Deal of the day

Las Vegas - Mandalay Bay Resort

Please contact me for more details.


Where Daily - Halong Bay Vietnam

A cruise through the karsts of Halong Bay near Haiphong Harbor in Vietnam is an eerie one indeed. Strange rock formations crop up through the fog and haze, ghosts really, of some dismal times recalling French Navy boats that patrolled the waters in the earlier parts of the last century looking for subversives and smugglers among the fishing junks. And then later, of U.S. Navy vessels trawling the deserted coves in search of guerrilla activity and or just a reason to be there. 
But these calm waters have always been a place of ghosts - mostly of the ancestors of farming village residents in these parts who have lived here for hundreds of years.
A cruise on the Emeraude from Halong City on an overnight venture through the mystical outcroppings easily puts the visitor back a century. Time melts on this carefully reconstructed 1910 paddle steamer, and then stops altogether. The ship silently slips around a forest of limestone islands and rock formations - there are more than 1000 of them in this sleepy bay in northern Vietnam - as mesmerizing in their spectral presence as they are historic.
As a passenger, the lazy overnight journey requires a cocktail on the top deck lounge before reading on a chaise, perhaps The Lover by Marguerite Duras, and whiling the afternoon away in dreams. 

Emeraude Entertainment
But the boat is not without its bustle of activities. A tender takes brings passengers who want to go ashore to Sung Sot Caves (Cave of Surprises) on an out island by a small village. There are options for kayaking and swimming near Hang Trong. Vietnamese cuisine demonstrations reveal the secrets of really good pho and a night at the movies watchingIndochine under the stars upon the Emeraude sun deck simply sizzles. The trip ends the next morning with early t'ai chi and tea before a packed buffet.

Affordable Spa Treats
Pampering has a place here, too, and for a fraction of what it costs elsewhere. The recent onboard opening of the Hanoi-based Santal Spa adds another layer of relaxation to the dazzling views with massages, facials and body scrubs. Santal is best known for its signature massage: the "four hand" treatment performed by two therapists using a blend of Shiatsu, Thai, Swedish, Balinese and Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi techniques. Other available treatments include traditional Vietnamese massage, warm stone treatments, reflexology and foot massages as well as body wraps and scrubs and a range of facials, all using quality cosmetics from France and Germany. An hour-long Swedish massage here might cost $30, rather than up to $200 paid on luxury cruise ships.

Onboard Details
The ship's 39 air-conditioned cabins come in deluxe and superior classes (including three suites) and keep the style of simpler times with wooden floors, modest wood and rattan furnishings and a small bathroom and shower. Buffet meals offer an array of Vietnamese and Continental dishes, along with fresh caught seafood, to suit the preferences of the 74 passengers it can carry.

The Deal
Rates for the two-day, one night cruise experience run $308-$557 for one and $350 to $624 for two. Transfers from Hanoi hotels (Halong Bay is about three hours by car from the city) run $45 pp for a shared van or $125 for up to two people in a private car ($135 for 3-5 persons).

Please contact me for more details.


iPhone users - Free Lonely Planet Guides

Lonely Planet is giving away 13 of their European City Guides through Thursday the 22nd.

Lonely Planet Blog Posting

Stranded by a volcano?

In response to the widespread chaos caused by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Lonely Planet is offering 13 of its European iPhone guides free.
‘Travellers stuck in unfamiliar places need access to practical information as well as suggestions on what to do whilst stranded’, said Tom Hall, Lonely Planet Travel Editor. ‘That’s why we’re giving away iPhone city guides to major affected destinations.’
The 13 guides will be free until Thursday, 22 April from the iTunes app store. You can access them via the links below.
The cities included are:
* Amsterdam
* Barcelona
* Berlin
* Budapest
* Copenhagen
* Istanbul
* London
* Moscow
* Munich
* Paris
* Rome
* Stockholm
* Vienna


Travel Specials - Deal of the Day

Mexico specials are really plentiful right now.

Please contact me for more details.



Travel Specials - Deal of the Day

I receive quite a few special offers each day from my preferred suppliers.  I'm going to start posting what I feel is the best of the best here each day.  These offers are usually limited to just a few days and then they are gone, so be sure to check back often for updates.  Please contact me for more details or to book your trip.

Mexico and the Caribbean today:


Travel Specials - Deal of the Day

I receive quite a few special offers each day from my preferred suppliers.  I'm going to start posting what I feel is the best of the best here each day.  These offers are usually limited to just a few days and then they are gone, so be sure to check back often for updates.  Please contact me for more details or to book your trip.

Hawaii 48 Hour Sale starting April 6, 2010


10 Things Not to Do in Paris

10 Things Not to Do in Paris - #10
Buy Into Stereotypes
Yes, we've all heard plenty about Parisians' legendary rudeness: The waiters are surly, the salespeople unhelpful, and everyone else is snobby and standoffish. It's true that Parisians are more reserved than most Americans and less apt to break into wide, toothy grins every time they meet someone new. Theirs is not a culture of instant BFFs and "Hi, how can I help you today?" extroversion. But you won't be doing yourself any favors by assuming that the locals don't like you—and then being rude in return.
Be Mindful Of Your Manners
Try to understand (and imitate) the local customs and you'll no doubt be amply rewarded for your efforts. Do learn a few French words and phrases. Even if it's just a crash course on the flight over, and your delivery is less than perfect, the fact that you're trying will win points. Salespeople in smaller boutiques greet customers and expect to be greeted in return: A simple "Bonjour, Madame" upon entering a shop will do wonders for your status there. And note that French people tend to talk softly—their voices never carry in the streets, on the Métro, or even when they're sitting at the next table. Keep your voice low, too, and some of your neighbors might even venture a smile.
My thoughts - I can't stress how important it is to learn at least a few words of your host country's language.  You may be butchering the language but the goodwill you will receive just for trying goes a long way.  If you dress more like a European than an American, speak a little of the language, relax and go with the flow, remember you aren't in the USA and they do things differently, especially in Paris, you will have a great time.


Free Museum Admission & National Park Week

Free Museums for Bank of America Customers: Today, Bank of America cardholders get free admission to participating museums and zoos nationwide. See museums.bankofamerica.com for details, dates, and participating museums. Valid dates are the first full weekends of each month, through September. Included on the list is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Also, National Park Week is April 17-25, all 392 national parks are free.


10 Things Not to Do in Paris

10 Things Not to Do in Paris - #9


Fill Up On Croissants
We all swoon over those flaky golden crescents, and we wouldn't want to deprive you of them. But it would be a big mistake to limit yourself to Paris's best-known pastries and miss out on deluxe confections that aren't as well known, or as easily accessible, across the pond.
Munch On Macaroons
Unlike the dense coconut cookies of the same name in the United States, French macaroons—dainty gems that come in a rainbow of colors and increasingly exotic flavors—consist of two meringuelike cookies bound together by a delicious ganache. A few patisseries, Ladurée in particular (pictured), have been carrying macaroons for ages, but recently these have become the hottest sweet in town, and several top bakers are making their names with novel flavors like cherry amaretto, violet, and white truffle. Debate rages among Parisians over which are the city's best; to decide for yourself, sample rose at Pierre Hermé, caramel with sea salt at Ladurée, and orange-ginger at Gérard Mulot.
My thoughts - why not do both?!  But seriously, the macaroons we had in Paris were fabulous.  The hotel we stayed at, the Le Meurice left some in our room as a welcome gift.  They were so tasty we had to go buy some at the bakery the next day.  I especially liked the espresso and caramel with sea salt.  We found little shops all over Paris selling macaroons, it was the perfect little pick me up while out on a long walk.  Enjoy!
Part 10 on Monday.


10 Things Not to Do in Paris

10 Things Not to Do in Paris - #8


Book The Cheapest Hotel
Finding a decent Paris hotel for a reasonable price can bring even the savviest travelers to the brink of despair. The city's hotels are breathtakingly expensive, and with the current conversion rates, they are truly stupefying. You might find a screaming deal at a big chain hotel and think you've got it made, but once you're sitting in a beige I-could-be-anywhere cube on the outskirts of town, you'll realize that you're missing out on the Parisian atmosphere in the city center.
Book A Furnished Apartment
Furnished apartments can be found to suit absolutely every budget and taste. You'll be amazed at how much living space you get for your money—especially if you plan to stay for more than a couple of days—and you don't have to eat out for every meal. The real estate mantra "location, location, location" definitely applies. When in doubt, opt for an apartment in a single-digit arrondissement and check how close the nearest Métro station is. And if the price seems too good to be true, try to find out what they may be hiding. Do-it-yourself services abound (CraigslistVRBO), but if you want to leave it to the experts, try a rental agency (Paris PerfectGuest Apartment Services, and Haven in Paris are reputable options). Once you're in your private pied-à-terre, glass of wine in hand, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood through the open windows, you'll feel like you've truly arrived.
My thoughts - It can certainly be more economical to rent a furnished apartment.  Buenos Aires in Argentina (the Paris of South America) is one great example of where you will find a huge inventory of very stylish and affordable apartments to rent for a short stay.  The downside is that you almost always lose the amenities of a hotel, like daily maid service, room service, an onsite restaurant, Spa and health club and concierge services.  If you can do with out those things you are  a great candidate for a furnished apartment.