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Archive for May, 2010

Increased Travel expected Memorial Day Weekend

May 25th, 2010

Travel this Memorial Day Weekend is expected to be the highest in three years. Growth of more than 5% is forecast by AAA thanks to the improved economy.

“While the economy continues to be rocked by waves of occasional uncertainty, improved economic performance from one year ago should cause more Americans to take vacations this Memorial Day holiday weekend,” said Glen MacDonell, director of AAA Travel Services.

This combined with low fuel prices at the pump will likely entice many more families to hit the road. What are your plans?

JFrost Travel , , ,

World’s Most Dangerous Destinations

May 24th, 2010

The Los Angeles Times recently listed some of the most dangerous travel destinations in the world. The list mostly omits destinations made unfriendly due to political strife and instead focuses on actual tourist destinations where travelers might encounter a little more than they expected.

Here are a few examples:

  • Care to go surfing in the waters of Gansbaai, South Africa, you’d better watch out for great white sharks. This place is full of them due to an abundance of their favorite foods.
  • Mount Everest makes the list for obvious reasons. It takes a lot of training and the right equipment to make an ascent and people still occasionally die on its slopes. Less than 5% of those who attempt the climb ever make it to the top.
  • The list includes all of Australia. Known for its crocs, snakes, spiders and other dangerous members of the animal kingdom. Plus there are the unknowns of the outback.

What’s true of every destination on the list is that a journey there is rewarded with nature’s beauty and the knowledge that you’re really living life on the edge. But also a reminder that you don’t have to be visiting a country on the State Department’s warning list to be flirting with danger.

See them all at the LA Times.

JFrost Travel ,

Calling all travel-loving trivia masters: here are this week’s new Play to Play destination clues!

May 21st, 2010

It’s that time again! We’re announcing the next Play to Play city (check out the original blog post for more information). Hopefully you figured out last week’s anagrams to save big on activities in New York City. If not, don’t worry. Your next chance at savings is just one paragraph away!

How about some travel trivia? Read the trivia clues below to figure out this week’s featured city. And, if you’re up for a real tough challenge, skip the Google search bar and just use the ol’ noggin. Consider this as training for your next game of Trivial Pursuit… except here the winners get more than just esteem, they earn travel savings!

  • This city’s stadium leads the nation in Major League Baseball hot dog sales. A staple of the stadium since 1962, more than 1.6 million dogs slide across concession counters each year.
  • This city is a fine arts Mecca, boasting more than 80 stage theaters and 300 museums.
  • Dozens of musicians have sung songs about this city and its neighborhoods, including Weezer, Lawrence Welk, LL Cool J, Madonna, Celine Dion, Barry White and Billy Joel.
  • This city’s seaport is the busiest in the U.S. and one of the busiest in the world.
  • By the early 1900s, population growth exceeded the capacity of this thirsty city’s only water source, prompting the creation of an elaborate system of aqueducts.

Figure it out? When you do, just head over to our Travel Guides page, click on this week’s city, and pack your bags!

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Behind the Magic - By The Numbers

May 18th, 2010

Wondering who the people are behind LastMinuteTravel.com? We are a swiftly growing division of Travel Holdings, Inc.

Travel Holdings - By The Numbers.

  • 16 years in operation
  • 32 locations serving 97 source countries across 6 continents
  • 400 employees providing support in 23 languages
  • $40 million invested in proprietary technology since 2002
  • 17,000 direct hotel contracts
  • $2.5 million in sales per day
  • 3.5 million passengers/year resulting in 1.19 million bookings including 3.99 million room nights and other services such as flights, cars, cruise, activities and transfers
  • 36% growth in sales year to date 2010 and 480% growth in the last 5 years*
  • Positive EBITDA of 5.4% and growing

With numbers like this Travel Holdings, and LastMinuteTravel.com, are poised to provide you excellent travel options for years to come. There is a lot more to come.

*All numbers are from 2009, except this fact from May 2010

JFrost Travel , , , ,

2010 International Pow Wow Kicks off in Orlando

May 17th, 2010

Mickey and Minnie welcome Pow Wow participants to the Magic Kingdom
Mickey and Minnie welcome International Pow Wow participants to the Magic Kingdom

The International Pow Wow is a trade show for travel professionals from around the world. Generally deals are made between buyers and suppliers, and everyone gets a chance to see what’s coming over the next year with a special emphasis on the host city.

Disney rolled out the Royalty for the event
Disney rolled out the Royalty for the event. Cinderella and her coach made an appearance.

This year the host city is Orlando, FL, which means I got a chance to attend the huge kick-off party last night at Walt Disney World resort’s Magic Kingdom. Disney certainly knows how to throw a party, and Pow Wow participants certainly know how to enjoy one.

Disney Imagineers previewed the coming Fantasyland changes
Disney Imagineers previewed the coming Fantasyland changes.

Despite a few sprinkles, I’d have to say the event was a big success. Attendees were treated to fabulous food and drink and stations around Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Thirteen attractions were open to ride and enjoy. Plus, Disney had six Imagineers (theme park designers) stationed in Fantasyland to showcase the 2012 expansion of Fantasyland.

Food stations kept everyone satisfied.
Food stations kept everyone satisfied.

Fantasyland will add a new major attraction, The Journey of the Little Mermaid, a groundbreaking Beauty & The Beast restaurant, a half dozen or so new character experiences (where you can spend actual time with a Princess instead of just a quick photo), and an expansion of the popular Dumbo attraction.

Tomorrowland became a space disco.
Tomorrowland became a space disco.

Dumbo will also get one of Disney’s newest inventions - the waitless queue. Instead of standing in a roped off switchback queue, guests will be handed a special feather and ushered into a giant play area themed to the circus from Dumbo. Once one’s feather color is called out, guests then report to the loading station for boarding of the next flight. This concept had a positive test result this spring at the Rock-n-Rollercoaster.

Ice Sculpture provided freshly chilled beverages.
Giant ice sculptures provided freshly chilled beverages.

The night ended with special showing of “Wishes” fireworks spectacular. Pow Wow guests were issued special ‘Mickey Vision’ glasses that turned every explosion into a shower of Mickey Mouse shapes. It was quite a unique way to view the show.

Ice Sculpture Pool Table.
The Ice Pool Tables were popular.

As the crowd filtered out, Disney had yet one more surprise — a preview of the Main Street Electrical Parade, which is returning to the Magic Kingdom beginning June 6th as part of the Summer Nightastic! promotion. Summer Nightastic! will also include a new fireworks show, dance parties, concerts, and other surprises. So stay tuned.

Disney's Electrical Parade
Popular Pixie Tinker Bell leads the Disney’s Electrical Parade in a new float.

If this has you excited, like it does me, make sure to visit Last Minute Travel’s special section on travel to Walt Disney World.

JFrost Destinations , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Capital Fourth Turns 30! Celebrate America’s Birthday with Music, Fun and Fireworks!!!

May 14th, 2010

Washington DC Fourth of July Fireworks

2010 marks the 30th year of the broadcast of our nation’s premier Independence Day celebration. This year “A Capital Fourth” will be hosted by Jimmy Smits. The all-star line-up features performances from the likes of Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Lang Lang and the National Symphony Orchestra.

One of my favorite childhood memories is camping out near the Washington Monument to see the firework show in person. All day we were entertained by concerts, games and other activities and at night the fireworks launching over the Lincoln Memorial was a beautiful and powerful moment.

I definitely think this is one event everyone needs to see in person at least once in their life. If you’re planning on visiting our nation’s capital for the fourth of July holiday you’ll be happy to know it’s not too late to uncover some spectacular savings on Last Minute Travel. In fact, there are still 4-Star hotels for under $100 a night.

More details about A Capital Fourth can be found in the full press release below the jump:

Read more…

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What’s the new ‘Play to Play’ featured city? The answer is “puzzling”

May 14th, 2010

Chicago, Miami, San Diego… what city will be next? Here is your chance to find out and secure some extra big savings on your next vacation. If you’re not familiar with the Play to Play program, no problem. Just check out the original blog post for more information.

We have several hints for this week’s Play to Play, but you should only need to solve one to figure out the identity of this popular city (of course, you’re more than welcome to solve them all just for fun!). Below we’ve listed five of this city’s top landmarks and attractions – in anagram form.

1. Freckle Center Lore – 2 words
2. Beatify Turtle So – 3 words
3. Carp Rant Elk – 2 words
4. Putting Is Remediable – 3 words
5. Seal Lids Nil – 2 words

Figure them out? When you do, just head over to our Travel Guides, click on this week’s city, and pack your bags! If you’re a local, you may want to check out this week’s discounts too.

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Free things to do in Paris

May 12th, 2010

Basilique du Sacre-Couer on Montmartre
The view from the highest point in the city is free (and a great place to kiss apparently).

So far in 2010, Paris has been experiencing a return to prominence as the top European destination for travelers. I found the city so beautiful with art, food, and wonderful people on nearly every corner. Plus it’s so easy to get around on the excellent Metro system.

To really enjoy Paris you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. Book one of our value hotels and then enjoy these ten things you can do for free while in Paris:

1. Notre Dame – You can enter Notre Dame and walk the grounds for free. Certain areas are only accessible by tour, however.
2. Basilique du Sacre Coeur – See that big white thing on the hill known as Montmartre, you can tour it for free. It’s the highest point in the city, so enjoy the view, and it’s directly above some of the city’s best markets for exploring (don’t miss the spice market).
3. Take a ‘podcast’ tour - Download a free walking tour podcast and set out on your own. Rick Steves has a great Paris walk-tour and it’s a free download.
4. Enjoy a free walking tour – There are a number of free tours in Paris. At St. Michel in the Latin Quarter and in Montmartre you can join a free walking tour of Paris. Plus there are some tour guides who regularly offer ‘free’ tours. Just be sure to tip your tour guide.

Chopin's grave at Pere Lachaise
Tributes surround Chopin’s grave at Pere Lachaise

5. Celebrity Spotting the easy way – There’s one place where you can always find famous people, the cemetery. The Cimetiere du Pere Lachaise is the famous resting place of Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde. Alexandre Dumas and Edgar Degas can be found at The Cimetiere de Montmartre. Also many churches have some amazing burial tombs.
6. Have a Picnic in the Garden - Stop by the Tuileries, a 16th century palace with lots of public art to explore. The Jardin du Luxembourg – is best known for its puppet shows and toy sail boats, but it is also filled with sculptures, gardens, and excellent people watching opportunities. Grab a baguette, some cheese and wine and enjoy a wonderful afternoon.
7. Book Stores - Paris has some of the most unconventional book stores around. Les bouquinistes on the banks of the Seine are a must see and nearby is the world famous ‘Shakespeare and Co.’ store.
8. Performance Art - The Centre Pompidou usually has a free outdoor concert or other public art performance. You may also enjoy walking the streets near Picasso’s home (now a museum) and photographing the graffiti art that is very popular there.
9. Look Around — The height limit set for buildings has meant that the density of architectural beauty is very high in Paris. There’s the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the exterior of the Louvre just to name a few. Repeat this tour at night for a completely different experience. The Centre Pompidou and La Defense are examples of more modern approach that has come to Paris lately.
10. Go Shopping for flair – The Champes Elysees is world famous for a reason. But for me the magic of Paris is found in the small shops frequented by the locals. The Galeries Lafayette is known for its breathtaking setting. The unique Belle Epoque architecture of the store is worth a trip. Be sure to see the dramatic colored glass dome and the ornate Art Nouveau staircase while there.

This is just a short list. Keep an eye open for free days at museums, art galleries, and other events in the parks or streets of the city.

Photo Credits: Basilique du Sacre-Couer and Pere Lachaise. Both under a CC license.

JFrost Destinations, Travel Guide , , , , , ,

Best Place for Hot Dogs in Orlando: Hot Dog Heaven

May 10th, 2010

Hot Dog Heaven sign

Located in the middle of the I-4, 408, and 426 on East Colonial (a short distance from the Orlando Executive Airport) is one of The Beautiful City’s food treasures. Keep an eye out for Hot Dog Heaven’s iconic hot dog on a pitchfork sign and get your photo taken with the “Big Frank” hot dog truck.

Hot Dog Heaven (facebook) specializes in Chicago style hot dogs. To be a Chicago dog you have to be 100% pure beef, smoked to perfection, and then served on a freshly steamed poppy seed bun. Choose your Chicago-sourced toppings, which can include Nuclear Green Relish, Hot Peppers, Slaw, Kraut, Chili, or even 1000 Island Dressing, and enjoy a classic. You really haven’t lived until you’ve enjoyed a Reuben Dog from Hot Dog Heaven. Prices range from the affordable to the very affordable. Be prepared to wait as word has gotten out about this foodie find.

Hot Dog Heaven proves there’s more to do in Orlando than just the theme parks. Where’s the best place to get a hot dog fix where you live?

Photo Credit: Flickr User: ferret111/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

JFrost Dining Reviews , , , ,

It’s time for the new Play to Play city…and some warm sunshine!

May 7th, 2010

Have you taken advantage of our Play to Play Program yet? Hopefully you have, but if not, no worries – we’ll always have a special deal waiting for you in a fantastic city where you can have a great time. We’ve already offered up some amazing discounts in Chicago and Miami since kicking off Play to Play a couple weeks ago, and it’s now time to give you some hints about where to look for this week’s deals. (And by the way, if you need an introduction to how Play to Play works, go here to see the original post about it.)

As your hint for this week’s Play to Play city, we’ve decided to give it to you as a haiku. Why a haiku? Well, because we thought it would be a better idea than a limerick. Here’s your Play to Play hint haiku:

Westward you should go
Where you’ll find an awesome zoo
And, hey! Legoland!

Figure it out yet? When you do, just head over to our Travel Guides page, find this week’s city, and get ready to pack!

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