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Everybody loves a good party, especially when we’re talking about Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The famed multi-week carnival culminates this year on March 4 - also known as “Fat Tuesday” - and promises to end your winter blues with its unique brand of devil-may-care hospitality. Internally renowned for its one-of-a-kind parades, colorful costumes and beads, jazz rhythms, historical landmarks, and Cajun cuisine, Mardi Gras is the celebration to end all celebrations.
What’s the big deal about partying in the “Big Easy” during Mardi Gras? Plenty. You can bar-hop down the famed Bourbon Street. Dance to Zydeco at an out-of-the-way blues club. Sample jambalaya in the French Quarter. Shop on the eclectic Magazine Street. Or catch your favorite krewe marching in one of the numerous parades.
But one thing - you have to start planning today. Like now. New Orleans. is filling up fast for Mardi Gras. And that’s where we come in. Last Minute Travel and LMT Club can help you save during your stay with some pretty sweet deals on these New Orleans hotels through March 31, 2014.
Check out the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, which overlooks the Mississippi River and is only three blocks from the French Quarter. The hotel includes multiple on-site restaurants, and is also across the street from Harrah’s New Orleans casino. While the Intercontinental New Orleans offers a centralized location in the business district that is just minutes from the action. And don’t forget about the Hilton Garden Inn New Orleans French Quarter, which features a rooftop pool.
To fully experience Mardi Gras, your best bet is to arrive a few days early or stay a few days late. Once you get to know this beloved U.S. city, you may not want to leave. Book at these select New Orleans hotels, and you’ll save $35 on your hotel room (subject to availability, limitations apply). Reserve your room today, and then get ready for the party of your life!
Teresa Fritschi, Last Minute Travel and LMT Club Guest Blogger
Read more of Teresa’s posts on her blog at: http://teresafritschi.wordpress.com
I recently received an email from my friend Ken at Last Minute Travel and LMT Club – “Would you like to be our #TravelTweetChat guest for this week, the topic is travel and romance…” to which I replied, “Yes, I’d love to!”
11 months of meeting (all kinds of) men through OKCupid, years of thinking (and writing) about ‘happy endings’ as well as the promise of new beginnings, passion, intimacy, tenderness, romance, words to convey longing, reuniting, and love, exploring the world (largely alone) – maybe he wasn’t so far off with his subsequent words of “We need an expert on love and travel, that’s you!”
So to help you plan your Valentine’s Day travels, it’s time to roll up my sleeves!
Chansonnier de Jean de Montchenu, made in France, c.1475. This is an example of a cordiform (heart-shaped) manuscript. It contains 44 love songs by composers such as Dufay, Ockeghem, Binchois, and Busnois.
The romantic love (rather than relationships for political expedience or strategic alliance) as most of Western society understands it can be directly traced to the courtly love of 12th century France. The troubadours and their lyrical love poetry sung to the accompaniment of a lyre or lute, in nearly every instance this courtly love was directed toward a presumed married, virtuous and unattainable woman (an aristocrat surely and written of as a goddess on earth). The words were always of her being pined for by a younger man. If he was sufficiently eloquent (and physically compelling) she might deign to take him as her lover – a grand passion, erotic love, in French called fin’amour (discreetly conducted, even if everyone knew) and, you should know, it was always HER CHOICE to call him to court or to her bedroom. So let our journey of love begin in France – but fast forward to Paris in the 20th Century and the scandalous affair that would be publicly condemned by the Vatican, result in two marriages but also two divorces of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
I have loved every experience I have have ever had in Paris – every single drop of the joie de vivre, the taste of Bellini’s and (multiple bottles of) Veuve Clicquot in Harry’s (American) Bar as well as the the Bar at the Hôtel Lancaster, where Liz and Dick would take over two of the eight floors of the hotel when they were in town, the exquisitely appreciative men whose words tried to seduce me into their arms whilst I simply climbed the stairs of Sacré-Cœur, the forgiving effect which my décolletage ensconced in a black lace bra made by Lise-Charmel peeking out from a Chanel jacket had while breathlessly repeating “Je me regrette, Je M’excuse, Je vous prie de bien vouloir m’excuser” in arriving to Palais Garnier et de l’Opéra bastille , alors!, late. I have never stayed at the exquisite Shangri-La Paris mais oui, j’ai eu le coup a foudre!
The journey of love doesn’t require grandiosity – I know, I know, it’s lovely but romance can mean just as much when traveling in a late model van. Skating on the Fond Pond in Boston Common? Followed by a dinner of lobster fra diavolo at The Daily Catch in the North End and cannoli at Caffe Paradiso is perfect in a settled-into-our-relationship-let’s-just-be-kind-of-way. And if you aren’t “in love” or not in a romantic relationship
is there a better city in America for sharing with a best friend of either sex? I think not! I mean, Ray Kinsella and Terence Mann sitting in Fenway Park? Are you really going to tell me that their ‘bro-mance’ didn’t make you want to plan your own road trip to Kenmore Square to find your own Field of Dreams?
I am falling utterly, ridiculously, in love with the people and country of Croatia. Like two of the other countries of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire I have visited (Austria and Hungary) this horseshoe shaped country is a compelling mix of people who truly appreciate living, who are, as the French would say, bien dans sa peau (comfortable in one’s own skin), an epicurean and oenophile dreamscape made real – found in Istria (adjoins Italy’s Province of Trieste) where Roman emperors regarded the wines amongst the best their empire had to offer, running south and east along the clear beautiful waters of the Adriatic with its 1,000-plus islands of the Dalmatian Coast and onto the music festivals and lifestyles of the rich and famous of Dubrovnik in high season and back to Zagreb – the land and the descendants of Bronze Age inhabitants are proving worthy of my heart. If you can handle the F-bombs of Anthony Bourdain, see his reaction to the food, the wine and his experience from a year ago which aired in March 2013 and I hope you will take up my challenge to see world class musicians Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser as 2Cellos (oh gawd, you have to hear them play!) - just a sampling, to whet your wanderlust.
Helene Berman straw hat
There is, of course, a short, definitive list of romantic things that should accompany you as journey toward love (even if you decide to stay-cation) - Neuhaus chocolates, J & E Atkinson I Coloniali hand cream, (as previously mentioned) Veuve Clicquot, a gorgeous straw hat (protection from peering eyes and the sun, a little mysterious and a bit of serious attitude to carry off), a white dress – not a wedding gown – that manages to convey ‘woman’ at the same time it is visually soft, massages, manicures and pedicures for two to make hand holding, kissing, spooning and love-making more tactically voluptuous (and yes, guys you can do
this without getting all metro-sexual), a bouquet of unusual flowers (oh, plueze not roses) such as mixed bunch featuring white peonies and stock; if you are reading this in NYC try my girlfriend Hannah Ling’s Gardenia Organic or if in Stockholm try Jemima’ Nylund’s Norr Mälarstrand Blommor (order REALLY early).
In closing, whether your version of love is Muse or Il Divo, Ni vous sans moi, ni moi sans vous,(Neither you without me, neither I without you) – Happy Valentine’s Day wishes no matter where you travel with your sweetheart!
Want to be a guest blogger? Email us on ken.herron [at] touricoholidays.com!
Finding the best hotel price is on so many travelers’ minds these days.
According to the Tourico Holidays and Last Minute Travel Club Global Travel Trends Report, price (39%) is the most important decision factor when booking a hotel, followed by promotions (18%) and location (18%).
The report also found that 57% of people book their hotels based on a price-related factor, and 75% have a hotel budget of $150 or less per night.
Are you one of these budget-conscious travelers? Knowing where and how to look online can greatly improve the odds of finding the best hotel rates available. Follow the below tips to find the best hotel bargains:
1. Be Flexible with Travel Dates
Hotel rates can vary based on time of year, day of the week and vacancy. If your calendar permits a bit of flexibility, try looking for hotels during slower, less popular seasons. Keep in mind that weekdays like Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be available more often at cheaper rates than Fridays or Saturdays. Note: This is not a hard-and-fast rule, but it seems to be the trend with most hotels.
2. Book by Price, Not Brand
The hotel brand no longer seems to matter to travelers. Only 4% cited it as the most important decision factor when booking a hotel.
If you are like the 75% of respondents who said price, promotions and location are the three most important deciding factors to booking, then you may want to consider shopping for an opaque hotel deal. While you won’t know what specific hotel you are staying in until it’s booked and paid for, you will get a lower price, and can compare locations and star-ratings.
3. Sign Up for Club Memberships
Travel club memberships, such as Last Minute Travel’s LMT Club, can save you a considerable amount of money. Most club memberships offer exclusive hotel rates and a discounted percentage off the original cost.
Just be cautious of travel clubs that are not attached to a reputable travel company. Do your homework, and research all club membership offers before signing up.
(Want to give it a try? Use the promo code TRAVELTRENDS for a free year’s membership to LMT Club (a $49 value), and start saving! Register here.)
4. Consider Package Deals
Even if you originally did not consider pairing a hotel with a flight or a rental car, some package deals offer better discounts than what you would get by booking them separately. Shop around and keep a calculated tab of what each option would cost.
Once you’ve compiled information from a few different package deals, compare and contrast. You may just find that you can save some money and not compromise quality.
To read the full Global Travel Trends Report that provides insights from more than 2,600 survey respondents on preferred vacation types, booking preferences, hotel selection criteria and more, click here.
No matter what city they call home, one of our travelers’ FAVORITE destinations for work and for play, is New York City. While many of our travelers are already aware of the awesome hotels – at even “awesomer” prices – we offer in the Big Apple, not everyone is aware of all the different fun activities they can book for less at the same time they book their hotel. In this post, we will share five of our favorite New York hotels along with some of the fun activities you can do near each hotel.
First on our list is the Grand Hyatt. Just steps away from Grand Central Terminal, the Grand Hyatt New York boasts an ideal Manhattan location, and Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue, Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Broadway’s theaters, and great dining are right outside your door.
A New York hotel legend, the Grand Hyatt has been recently renovated to provide guests with modern, sophisticated spaces that work whether you’re in the city for business or fun. The Grand Hyatt’s Business Plan offers wireless Internet, breakfast and other perks, while the Explore Package opens the doors to the Museum of Natural History.
Another fun activity that you can enjoy during your stay at the Grand Hyatt is the NYC Walking Tour Audio Guide – a narrated double-decker bus ride that travels through famous (and infamous…) NYC locations.
The Doubletree Metropolitan Hotel by Hilton is another luxurious – and affordable! – option. The Doubletree by Hilton Metropolitan Hotel is perfectly located at Lexington Avenue (at 51st Street) in the heart of Midtown Manhattan’s fashionable East Side. This also newly renovated, iconic hotel is steps from Park Avenue, Bloomingdales, Madison Avenue shopping, the United Nations, Central Park, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Broadway’s theaters, The Museum of Modern Art, and other famous museums. While visiting the Doubletree Metropolitan hotel you can enjoy one of off-Broadway’s recent big hit shows, Avenue Q. Avenue Q is the story of Princeton, a bright-eyed college grad who comes to New York City with big dreams and a tiny bank account. We all love underdog stories, right? Guess what, we won’t tell you the rest. You’ll have to see the show. J
Astor on the Park is another great New York hotel. The Astor on the Park is even more affordable than the two former hotels, and perfect for the traveler on a limited budget. The hotel along 465 Central Park West is your personal gateway to Central Park. The recently refurbished seven-story hotel offers proximity to key attractions-including the Radio City Music Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, Rockefeller Center, and sweeping Central Park views. Since the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is a short walk away, it is a great opportunity to pay it a visit. MoMA’s unparalleled collection offers a comprehensive, panoramic overview of modern and contemporary art, from the innovative European painting and sculpture of the 1880s to current film, design, and performance art.
Another great hotel for travelers on a budget is the Pennsylvania. This Manhattan hotel is located across the street from Madison Square Garden and Penn Station. The hotel offers a gym and a tour desk with ticket services. If you’re in Manhattan, see it from the air! Take The Ultimate Helicopter Tour. As you are seated in comfort, take an extended harbor excursion that includes a distant view of the magnificent Verrazano Bridge and Governors Island. Then, cruising up the Hudson River, behold the man-made miracle of the George Washington Bridge and nature’s miraculous New Jersey Palisades. Sign me up!
Our last hotel in our post is The Lexington. At The Lexington New York City, it’s never business as usual. Smart, social and sophisticated, the newly renovated Lexington New York City inspires with a setting straight from the Jazz Age. Inside New York City’s newest Autograph Collection hotel, guests will discover a vibrant boutique hotel experience with all the special privileges, deluxe amenities and personalized attention expected from a world-class hotel. Keeping along with the Jazz theme, we recommend the Soul Food and Jazz Tour. On this activity, you will be able to see the site of the original Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and Lena Horne spent hours wowing crowds from around the world. Drive past the site of the Savoy Ballroom where Benny Goodman and Chick Webb fought it out during their “Battle of the Bands,” and where the Charleston, “Lindy Hop” and the “Big Apple” dances were firmly cemented into American culture.
Since Thanksgiving and the end-of-year holiday season are here, we decided to send our traveling turkey, Turk (yes, just like Turk from the TV series "Scrubs"!) to check out hotels in some of the most popular destinations around the world to find the best holiday deals. Since Turk LOVES to eat, he also wanted an expense budget that would cover his sampling of the hotels’ special holiday menus. As we didn’t want Turk to get his feathers ruffled, we went ahead and approved his trip, as long as he prepared a trip report to share what he learned.
Turk started his "research" trip right here in suburban Orlando. His first destination was the luxurious Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. The Hyatt is located next to the Orlando’s Lake Buena Vista theme parks. After unpacking his bag, Turk immediately went to test out his swing at the hotel’s Jack Nicklaus golf courses. Four hours later, and very much exhausted, Turk decided to treat himself to a spa treatment, which he then followed with an afternoon nap in his spacious suite overlooking gardens, waterfalls, and Lake Buena Vista. One of the perks of being a Last Minute Travel official hotel deal hunter, is that you get to sample hotels’ holiday menus well before the holidays! Turk’s restaurant of choice, one of several that operate at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress was Cascades American Bistro, which offers classics infused with new flavors. His favorite dish was the Grilled N.Y. Strip Steak, served with parmesan-glazed ricotta gnocchi; cilantro, thyme, and pine nut pesto; and Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with sweet peppers. For desert, Turk packed away the S’more Brownie Sundae topped with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, hand-made marshmallows, and graham cracker cookie sticks. After this turkeylicious meal, Turk crashed to rest up for his next city. A quick morning coffee, and Turk flew off to his next destination - Las Vegas!
Viva Las Vegas!
After arriving in Las Vegas, Turk headed to the next hotel deal on his list, the Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino. Turk checked into his luxury suite, and took off to hit the casinos! Lady Luck was not with Turk tonight, despite trying all of the game tables, poker rooms, roulette wheels, and slot machines. Since Turk always keeps enough money aside for food, Turk set off for the best food the Venetian has to offer. The setting for his post-gaming dinner was AquaKnox, a newly opened seafood restaurant. For his main dish, Turk picked George’s Bank Scallops - black truffle creamed corn with apple wood smoked bacon polenta with a side of jumbo asparagus (Turk does love his corn!). After the night’s events, once again Turk retired to his comfy bed.
London for Thanksgiving?! Why not! Turk boarded the plane for his direct flight to Heathrow. Turk’s London hotel of choice is the Rosewood London. Even outside the U.S., Turk loves comfort and luxurious accommodations, so he booked himself the Premier Suite. After an extensive city tour that included some of London’s main attractions, including: Big Ben, London Dungeon, , the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, Turk was hungry as a horse after a race at Ascot. So it was time to check out the Rosewood London’s dinner menu. Turk’s decided on the Holborn Dining room, and after finishing a massive steak and an entire Shepherd’s Pie, Turk concluded that the British food is quite tasty! It was now time for Turk to head back to Orlando, and submit his travel deals report.
Back in the States
After a discussion about winning gaming strategies in Las Vegas, Turk finally finished his travel report. After reviewing the report with his superiors, Turk was dumbstruck to learn that he had saved 55% on his hotels by simply booking his hotels on Last Minute Travel Club. And yes, Turk has already booked his next trip back to Las Vegas! Book YOUR next trip on Last Minute Travel Club and save big. Turk’s even giving away a free year’s membership to the Club when you register on http://lmtclub.com with the promo code TURKEYSENTME.
|Halloween is just around the corner, so now’s the perfect time to decide which city throws the best party, so you can decide where you want to celebrate Halloween this year! If you’re reading this at your parents’ kitchen table, debating with your younger brother, which of your neighbors gives out the “good” candy, this article is not for you. But, if you’ve been working for months on a jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind costume, and are looking for just the right Halloween party to show it off, keep on reading! We went to some of the best Halloween experts we could find to pull together the top Halloween cities and events for 2013. And as WE are the experts in bringing you great hotel deals, we just had to include our own list of the Best Hotels for Halloween in each city so you can save your money for the good candy!|
|George Pachecho’s “Boston’s Best 2013 Halloween Parties”
Where all the boo-tiful people stay in Boston:
|Deborah Flomberg’s “Top 2013 Halloween Parties In Denver”
No one likes a horror-filled hotel, even on Halloween. We prefer awesome in our hotels,
|Jeffrey B. Roth’s “Top 2013 Halloween Parties In Philadelphia”
Looking for the hot guys and cool ghouls in Philly? You’ve found them:
|Sara Lugardo’s “Best 2013 Halloween Parties In Chicago”
It’s a proven fact that witches and warlocks pick the best hotels. In Chicago, they stay at:
|Londonist’s “Halloween Events in London 2013″
Now London is a city that loves a good beheading:
|Kate Wertheimer’s “Best Halloween parties in Los Angeles 2013″
Warm weather? Hot ghosts? Only in Los Angeles:
|Rachel Cooper’s “Best Halloween Events 2013 in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia”
We may not know the difference between a goblin and a hobgoblin, but we know that whenin D.C., they both prefer to stay here:
When approaching The Breakers along the tree-lined boulevard, one gets the feeling that they have stepped back in time. A grand elegant European palace rises impressively before you with a spectacular backdrop of a shimmering private beach. Adding to the ambience are sumptuous grounds and a distinctly island feel. A walk through the classic arched entrance does nothing to dispel the sensation as you are presented with a huge lobby more akin to renaissance palace than a hotel.
The immaculate period furnishings further reinforce your belief of having stepped into a grander past. Built in 1926 in a classic Italian-Renaissance design on 140 acres of prime beach front, The Breakers is more an experience than a hotel. Few hotels in the world could boast to cater so well for so many different types of visitors so effectively, whether it is a romantic getaway, a family holiday or a work conference.
The Breakers must be one of best in the US, a fact not missed by the contingent of foreign guests who fill out their ESTA based on a desire to visit. The resort has recently completed a five-year, $80 million renovation and redesign of all guest rooms and it shows - the attention to detail is excellent. Elegantly furnished, guests have a choice of accommodations from lavishly-decorated classically-styled suites to beach-side bungalows fitted out with private baths, flat screen TVs, elegant sofas, ceiling fans, refrigerators and lounge chairs with umbrellas.
There are five outside swimming pools, all of them beautifully landscaped and lined with comfortable deck chairs and attentive waiters to bring you food or drinks. Lifeguards are also on hand should you have one margarita too many and try to swim. You can even treat yourself to an alfresco massage. The south pool in particular is spectacular with its views of the ocean. There is something nice about being able to jump from the pool to the ocean and back. If you are the active type you can try snorkeling off the beach or kite surfing.
The hotel has beautiful attended to golf course and several tennis courts but the atmosphere of the place is such that some guests just find themselves flopping on a quiet stretch of white sandy beach. It’s surprising how family friendly the resort without compromising on the experiences of other types of guests - it’s a very large property and you will catch yourself being struck with its renaissance grandeur often.
A new bar HMF lounge is impressively fitted out and is unique in that it provides an effective social space for social drinking or dining with a distinctly island feel. There are several excellent restaurant options to cater for different tastes including fine dining, Italian, Japanese, an incredible seafood bar, a steakhouse that will have your kids begging to return, you will not find yourself out of options for dining on or off site.
For kids the property has activity areas, playrooms, an arcade, aquariums other events. For health buffs there are at least two fitness centers in the main building, a salon and a plush rejuvenating spa. It really is difficult to fault the hotel’s opulence and it obviously comes at a price, but it is worth it. At all times during your experience at The Breakers you are attended to in a fashion you are unaccustomed to and won’t want to relinquish. A feast for your senses if ever there was one; this is a resort experience for your bucket list.
Parents need to prepare their children well before returning back to school after a long holiday break. With some proper planning, your kids would be able to transition well both socially and mentally. Moreover, studies show that those who assist their young ones get back to school often get better results come end-semester. Discussed below are some ways this can be done:
- Help the student develop a study timetable 2 weeks prior to opening day. This would help him get prepared mentally for the hard work ahead. Furthermore, most schools tend to give assessment tests a few days after the students come back from holiday. Those who read before sitting for these exams stand a better chance of passing.
- Buy all supplies that would be needed in school. It’s appropriate to get them early enough to avoid the typical last minute rush. Also, make a list of all the things you require so as to avoid overspending. In most cases, students who are in boarding school would need more supplies than the day scholars. Apart from common study materials such as books, these students would also require living materials like foodstuff, new uniforms and personal hygiene products.
- Give your kids some time to socialize with friends and say a few last-minute wishes. Returning back to school may cut your kids off from seeing close buddies for a while. Therefore, allow them some time to mingle appropriately so that they can have some psychological peace once they go back to school.
Moving on, there are some college students who pursue their education in foreign countries. Such learners need a special plan on how they would start the semester. Below are some tips to consider when preparing for a new scholarly term.
- Check that your visa and passport documents have been renewed. This is very important since the host country cannot allow anyone into their territory unless these two items are provided. Students can get their documents by visiting the foreign country’s official embassy.
- Go for a professional health check-up. This would help you identify any minor illnesses that need to be treated before leaving the country. Remember that some nations actually require visitors to present a clean medical record before stepping into their land.
- Ensure your credit card is functional. You need enough money to survive as a student in any foreign country. Nevertheless, most people prefer using international cards for their transactions rather than carrying paper money. It’s also much safer to use them especially when handling big cash sums. Most Visa and MasterCard’s can be used to make transactions from international ATMs, so long as the teller machine is approved by either of these brands. The best thing about plastic money is that it can be used to make transactions in local currency, therefore saving the student time that could have otherwise been wasted visiting an exchange bureau.
- Book a cheap hostel before leaving the country. Nowadays this is possible with the help of internet connectivity, just compare the prices of different accommodations and choose one that best suits your needs. Moreover, ensure that there’s enough security where you would be staying. American students can also register for ESTA. This is a special visa waiver program that assesses the suitability of foreigners to visit US.
Labor Day weekend is just around the corner, and it’s time for a blow out sale! Since Labor Day symbolizes the end of the summer, we thought that Labor Day weekend will be a great time to present some cool deals for the folks who haven’t had a vacation this summer, and now is their last chance to have one. Book now and save up to 40%!
Use promo code ‘LABOR25′ and get $25 off (on $400 or more hotel rooms purchase)