Thursday, December 26, 2013

What a fare error looks like

Earlier today there was a glitch in Delta's fare chart.  Here is what kayak explore looked like from the Washington DC area.  A sub 70$ fare to Hawaii or St. Thomas sounds pretty good just about now doesn't it?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyber Monday Hotel Deal: Radisson BLU Philadelphia for $19.26

For Cyber Monday you can book a room at the newly renovated Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel in Philly for only $19.26 per person per night.  Details and booking can be found here

Fine Print:
  • Price is $19.26 per person, per night and subject to occupancy tax
  • Maximum of two nights per reservation
  • Limit one reservation per person
  • There is a limited number of Cyber Steal packages available for this special offer
  • Some blackout dates for reservations apply
  • Tuesday, November 26, 2013

    Google Street View: Park Hyatt Milan

    Having just booked a round trip flight from NYC to Milan in March for $260 round trip ( was offering bargain prices over the weekend), I've officially begun my hotel search.  Since I loved my stay at the Park Hyatt in Paris last spring, the first hotel on my list to check out was the Park Hyatt in Milan.  I stumbled across a pretty inside look at the hotel on Google Street View.  You can check it out here.


    Tuesday, November 12, 2013

    2 nights free at Andaz Maui at Wailea

    Andaz Maui at Wailea has a offer where you can stay 4 nights get 2 nights free + 75$ credit.  Offer ends January 8th.  This is one of Hyatt's newest hotels and from what I've seen it looks pretty nice.  Details can be found here.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Best use of SPG points: Category 3

    Unlike category 1 and 2 properties which offer a discount during the weekend, category 3 and up properties are a constant rate all week long.  Category 3 hotels are 7000 points a night, however if you book 5 nights the 5th night is free.  That makes the cost of a 5 night get away 28,000 points or only 5,600 points a night.  Once again, when it comes to free hotel nights the best ones are the ones that you can actually make a use of.  The ones listed below have simply caught my eye.



    Sheraton Fuschlsee-Salzburg, Hotel Jagdhof, Austria


    Hotel Elephant, Weimar, Germany

    Sheraton Rhodes Resort, Greece

    Conde Nast: #1 hotel in Greece in value for money

    Convento do Espinheiro Hotel & Spa, Evora, Portugal

    Sheraton Salobre Golf Resort & Spa, Spain

    Le Méridien St. Julians Hotel & Spa, Malta

    Le Méridien Ile Maurice, Mauritius

    The Astor Hotel, Tianjin

    ITC Mughal, Agra, India

    A full list of category 3 hotels can be found here.

    Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Save with SPG Hot Escapes

    Starwood Hot Escapes is a weekly offering of hotel discounts offering anywhere from 20-40% off regular rates.  Prices are valid for stays over the next 6 weeks.  Link can be found here

    There are some interesting deals this week including W Minneapolis for 59$ a night. 
    These deals look like they are worth a check if you have a stay upcoming in the next 6 weeks.

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    Free Night at Shangri-La Hotels

    Shangri-La Hotel's loyalty program Golden Circle is celebrating its 3rd anniversary.  Over the next 6 weeks they will be offering 6 different online "games" (one per week) which will allow you to earn 200 points per week for a total of 1200 points.  Free night redemption's start at just 1000 points so this is a great deal.  Aside from a free night, 1000 points could also get you $100 in food or spa credit.  This literally would require less than 5 minutes of your time over the next 6 weeks   

    The game and instructions can be found here

    List of Hotels at 1000 points/night
    • Mainland China
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Baotou
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Beihai
    • Traders Upper East Hotel, Beijing
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Huhhot
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Manzhouli
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Qufu
    • Traders Hotel, Shenyang
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Wuhan
    • Golden Flower Hotel, Xian
    • Malaysia
    • Putrajaya Shangri-La
    • Traders Hotel, Puteri Harbour, Johor, Malaysia
    • Traders Hotel, Penang
    • Philippines
    • Traders Hotel, Manila
    • Taiwan
    • Shangri-La's Far Eastern Plaza Hotel, Tainan
    List of Hotels at 2000 points/night
    • Mainland China
    • Traders Hotel, Beijing
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun
    • Traders Fudu Hotel, Changzhou
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Fuzhou
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Guilin
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Harbin
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Ningbo
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Shenyang
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Shenzhen
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Suzhou
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Wenzhou
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Yangzhou
    • Hong Kong
    • Traders Hotel, Hong Kong
    • Indonesia
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Surabaya
    • Malaysia
    • Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
    • Golden Sands Resort, Penang
    • Myanmar
    • Traders Hotel, Yangon
    • Philippines
    • Edsa Shangri-La, Manila
    • Singapore
    • Traders Hotel, Singapore
    • Thailand
    • Shangri-La Hotel, Chiang Mai
    • United Arab Emirates
    • Traders Hotel, Dubai

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Amazing deal alert: lots of cities to Beijing for 445$ and shanghai for $550

    Looks like I posted a little too soon on the Baltimore to Shanghai deal.  It appears that these same prices are available from several other cities including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  Flights to Beijing are 445$ round trip.  Again, I highly doubt that these prices will be around for long.

    Amazing deal alert: Baltimore to Shanghai for 550$ round trip

    Just came across this great fare.  Baltimore (BWI) to Shanghai (PVG) for $550 round trip with all taxes and fees included in that price.  There seems to be pretty good availability throughout winter and early spring.  I doubt this price will be around for long.

    Friday, September 20, 2013

    Dealing with Jet Lag

    Quite simply, Jet lag is a mismatch between the time your body thinks it is and what time the clock says it is.  Desynchronosis, as it is known as in the medical community, is a serious phenomenon - one in which mismanagement can take days of enjoyment off of your trip or cause under performance on the job.  From a travelers perspective, jet lag can occur anytime travel crosses timezones.  The more timezones crossed, the higher the likelihood of developing symptoms.  For the non traveler, desynchronosis can occur when working several different shifts throughout the week.  

    The symptoms of Jetlag eventually improve as your body becomes accustomed to the new pattern of sleep and wake cycles but this process can take several days.  While your body is adjusting you may experience numerous symptoms including: difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, daytime drowsiness, difficulty thinking or concentrating, agitation, digestive issues such as nausea or diarrhea and decreased energy. For the road warrior proper management of jet lag can be the difference between closing a major business deal or a very long flight home with the boss.  For the leisure traveler, it can be the difference between watching the sun rise over Haleakalā or sleeping in.

    Sunrise over Haleakalā

    The biological basis of jet lag is simple.  Your body has an internal clock which is based on 24hour cycles of light and dark, wake and sleep.  When you cross timezones you either add (going west) or subtract (going east) hours from the day.  After a transatlantic flight, your body thinks it is 1am but the local time is 7am.  The best methods to coping with jet lag involve behavioral modifications.  If you are flying west you should attempt to stay up until it gets dark.  If you are flying east the best medical advice involves avoiding bright morning light but to get outside as much as possible in the afternoon.  In my personal experience I've had success with forcing myself to stay awake until around 9pm local time, then waking up with the sun the following day.  When it comes to meals, you should try to eat with the timezone, not when you are hungry.  Finally, try to get some sort of exercise the first day. 

    When behavior modifications fail, there are a few pharmacologic options.  One of the most popular remedies is a supplement called melatonin.  Melatonin is a hormone which is naturally produced in a part of your brain called the pineal gland and helps to regulate your circadian rhythm.  While this supplement is relatively safe, it can interfere with certain medications, so please consult your doctor prior to taking it.  The usual dose is anywhere from 0.5-5 milligrams daily and the timing of the doses depends on the direction that you travel.  Melatonin was found to benefit adult patients crossing more than 5 timezones. 
    Direction of travelDuring the trip1st-4th evenings in new time zone
    East (for example, from the US to Europe)After dark, 30 min before bedtime in the new time zoneAfter dark, 30 min before bedtime in the new time zone
    West (for example, from Europe to the US or from the US to Australia)Not neededAfter dark, 30 min before bedtime in the new time zone

    There are two newer medications which have been found to promote wakefulness called modafinil and Armodafinil.  These medications can be used to treat excessive daytime sleepiness.  While these medications were initially used in patients with sleep apnea, a large study has shown that they may decrease sleepiness in travelers.  These medications are available by prescription only and the consensus on their overall effectiveness and safety is still out. 

    Finally, sedatives and stimulants also have a role in helping travelers adjust to jet lag.  Fast acting benzodiazapines such as Valium can be beneficial in promoting sleep in westward travel.  This class of medications can lead to dependence and you should have a through discussion with your doctor before starting this.  Stimulants such as caffeine may be beneficial in eastward travel, however this is more of a quick fix and does not address the underlying hormonal balance caused by the jet lag.

    In summary, jet lag is common in people crossing one or more timezones.  The more timezones crossed the more severe and prolonged the symptoms will be.  Exposure to natural light and behavioral modifications are important in adjusting to a new timezone. When non medical interventions fail, melatonin is available over the counter and can help reduce the length and severity of the adjustment period

    Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    Best use of SPG points: Category 2

    Category 2 nights are only 3000 points on weekends and 4000 points during the week.  As I've mentioned before, YOUR best use of hotel points is for hotels which you can actually use.  At 3000 points a night, even a hotel that retails for 60$ will get you 2cents/point value out of your SPG points.  Below is a list of hotels which I have actually stayed and those which have caught my attention and which I hope to visit someday.  I apologize that this post is so long but in my mind SPG category 2 properties are the sweet spot of hotel redemptions.

    Sheraton Annapolis Hotel, Maryland

    I have personally stayed at this hotel.  With weekend rates in the 150-$200 range and free shuttle to the harbor you really cant beat this.   Check out my review here.

    Sheraton Baltimore Washington Airport Hotel - BWI, Maryland

    I have also previously stayed at this property.  Hotel is typical of your standard sheraton with free shuttle to BWI airport.  This hotel is also within 10 miles of the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  You can find out more information and book on their website:

    Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, Virginia

    I have not stayed here, but it is on my list of weekend getaways

    Sheraton Lima Hotel & Convention Center, Peru

    I have stayed at this hotel, although it was before I had my blog up and running.  Very nice (albeit dated) property in central lima.  Our room was newly renovated on the top floor and offered stunning views all the way out to the ocean.  We also had club access which gave us free breakfast and evening buffet daily.

    Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel, Maryland

    This is a perfectly fine hotel (which I have toured but never stayed).  Yes downtown baltimore does have its seedy areas and I would watch where i was going at night outside this hotel, but this hotel has recently updated rooms and a city center location.  Easily walkable to the inner harbor.

    Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf & Spa Resort Canary Isle, Spain

    I have an upcoming trip planned here in march.

    Sheraton Santa Maria de El Paular, Spain

    A abbey converted to hotel

    Le Méridien N'Fis, Marrakech Morocco

    Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, Vietnam

    A full list of category 2 hotels can be found here