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Archive for January, 2010

Apple’s iPad - A Game Changer for Travel?

January 29th, 2010

Apple’s iPad is the innovative company’s latest attempt to fill a gap in our modern lives, even if we didn’t know that gap even existed. It will finally transfer media consumption from the home office computer and into the living room for millions of families. Then, when you’re on vacation, you’ll be able to bring that same device with you to lighten the load and open up more doors to knowledge than ever before.

As it exists in this initial version, the real potential for the iPad would seem to be as an interactive replacement for paper guidebooks. No need to lug one around for each country you plan to visit, just upload the latest copy with the latest peer reviews onto the device overnight and away you go in the morning. Sync everything up to Google Maps and you find exactly where you are in relation to that highly recommended restaurant with suggested walking routes to get there. Since the iPad weights less than two pounds, your back will thank you.

If you have to travel long distances, the iPad will function as your on-board entertainment device. Watch your favorite films or download art and music from artists who live where you’ll be visiting. Want to get some feeling of the local flair? Then have the iPad auto translate the local newspaper website on the fly.

The iPad has the potential to become your child’s all-in-one learning device. Even when on vacation, they’ll be able to get assignments from school, interact with the teacher, and submit homework for grading from the device. This will make it easier to go off and learn things about the world without feeling guilty about missing a couple of school days.

With iWork and similar applications you will be able to download photos off your camera, organize and edit them while you’re on the road. With iBook you can have all your favorite reading material with you, not to mention the NY Times and a load of magazines.

There are a lot of great application possibilities that will not be realized until the iPad adds a forward facing camera. The augmented reality features available for iPhones and similar mobile device are already making choices easier for travelers, but imagine that with more screen real estate. Point the iPad at a ruined fortress and you’ll see what it looked like at the height of its power on the screen. Point at a restaurant and see tonights menu along with reviews and maybe coupons.

Another great ability would be to take a picture of some writing, say on a map or sign, in a foreign language and have it translated on the spot for you. You never have to worry you’re not getting all the details ever again.

So, will the iPad change the way we travel forever? Probably not. However, it is proof of concept for devices that could.

JFrost Technology , , , ,

100 New Brand Name Hotels To Open in 2010, Good News for Travelers

January 26th, 2010

2009 saw many hotel companies open new properties or relaunch remodeled ones. With more than 100 hotels from major brands scheduled to open across the United States, 2010 looks to be an even stronger year for openings. For the traveler this is good news as a surplus of room inventory will keep prices down. That’s not such a good thing for the hotels. So why would they want to open so many hotels right now?

The answer, according to Mark Lomanno, president of Smith Travel Research, is that “hotel building cycles rarely mesh just right with economic cycles.” Planning a new hotel can take two to four years, and construction an additional one to four years. Most of the hotels getting ready to open were on the drawing boards several years ago, when the economy was healthy, demand for rooms was strong and room rates were rising quickly.

Of course, the opposite will also be true. Not a lot of hotels are being planned during the recession. So everything should start to balance out in three to four years. But in the meantime, now is your chance to get out there and experience some amazing savings as these new hotels fight for market share.

Where to go? The article in the NY Times says that the largest portion of the hotels, nearly half, will be opening in the New York area with another 30 opening in Houston. Other cities with large expansion include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington DC. Popular family destination Orlando experienced large growth in 2009, so don’t forget them either.

JFrost Destinations, Hotels , , , ,

World of Color - a spectacular water show opening this year at Disney’s California Adventure

January 25th, 2010


superstructure for “World of Color”

The rains that have been drenching Southern California will eventually clear and perfect weather for visiting the region’s many tourist attractions will return. The biggest attraction coming to Anaheim this year is a spectacular nighttime water show at Disney’s California Adventure, the second gate at the Disneyland Resort. “World of Color” will bring Disney animation to life with powerful fountains, lights, and special effects that will change the way you think about water shows.

Extensive testing of the fountains and special effects is now being conducted at Paradise Bay where “World of Color” is nearly complete. After draining the bay, teams of Disney workers built nearly an acre of superstructure to support the complex production. Walt Disney Imagineering installed the massive infrastructure and advanced technology that creates the stage for this extraordinary combination of music, animation and stunning water effects.

Here’s a great video showing construction and some of the testing:

Unofficially, the premier of “World of Color” is set for this May at Disney’s California Adventure. Plan your travel and find great deals at Disneyland Resort area hotels via LastMinuteTravel.com.

Many more details about World of Color below the jump:

Read more…

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Last Minute Travel Club Special Offer

January 21st, 2010

Last Minute Travel Club members take note. It’s going to be an exciting year for travel and we want to start things off right with an offer you can’t refuse.

Book and complete your travel on Last Minute Travel Club now through March 31, 2010 and earn triple TripleDip points. Then use your TripleDip points to book hotel nights at any of our 16,000+ hotels around the world.

Our way of saying thank you for being a Last Minute Travel Club member.

Not a Last Minute Travel Club member? You can join today and we’ll apply a 5,000 TripleDip point credit to your account. Plus you get to participate in this great promotion to earn even more TripleDip reward points.

Offer Details:

Only valid for travel booked, paid, and completed between January 17, 2010 12:01AM EST and March 31, 2010 11:59PM EST. Last day of travel must be taken on or before March 31, 2010. Bonus points equaling twice your TripleDip earnings during that period will be awarded to your account on or before May 31, 2010. Subject to TripleDip program rules and restrictions.

JFrost Club, Deals , ,

Legoland coming to Central Florida

January 20th, 2010

Family vacationers get ready to enjoy one more option for fun on your next trip to Orlando. Merlin Entertainment will be building a new Legoland theme park at the Cypress Gardens location in Winter Haven, FL. Winter Haven is about a 45 minute drive from the attractions area.

While technically the announcement wasn’t supposed to be made until tomorrow, Merlin did Polk County a favor and gave them a heads up via email. Since in Florida all emails are public record, The Lakeland Ledger requested a copy and Merlin’s plans were unveiled.

Legoland operates four parks around the world, but Merlin Entertainment, along with its owner the Blackstone Group, is the second largest owner of amusement and theme park properties in the world. The first being The Walt Disney Company.

It’s unclear exactly what form the new Legoland will take or if it will incorporate any of the remaining rides on the property. However, there is a water park at the location and that is assumed to be one of the features that make this purchase attractive for Merlin.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremymiles/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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Kings Dominion’s 305-foot tall Roller Coaster “Intimidator(TM) 305″ Capped

January 18th, 2010

Intimidator 305 Roller Coaster

Roller coaster fans, get ready to make your way to Doswell, VA, outside the state capital of Richmond. The last piece of track was lifted into place Jan. 9, 2010 for the biggest and most thrilling ride yet at Kings Dominion. Intimidator(TM) 305 is a mammoth 5,100-foot long steel Giga-coaster, that takes its name from one of stock car racing’s most beloved and tenacious drivers, Dale Earnhardt, “The Intimidator(TM)” along with the height of the coaster’s lift hill, 305 feet.

Intimidator(TM)305, only the second Giga-coaster ever built in North America, will be the tallest and fastest roller coaster of its type on the East Coast. The lift hill will stand a towering 305 feet at its highest peak, close to the height of the park’s signature Eiffel Tower, and will descend 300 feet at an 85 degree-angle and thunder along the track at speeds in excess of 92 miles per hour during its three-minute race to the finish.

The trains, fashioned after Dale Earnhardt’s signature black car, will roar through six airtime humps plus three high-speed turns and have you screaming for another lap around the track. Lots more information, including construction photos, blogs, live webcam and more at www.intimidator305.com.

Intimidator(TM)305 is scheduled to open with the park on April 2, 2010. Book your hotel stay today to get an early start on all the other coaster fans who will be racing to ride The Intimdator(TM)305.

Tip: Spend an extra day in historic Richmond, VA and be sure to visit the Edgar Allan Poe Museum.

In addition to Intimidator(TM)305, America’s Top Dog, Snoopy, has arrived at Kings Dominion! Snoopy, along with Charlie Brown, Woodstock and the entire PEANUTS Gang are settling into their new home, Planet Snoopy (formerly known as Nickelodeon Central/Hanna Barbara).

Kings Dominion’s guests can enjoy over 60 rides, slides and attraction all season long with a Kings Dominion Season Pass. Season Passes include entrance into the Kings Dominion, access to Intimidator(TM)305 and 14 other amazing roller coasters, WaterWorks, a 20-acre waterpark, and Haunt, the Mid-Atlantic’s largest Halloween themed event.

Kings Dominion will open in 2010 daily for spring break week on Friday, April 2 through Sunday, April 11 and weekends April 17 through Monday May 24. Daily operation begins Friday, June 4. WaterWorks Waterpark opens Saturday, May 29.

JFrost Tips, Travel , , , , , , , ,

How to Avoid Baggage Fees

January 13th, 2010

With the news this week that Delta and Continental have raised the price of their baggage fees (again), it’s time to look seriously at alternatives to checking in luggage.

Loyalty has its rewards - many airlines will wave or discount baggage fees for its rewards club members. Check and see if you have enough points to qualify. If you’re close, consider taking some last minute travel and joining the world of Frequent Flyer hypermilers. You know those folks who think nothing of booking an extra flight to France to keep that Elite status. Well, they share their secrets on websites like FlyerTalk.com and FrequentFliers.com

Pack fewer things - If everything fits in your carry-on luggage, then there are no fees. Once you get over only having two pair of shoes on your trip, you can follow the advice of other travel experts who have learned to whittle down their packing list. Some good places to start are websites like Onebag.com and Travelite.org.

Ship it - Even if you are able to fit everything into your carry-on luggage, there are still certain items you can’t carry through security. For that you can use the USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box. You can fit a lot of clothes and travel kit items in the 12″ x 12″ x 5-1/2″ flat rate box. The cost of 2-3 day shipping is less than $15, which is less than the cost of checking that extra bag. Just make sure you’re not shipping anything the USPS prohibits and that your destination will hold packages for future arrivals.

Leave it there - Are you a frequent visitor to one destination? Use a service to store your goods and deliver them to your hotel for your arrival. In Orlando you can use Owner’s Locker. They pickup, store, and deliver whenever you come to play at the theme parks.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/striatic/ / CC BY 2.0

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Extreme Base Jumping Experience to open in Las Vegas

January 11th, 2010

When you’re in Las Vegas there’s no rush quite like winning a big hand or a giant bet that finally comes in. All that will change this April when the Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel & Casino opens its next thrill ride, The SkyJump Las Vegas.

Adrenaline junkies, and daring tourists, can experience the rush of an 855 foot “controlled freefall” off the Stratosphere Tower. This 40 mph fall will provide guests an experience similar to base jumping or skydiving. Plus there’s the added benefit of the amazing panoramic view from the Stratosphere. That is if you can dare keep your eyes open.

“We’re incredibly excited to bring SkyJump Las Vegas to the Stratosphere,” said Frank Riolo, CEO of American Casino & Entertainment Properties. “This will not only be North America’s only skyjump, but also the highest skyjump in the world.”

Riders of SkyJump Las Vegas will be given a short safety lesson and then they will be suited up in Stratosphere’s custom “jump suits.” The rider is then connected to a patented high-speed “descender” machine and led to the edge of a small platform where they will leap out and descend the 100+ story height of Stratosphere. Guide wires keep riders from straying off course in what is an incredibly safe, yet audacious adventure. Just prior to reaching the rapidly approaching ground, the machine slows the rider down, bringing them to a controlled and safe landing.

“While the entire experience - from preparation to landing - takes just 30 minutes, the thrill will last a lifetime,” Riolo continued. “Stratosphere has made a commitment to reinvesting in our property at all levels and this will be an outstanding addition for everyone - whether you’re making the leap yourself or watching those daring enough to do it.”

SkyJump is expected to open April of 2010, and will join three thrill rides already atop the tower: Big Shot, X-Scream and Insanity.

Book now and you can stay in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip in Five Star Luxury for as low as $64 a night. Only LastMinuteTravel.com’s exclusive Best Value! partnership makes this extremely low rate possible.

JFrost Travel Guide , , , , , ,

Travel Scam Alert - Your friend was not mugged

January 8th, 2010

A friend sends you a desperate email from overseas. They’ve been mugged and are asking for your help so they can pay their bills and get a flight back home. The email is coming from your friends account, and it does sound legit, but you didn’t even know your friend was on vacation. Be careful before sending cash, you’re this far from becoming the victim of the latest internet scam.

In the latest trend, scammers have been hacking their way into web based email accounts (like Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail) by guessing a users password. They then send out a ‘cry for help’ email to everyone in the address book. The hope is that someone can be convinced into sending cash using a wire service.

Here’s one email I received from a friend’s hacked account:

I’m writing this with tears in my eyes,my fam and I came down here to London,England for a short vacation unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed,all cash,credit card and cell were stolen off us but luckily for us we still have our passports with us.

We’ve been to the embassy and the Police here but they’re not helping issues at all and our flight leaves in less than 3hrs from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.

Am freaked out at the moment..

Other variants include, “I’ve lost my wallet on my way to the hotel” or “Our rental car was broken into and everything was taken”. Other ways to tell it’s a scam - they usually don’t address you by name and the spelling, syntax, and grammar are off.

So, if you are the recipient of one of these emails, call your friend (don’t use the email account), make sure they’re okay, and tell them their email has been hacked. If you are the owner of a web based email account, make sure your password is sufficiently strong enough to not be guessed. Some combination of letters, numbers and special characters usually does the trick.

Illustration Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/23905174@N00/ / CC BY 2.0

JFrost Tips

75th Anniversary of the Birth of Elvis draws fans to Memphis

January 5th, 2010

This week marks the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s birth. Known as the “King of Rock N Roll” or simply “The King”, Elvis put Rock and Roll on the map, but also was quite the movie star as this LA Times article remembers. I mention that because children entering high school this year were born 20 years after Elvis’ tragic death. So familiarity might be weak.

Elvis’ legion of fans still make the trip to Memphis, Tennessee every year to visit the Graceland Estate. But there’s a lot more to Memphis than just Rock’n’Roll. Blues for one. Beale Street is the home to many music halls and produced more famous songs than you can shake a stick at. While you’re there check out the Walk of Fame, sort of the honor roll of Memphis musicians.

Then there’s the food. Many travel to Memphis for the barbeque alone. You’ll find everything from tip to tail smothered in the delicious sweet and tangy BBQ sauce that’s unique to Memphis. If you’re brave enough there’s even the world famous bar-b-q spaghetti at the Interstate Bar-B-Q on Third Street.

Also Memphis is square in the middle of the south’s rich history. From its days as a cotton and lumber busiiness center to its monuments of the civil rights movement, including the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, to its rich arts offerings, Memphis is a great place to soak up some of what it means to be an American.

When you’re in Memphis, enjoy the southern hospitality offered by a four star resort for less than $100 a night. This Best Value! partner of LastMinuteTravel.com is centrally located downtown with most Memphis entertainment within walking distance.

Photo Credits:

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