

Travel can be stressful, and many of us have issues with flight quality, concerns about germs, or problems with lost luggage. Take a look at common travel fears and how to address them in this list--and then take to the skies confidently.

1. Fear of Flying
Nearly everyone thinks about a plane crash when they get ready to fly, but that's not where your worries should lie. Did you know that the chances of getting hurt in a plane crash are one in 11 million? Author of "The Happiness Prescription" Elizabeth Lombardo says that "You are much safer in a plane than you are a car, or even walking."

2. Fear of Being Away
This second-biggest travel phobia can create a lot of stress for the average traveler, and it is a legitimate concern. While it can be stressful to be away from your home and job, taking small breaks out of town can help until you build up to a bigger vacation. Why not take a short drive to a nearby vacation spot over a long weekend like Memorial Day?

3. Fear of Illness
The best way to avoid getting sick while traveling over the border is to get your shots ahead of time. Swine flu fears may be overrated, but infectious disease shouldn't be ignored. Pack some antibacterial hand wipes and go! If you have all your shots and follow standard safety precautions, you are good to go.

4. Fear of Losing Your Luggage
Traveling with the right airlines can help deal with that fear: some airlines like AirTran use scanning technology to reduce their lost luggage issues. According to current averages, there is a 1 in 285 chance that your luggage will be lost, but with carriers that use scanning technology, the chance is 1 in 500.

5. Fear of a Bad Flight
Difficulty with delays, poor quality food, overcrowded flights, and long lines can be an issue--but arriving at that luxury hotel will certainly improve your mood. Try packing a small container of snacks in your carry-on and bring your iPod, planner, and a good book to try to avoid irritation while vacationing.

Oprah can gas up the jet and go anywhere she likes

Oprah once told her audience that she loves her private jet and that "anyone that tells you that having your own private jet isn't great is lying to you."

While most of us can't hop on our own jet to go anywhere we like, we can get an upgrade to business class and ride in style. Travel Agencies like Lorraine Travel (which operates have certificates on certain carriers including American Airlines that apply towards a free, guaranteed upgrade to Business Class on many international routings, provided space is available & one has purchased a "full coach" (highest unrestricted Economy Class fare) ticket.

With these kinds of savings, you'll have enough to stay at a luxury hotel of your choice. Try following Oprah's suggestions by staying at Miraval Tucson, which has an Exclusive Complimentary Perks package through What a Hotel! that includes a Relaxation Gift Basket valued at $125. Besides being an Oprah favorite, the Miraval Tucson has been voted one of the top spa resorts in the world by several leading publications, including Travel & Leisure and SpaFinder. All-inclusive rates at the Miraval Tucson include casita-style accommodations, three gourmet meals per guest/per day, a daily spa treatment OR a daily round of golf, free non-alcoholic drinks, and complimentary roundtrip airport transfers.

Looking for additional locations? Oprah's also been spotted at Hotel Bel-Air, where she threw a party for her 40th birthday. If you happen to be traveling to Chicago where Oprah's show is taped, check out this lineup of the best hotels in Chicago.

This kind of travel sounds like it would definitely get Oprah's seal of approval! Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Got a Feeling for Something Far-Flung ?

Modestly priced airfares stimulate the market for leisure travel to far-flung locations. According to reports, several carriers offer special business class fares from time to time, meaning that you'll be able to complement that luxury hotel with a more comfortable flight at a lower price.

Take China for an example of a pretty far-flung place from the US. Airfares to major metropolitan cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Beijing are much more within reach than before.

With the low-cost airfares & luxury hotel values we always write about, you can probably 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 taking a far-flung trip, now's the time to save on your flight and enjoy exceptional values at the best hotels.

Luxury Hotel Bookings are Up !

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" has risen sugnificantly since October 2008, according to a new U.S. Travel Sentiment Index conducted by Orlando travel research and marketing company Y Partnership. 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.

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.

Mexico Still Getting a Bum Wrap

Last year, the number of drug related murders & violence, primarily along the Mexican border has been alarming. So much so, that Mexico as a whole has been making headlines across the world, leaving the impression that South of the Border is now the Wild, Wild West.

This unfortunately has mistakenly made many tourists weary of traveling to Mexico, when in fact - so far, almost all of incidents are isolated to towns very far away from major tourist areas involving only those engaged in criminal & drug activity, that they have no impact on the safety of regions on the opposite side of the country.

Regions such as the Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya and Cabo San Lucas are hundreds of miles away from the areas of recent conflict, and therefore feel little if any repercussions at all.

The U.S. State Department has noted that the greatest increase in violence has occurred near the U.S. Border, and many areas are effectively safe to visit. Nevertheless, tourists must take precautionary measures while traveling, but not eliminate the option of traveling to Mexico.

Mayakoba is situated just south of Cancun on Mexico's prized Caribbean coast - the Riviera Maya. A mere 40 minute drive from the towering hotels of Cancun, visitors will discover a completely different experience. Here, nestled in a lush natural paradise, lies Mayakoba, a truly unique resort destination.

Mayakoba is comprised of several luxury hotels including: The Mandarin Oriental- Riviera Maya, The Rosewood Mayakoba and The Fairmont Mayakoba .

The resort town of Cabo San Lucas, named for the slender cape extending eastward from Baja's southernmost tip, gradually developed into a tourist hot spot the last forty years. Today, Los Cabos is booming and is currently the the seventh most popular tourist destination in Mexico and the second fastest growing resort community in the country. With a permanent population of only 40,000, many of them retirees, the tourist to resident ratio is quite high, especially during the peak Nov-Feb tourist season.

Our line-up in Cabo includes two of the most popular properties in our Luxury Hotel Collection: Las Ventanas Al Paraiso and One & Only Palmilla.

So, book that Spring Break or "Cinco de Mayo" getaway now and ignore this "bum wrap" that all of Mexico is getting.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Four Seasons Hotels is a Patron of the Arts

Four Seasons Hotels, the global luxury hotel chain, has continued to add impressive art collections to its hotels. This isn’t vague “hotel art.” This is something new. Culture and beauty are combined to form a synergy that tantalizes the mind as well as the eye. And now audio tours with interviews and commentary from the artists themselves, as well as experts with special knowledge of the collections, are available with accompanying brochures so that you can enjoy the art at your own pace with the actual artists as your guide.

At the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, cultural flavor is suffused throughout the collection, as most of the featured pieces are done by local artists. The audio tour includes commentary with artist Anne Appleby discussing the influence of nature in her etching, and painter Deborah Oropallo sharing how her son’s toy train tracks inspired her to create the large-scale work “Fast Track” years later.

The Four Seasons Silicon Valley hotel in Palo Alto, California features a rich collection of modern art and artifacts from around the world. The audio tour contains eclectic interviews with the collections featured artists—jazz musician Bobby Previte explains how artist Joan Miró inspired the album “23 Compositions of Joan Miró,” and painter Hester Simpson discusses what influences her abstracts.

Their Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea has an extensive collection that features artists from all of the major islands who have created works that connect modern Hawaii to its roots. Curator Julie Cline explains that the “contemporary Hawaiian artists are reinterpreting all these connections with the land and culture and expressing it in different ways.” In the audio tour, featured artists share their works and inspirations. Claudia Johnson’s use of guava branches in her “Wave, Water, Moon and Currents” sculptures is discussed, and Kloe Kang explains how her work “The Wayfinder”—featuring rice bowls configured to look like a constellation—pays tribute to her family’s journey from Korea to Hawaii ("Wayfinding" is the ancient Hawaiian voyager's method of navigation).

Also of note is the Four Seasons Hualalai hotel collection, which includes early Hawaiian art from 1778 through 1959—bark cloth, makaloa mats, and paintings by foreign nineteenth century artists visiting Hawaii. Together, these collections are a fascinating juxtaposition of different art periods.

The Four Seasons has hit upon the beginnings of the next hot trend in luxury travel—indulging the intellect as well as the physical senses. Brilliant.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Luxury Hotel Deals! How to Find Them

With thousands of hotels, all offering promotions, finding a real luxury hotel with a genuine offer is a challenging feat.

Then, getting the best deal at one of these places compounds the degree of difficulty.

One has to be part accountant, attorney and travel agent to be sure the best value is obtained. Let me explain:

First you need to be a travel agent or rely on a trusted one to pick the right hotel. Then you literally have to do the math while comparing nightly rates on an apples-to-apples basis in terns of room categories once you hone in on the place you'd like to stay. Then you have to have a legal mind to sort through the conditions of the deal.

In our experience, hotels concoct special packages with all sorts of value added inclusions. Oftentimes we find that the actual room rate has not been discounted at all and just the inclusions are slightly lower than if one were to purchase them a-la-carte. This is my opinion, is not a real deal!

The real deals are those that include a FREE Night. Free Night offers essentially amount to a significant discount of the nightly rate to the consumer (since the average nightly rate drops over the stay when the free night is factored in) w/o jeopardizing the integrity of published room rates, which the hotel "revenue managers" jealously protect.

To help one find these Free night offers, we have a tab on our luxury hotel site that lists luxury hotels from various brands, sorted by geographic location that have such offers in effect.
Here is the link:

What is unique is that we've gone through the exercise of collecting the information from various sources and have consolidated as many as we could find on one site page.

To see the difference, note how we list numerous Four Season Hotel locations offering "Free Nights" on a single page. Even if you were to go to Four Seasons official website, you would have to click into ALL it's locations to see which one might be offering a Free Night. A real time saver !

5 Star Hotel not Enough? Try a 7 Star !

“Officially” listed as a luxury five-star hotel, the Burj Al Arab, Dubai, boasts that it is the only seven-star hotel.

The unique sail design of the Burj Al Arab Hotel makes it the most distinctive landmark in Dubai. Tom Wright, the leisure hotel's design director said, “The client asked us to design a building that would become a symbol for Dubai. Sidney has its Opera House and New York has the Statue of Liberty.” And Dubai has Burj Al Arab.

Nearly 180,000 blogs discuss it daily. Celebrities and world leaders such as Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, and the president of the Philippines travel to the United Emirates just to stay there. Recently, a local university student used the hotel’s notoriety to fundraise for sick children by climbing the stairs of the 1,053 foot-tall hotel—the world’s tallest. The Feng Shui Institute (FEI) has praised it for being faithful to Feng Shui principles. The FEI describes the Burj Al Arab as an interesting example in the earth elements, claiming it gets support from its environment. While the exterior of the building has a modern sensibility, the interior design details offer a lush juxtaposition of Eastern and Western styles.

The Burj al Arab has eight award-winning restaurants. The well-known Al Muntaha, or "Ultimate," is located about 600 feet above the Persian Gulf, accessed by a panoramic elevator. Even more exotic is the Al Mahara, or "Oyster," accessed via a simulated submarine voyage, with an aquarium that spans the entire restaurant. The Al Mahara, led by acclaimed chef Kevin McLaughlin, is ranked among the top ten restaurants in the world.

One will arrive in absolute awe, and stay individually inspired for The Burj Al Arab Hotel reflects the very finest that the world has to offer. With chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, discreet in-suite check-in, and a brigade of highly trained butlers, one can be assured of the ultimate in personal service throughout a stay.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Four Seasons, Five Stars, 85 Reasons

The Four Seasons Hotels’ distinguishing edge is service. A superlative service that evolved over the three decades of experience in luxury hospitality. With eighty-five luxury hotels in thirty-five countries, many one of the Four Seasons Hotels hold spots in the Travel and Leisure magazine’s Top 100 Hotels of 2009, and four hold spots in the Condé Nast Traveler Top Ten World Hotels list.

Regardless of your destination choice, all Four Seasons hotels and resorts have highly trained, resourceful and dedicated staff. At any time of day, a multilingual concierge will assist you with your trip details changing your travel arrangements, making dinner reservations, reserving last minute tickets, or organizing business services.

The Four Seasons Hotels offer a premium blend of comfort and necessity to guests in each location in décors that are understated beauty. Travel is sometimes hectic and unpredictable, so a full range of toiletries is provided, along with plush bathrobes. so it’s safe to pack light. If your luggage goes missing, a one hour pressing service will keep you looking sharp and crisp; should you need anything, a shopping service for local retailers is available.

A multitude of delicious dishes are available at any time of day if what you crave is not on the menu, simply ask. The staff will do their best to track down whatever you need or want.Family traveling is made easy with special programs for kids and teens that allow them to experience the fun of travel and leisure by taking part in organized activities with other children their own age, under the supervision of qualified staff.

When traveling for business, start your day with a complimentary newspaper and or all day news programming to keep you informed. Many of these luxury hotels are located in city centers so you can work close to business attractions as well as leisurely pursuits. No matter what your business needs are, they can be accommodated. Small meeting rooms to gala themed event services are available with computers, high-speed internet access, and even friendly translators are available, of course.

In your luxury travels, you can find unforgettable family getaways, cultural explorations, adventures in exotic climates, championship golf holidays, spa indulgences, and tropical resort romance. You also have the option of combining destinations into a grand tour. Each Four Seasons Hotel location gives a taste of the distinctive culture and spirit of its setting.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How to Travel Stylishly

Here are great tips for people who care about "stylishly getting somewhere" by plane. But "how to stylishly get somewhere" is not nearly as important as "where you're gonna stay" once you arrive. So check out some of the most STYLISH places on earth to stay at well before you even take off!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost