Teenage sailor on solo voyage reaches St. Maarten (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten – A 15-year-old Dutch sailor on Sunday completed the longest leg so far of her attempted circumnavigation of the globe, saying it felt “really weird” to be back on dry land after nearly three weeks out in the ocean.

Fifteen-year-old Laura Dekker, aiming to become the youngest person to sail solo around the world, was in good spirits after completing the 2,200 nautical-mile (2,532 land-mile, 4,074-kilometer) trip from the Cape Verde Islands off West Africa.

Dekker anchored Guppy, her 38-foot (11.5-meter) ketch, just outside Simpson Bay Lagoon after what she called “a very nice trip” so far. She later steered it into the lagoon as a crowd gathered at the docks and snapped pictures.

“It’s really weird. It’s not moving and not bouncy,” she told The Associated Press as she tried to find her land legs while strolling in flip-flops along a sidewalk to the Dutch territory’s immigration office. “I don’t think I can live in a house at the moment.”

The Dutch teenager started her trip from Gibraltar on Aug. 21 and spent two months in the Canary Islands waiting for the hurricane season to pass. She left the Cape Verde Islands on Dec. 2.

Dekker’s venture stirred an intense debate about whether young people should be allowed to sail the world’s oceans alone. A Dutch court originally blocked the voyage and only permitted her to set off after she took measures to manage the risks.

She bought a bigger, sturdier boat than the one she originally planned to use, fitted it with advanced navigation and radar equipment, and took courses in first aid and coping with sleep deprivation.

In the end, the Dutch court ruled that her preparations were adequate and it was up to her parents, who are divorced, to decide whether to let her make the attempt. Dekker was born on a boat off New Zealand while her parents were sailing around the world.

On a recent blog posting, Dekker said she “regularly wakes up after only one hour of sleep” and was looking forward to sleeping through the night while in St. Maarten.

On Sunday, she told the AP that she wasn’t sure how long she would stay in St. Maarten or precisely where her next leg would take her.

“I will just stay here now for a bit and I will think about that,” Dekker said. “I’ve not really a plan. I just want to be in the Panama Canal in May, April, so until that time I will cross the islands, I think.”

Overall, the solitude of the trip wasn’t difficult, she said, although she did have fleeting bouts of homesickness.

“There were two or three moments that I thought, ‘OK, why the hell am I doing this?’ But they were not for very long. If I feel really lonely I can always call my parents or something so then it’s over,” Dekker said.

Her circumnavigation attempt started two months after Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old American, had to be rescued in a remote section of the Indian Ocean during an attempt to circle the globe. Earlier this year, Jessica Watson of Australia completed a 210-day voyage at age 16.

But while Watson remained at sea nonstop, Dekker plans to stop at dozens of ports and may even return home to catch up on her studies before resuming her trip.

If Dekker completes the voyage, any record she claims would be unofficial and likely to be challenged. The Guinness World Records and the World Sailing Speed Record Council have decided they will no longer recognize records for “youngest” sailors to avoid encouraging dangerous attempts.

Dekker said she’s in no rush at all and is having an “amazing” experience out on the ocean.

“For me it’s more weird to be in a house for a week than to stay three weeks on a boat,” she said.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/cb_travel_brief_st_maarten_young_sailor

Abu Dhabi hotel regrets $11M Christmas ‘overload’ (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – An Abu Dhabi luxury hotel that boasted an $11 million Christmas tree decorated with gold and gems admitted Sunday it may have taken the holiday spirit a bit too far.

A statement from the Emirates Palace hotel said it regretted “attempts to overload” the Christmas tree tradition by adorning it with premium bling including gold, rubies, diamonds and other precious stones from a hotel jeweler.

The statement was a rare bit of reflection on the Gulf’s ethos of excess. The tree was unveiled last week with full fanfare in a hotel that features its own gold bar vending machine and a one-week $1 million package that includes private jet jaunts around the Middle East.

But the hotel management apparently had second thoughts after questions arose about whether the opulent tree was innocent good cheer or unfortunate bad taste.

The hotel regrets “attempts to overload the tradition followed by most hotels in the country with meanings and connotations that do not fall in line with the (hotel’s) professional standards,” said a statement carried on the state-run news agency WAM.

The hotel even tried to distance itself from the 43-foot (13-meter) faux fir in one of its rotundas, saying a hotel-based jeweler was solely responsible for creating and decorating the tree.

“The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree,” the statement said.

The hotel also claimed the tree was not a stunt, but rather an effort to boost the holiday mood for its guests based on the United Arab Emirates’ “values of openness and tolerance.”

Although officially Muslim, the UAE features many signs of Christmas for its huge foreign population. Lights, carolers and Santas are fixtures in nearly every mall.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/ml_travel_brief_emirates_11m_christmas_tree

Winter disruptions turn travel bitter and chaotic (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

LONDON – The Christmas travel season turned angry and chaotic Monday as British officials struggled to clear snow and ice that paralyzed rail and air links and spawned cancellations and delays stranding thousands around the world.

More than 48 hours after Britain’s last snowfall, some furious passengers with boarding passes for Monday flights were not even allowed into London’s Heathrow Airport. Inside, piles of garbage grew and some people slept on terminal floors.

Other travelers waited in the cold for up to six hours to get inside London’s St. Pancras train station, where they had to wait still longer for Eurostar trains to mainland Europe.

Chagrined British officials promised an inquiry into the failure to clear the remnants of a storm that dumped five inches over parts of England Saturday morning. Other European airports rebounded from weekend snowfall and resumed close to normal flight schedules by Monday.

“It can’t be beyond the wit of man surely to find the shovels, the diggers, the snowplows or whatever it takes to clear the snow out from under the planes, to get the planes moving and to have more than one runway going,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said as British Airways canceled its Monday short-haul schedule from Heathrow.

Forecasters have said Britain is experiencing some of the most severe winter weather in a century, with continued freezing temperatures and snowfall accumulations expected Monday afternoon and evening. Experts said the extreme winter weather may be related to climate change due to global warming. With a warmer climate, there’s more moisture in the air, which makes storms including blizzards more intense.

Heathrow operator BAA said swings in temperature after the five-inch snowfall in one hour Saturday led to extensive ice buildup around aircraft on the ground. BAA said “every available” staff member and several hundred additional contractors were trying to get the airport moving again.

But BAA offered little hope of relief from travel purgatory, saying a maximum one-third of scheduled flights would be allowed to take off and land at Heathrow until at least 6 a.m. (0600 GMT, 1 a.m. EST) Wednesday. The British government approved night-flight operations at Heathrow in an effort to remove the backlog, but officials warned it may take until after Christmas to do so — and longer if more snow falls.

The capital’s smaller airport, Gatwick, announced late Monday that there will be no outbound flights until Tuesday morning because more snow is expected.

At Heathrow’s sprawling Terminal 5, tired and disgruntled passengers faced lengthy waits without much information as piles of garbage grew throughout the complex.

“The whole situation is horrible,” said teenager Sophiya Bolkova, as she clutched her ticket home to Moscow after three days’ delay. “We are very angry. People were just mean, rude, sleeping on the floor, babies sleeping on the floor, no information, no help, no money for hotels.”

American Suzie Devoe, 20, spent two nights on the airport floor and was desperately trying to get back to Washington for Christmas.

“I just want to get home, I want to be with my family. But I’m being held in a horrible limbo,” the Bristol University student said.

At St. Pancras, hundreds of frustrated travelers hoping to travel to France and Belgium by train stood in a line that wound through the station, around the outside of the huge building and several hundred yards (meters) down the road.

Many had been there for five hours or more, bundled up in parkas, scarves, gloves and hats against the chill, or clutching cups of tea and coffee from a Salvation Army van that had handed out 2,000 hot drinks since before dawn.

Train operator Eurostar broadcast loudspeaker announcements warning people not to travel unless their journey was “absolutely essential.” Many said they were getting little other information. A spokeswoman said the delay was due to safety reasons, as trains traveling at high speeds in icy conditions can be damaged, but she promised good service on Tuesday.

Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest, was clear of snow and ice but officials canceled about 300 of 1,340 flights because of problems elsewhere in Europe.

French civil aviation authorities, meanwhile, asked airlines to reduce their flights at the two main Paris airports by 30 percent.

The snow-related problems come near the end of a year filled with travel disruptions, including the April shutdown of much of Europe’s airspace because of a plume of ash from a volcano eruption in Iceland.


Jill Lawless in London, Geir Moulson and Juergen Baetz in Berlin, Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels, Elaine Ganley and Jeff Schaeffer in Paris and Karel Janicek in Prague contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/eu_travel_brief_europe_weather

Club Med Sandpiper Bay’s grand reopening deal

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

For the AJC

Club Med Sandpiper Bay of Port St. Lucie offers grand reopening rates.

After undergoing a $25 million transformation, Club Med Sandpiper Bay located in Port St. Lucie, Fla., reopened last week — just in time for the holidays.

Known as the only all-inclusive family resort in the United States, Sandpiper Bay is the flagship of Club Med “premium sports” resorts with elite sports training programs and state-of-the-art facilities.

The 216-acre renovated Sandpiper Bay features two new restaurants, Slice Bar Lounge, four swimming pools including an infinity pool exclusively for adults and a certified lap pool. The resort also boasts a water front wedding gazebo. Enhanced accommodations include spacious Deluxe Family Rooms offering separate bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms with plenty of space for the entire family.

Club Med reinvents the way children vacation by creating personalized experiences for kids of all ages from four months to 17 years old. Sandpiper Bay welcomes the Raggs’ canine characters from the public television series to interact with children in fun and educational programs. New facilities for younger guests include a Kidz Village with a splash park, an art center and Latitude 27 degrees, a new lounge for juniors.

Home to the new Club Med Academies, Sandpiper Bay offers a world-class training environment in tennis, golf and fitness with coaching from reputable experts in the sports industry. Coaches include Gabe Jaramillo, who trained the likes of Agassi and Seles, Brad Brewer, host of Golf Channel’s Daily Brew, and professional tri-athlete and five-time Ironman Champion Heather Gollnick. Facilities include 21 tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, a Tom Fazio II designed practice facility including a putting green and driving range, a new pro-shop and a 12,000 sq. ft clubhouse.

Club Med invites guests to be among the first to experience the resort with a grand opening rate of $159 per person, per night. To take advantage of this special rate, reserve a stay by Jan. 31, 2011 for travel through Feb. 22, 2011.

For more information, or to make a reservation, visit www.clubmed.us/sandpiperbay, call 1-800 CLUB MED or contact your preferred travel professional.

Port St. Lucie is just 40 minutes north of the world-class shopping and cultural attractions of West Palm Beach; 100 miles north of the cosmopolitan city of Miami and 100 miles southeast of Orlando.

With a one week advance notice of travel, get to West Palm Beach at one-way rates as low as $66. Both AirTran and Delta offer frequent nonstop flight service.

Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.

Article source: http://www.ajc.com/travel/deals/club-med-sandpiper-bays-782842.html

Lunar eclipse: Free talks and telescope viewing at Griffith Observatory

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Skip the holiday parties Monday night and head instead to Griffith Observatory for a bash to mark the last lunar eclipse of the decade. OK, there might not be eggnog, but there will be free telescopes to peek through and lectures about the sky event, which organizers say should be remarkable — if the weather cooperates.

The observatory will be open from 8 p.m. Monday to 1:30 a.m. Tuesday with telescopes (not the huge ones) set up for viewing, though the eclipse also will be visible with the naked eye. The “show” will start about 10:30 p.m. as the eclipse begins, and totality will start at 11:41 p.m. Observatory director E.C. Krupp plans to don a wizard costume to “welcome” the moon back to the night sky after the eclipse.

What do you need to go eclipse watching? Dress in layers that will keep you warm and dry as the temperature drops. And wear sensible shoes or hiking boots with thick socks to keep your feet warm too.

If it’s cloudy and rainy, which it may be, given the storms moving through Southern California, Vo said come out anyway for lectures about the eclipse at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:45 p.m. Those craving a more remote location for better viewing of the sky show should head far from city lights.

A note about the observatory: Because of government spending cutbacks, the facility is normally closed Mondays and Tuesdays. However, in addition to Monday’s special event, it will be open Tuesday, Dec. 28 and Jan. 4.

Contact: Griffith Observatory, (213) 473-0800. Admission to this event is free.

Article source: http://www.latimes.com/travel/deals/la-trb-griffith-observatory-lunar-eclipse-20101217,0,7620589.story

Last-Minute Winter Travel Deals

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

The holiday season may be in full force, but it’s not too late to book a quick winter vacation.

The CBS Early Show outlined a handful of tips to get the best deals on winter trips, even booked now at this late stage in the season (watch the report below).

“You can’t get any more last minute than Dec. 20th,” says Early Show Travel Editor Peter Greenberg, adding there are some great deals out there still.

Here are a few of Greenberg’s tips:

  • Don’t go where everyone else is going: there are some great deals along the Atlantic seaboard with hotel rates starting as low as $79 a night
  • Avoid the obvious: while everyone else is heading to the beach, you can get some great deals and beat the lines at wine tasting tours for instance
  • Check dates: even just a few days difference in your plans can result in a huge drop in prices such as air fare


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Article source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/20/winter-travel-deals-2010_n_799231.html

Vail, Beaver Creek lift tickets cross $100 mark (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

ASPEN, Colo. – Ski lift tickets have crossed the $100 mark at Vail Mountain and Beaver Creek.

The websites for both resorts say a single-day lift ticket at the ticket window is $102 through Dec. 25. That rises to $108 from Dec. 26-Dec. 31 before falling back to $102 for the first two weeks of January.

The Aspen Times reports that Aspen Skiing Co.’s peak season single-day lift ticket price is $99 at the window.

Customers who buy online in advance can get discounts, especially for multi-day tickets.


Information from: The Aspen Times, http://www.aspentimes.com/

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_100_lift_tickets

Obama, family, entourage expected soon in Kailua (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

KAILUA, Hawaii — While President Barack Obama’s standing in Washington has dropped a notch or two in the year since he and his family last spent their holiday vacation in this beach community, the thrill is definitely not gone for many Kailuans about him coming back.

“I’m very excited,” said Virginia Carnohan, owner of The Cottage gift shop about 2 1/2 miles from the trio of multimillion dollar beachfront homes where the Obama family and friends will spend Christmas and New Year’s.

“We have a local boy who’s president and everybody’s very proud of that,” said Chuck Prentiss, chairman of the Kailua Neighborhood Board, a panel that advises Honolulu city officials on community concerns.

First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha arrived Saturday evening on Oahu — the island that contains the state’s largest city, where Obama was born and mostly raised. But the president is not expected until after Congress adjourns, possibly on Wednesday.

Last year, delayed by deliberations on the health care reform bill, the family didn’t get to Hawaii until Christmas Eve. This will be their third consecutive holiday visit to Kailua.

The Secret Service began alerting residents of spacious homes along Kailuana Place last week that checkpoints will soon go up. Hawaiian Telecom personnel were busily repairing telephone wiring outside one of the Obama homes, which sit midway down a cul-de-sac.

Once authorities throw up a cordon around the neighborhood, simple pleasures like walking the beach or canoeing in a canal near the three houses will become difficult — if not impossible.

The Democratic president is not expected to engage in fundraisers or other overtly political acts. Dante Carpenter, chairman of the Hawaii Democratic Party, said he’s asked if Obama could be enticed into attending even a low-key event, but he hasn’t heard back.

“I think he’s been up to his eyeballs in horse manure and gun smoke, not necessarily in that order,” Carpenter said. “He may be looking for time with his family and that’s about it. I can’t blame him.”

During a pre-election interview with a Hawaii radio station, Obama said he loves a secluded beach at a nearby Marine Corps base and intends to “hit a couple of golf courses.” His half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family also live on Oahu.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a college friend of the president’s father who knew Obama as a child, said Hawaii is something of a salve for the nation’s chief executive.

The Obamas “love it when they come here,” the Democratic governor said Wednesday. “He genuinely understands that this is … an atmosphere where he’s not being set upon. He knows he’s home with people who love him and care for him and his family.”

Joel Cavasso a real estate agent who is handling the rental of the houses where Obama and his group will stay, said the president’s visit is still important to Kailuans.

“I remember when John F. Kennedy came here and I was sitting on my father’s shoulders to get a glimpse of him,” Cavasso said. “It’s a big deal for people to see their president … Oops, I think I might have just aged myself.”

Carnohan, the gift shop owner, said she’s hoping Obama at least stops for a bite at a well-known restaurant across a small plaza from her business.

“He brings a lot of energy to Kailua,” she said. “There’s a buzz that translates into more curiosity-seekers and that translates into more foot traffic … It’s kind of like my own little (economic) stimulus.”

A Kailua business that has been a regular stop for Obama and his daughters the last three years is Island Snow, a beachwear store that is most famous for its shave ice — a version of what mainlanders know as snow cones.

“That was the first time I’ve ever met anyone that important in my life,” said a still-beaming Cheyne Vincent, 20, an Island Snow supervisor who snagged a picture with the president at the shop last year.

Vincent is hoping that Obama again shows up with his two daughters, several friends, and the small army of Secret Service, local police and media that tied up the block for 90 minutes last year.

“He was really cool, really nice, really humble,” Vincent added.


Associated Press writer Mark Niesse contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/us_travel_brief_obama_hawaii

Anger rises as travel havoc snarls Britain, Europe (AP)

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel News

LONDON – Frustrated travelers in Europe expressed fury Monday at transportation officials’ inability to clear snow and ice from planes, runways and high-speed train tracks, failings that have caused holiday travel chaos and fears that many will not get home in time for Christmas.

The continent’s worst bottleneck was London’s Heathrow Airport, where thousands of travelers were stranded overnight as flight cancellations increased even as other major European airports resumed normal operations after several days of four weather delays.

London Mayor Boris Johnson summed up the exasperation as Britain suffered another day of travel setbacks.

“It can’t be beyond the wit of man surely to find the shovels, the diggers, the snow-ploughs or whatever it takes to clear the snow out from under the planes, to get the planes moving and to have more than one runway going,” he said as British Airways canceled its Monday short-haul schedule from Heathrow.

Air traffic control agency Eurocontrol said Monday on its website that the situation at Heathrow had become “chaotic.”

Embarrassed British officials promised an inquiry into the poor performance of the transport network, with Transport Secretary Philip Hammond planning to address Parliament about the failures, which included massive delays on the Eurostar rail service linking England to France and Belgium.

At Heathrow’s sprawling Terminal 5, tired and disgruntled passengers faced lengthy waits without much information.

American Suzie Devoe, 20, was one of many who had spent two nights sleeping on the airport floor in a bid to get home for the holidays. She was desperately trying to rearrange a flight so she could get back to Washington to spend Christmas with her family. “The whole situation has been a complete nightmare,” said the Bristol University student. “I just want to get home, I want to be with my family. But I’m being held in a horrible limbo.”

Hundreds of passengers camped overnight in Heathrow terminal buildings after services were canceled or delayed.

British Airways said all short-haul flights from Heathrow would be canceled Monday.

Eurostar reported that its trains linking England to France and Belgium were also severely delayed or canceled and urged travelers to cancel or postpone their trips if possible. Lines of delayed passengers snaked outside the St. Pancras rail station in central London.

The Eurostar website advised passengers holding reservations for later trains on Monday that the rail service would not be able to accommodate them because of the backlog.

Criticism of the situation at London’s Heathrow and other airports prompted British officials to promise an investigation.

The strain was also felt at Brussels Airport, which is facing a shortage of deicing liquid and can’t guarantee departures for planes that need deicing until at least midnight Tuesday, the airport said Monday in its Twitter feed.

The airport said that the shortage is due to transportation problems in France, adding that “the weather forecast is not so positive.”

In Germany flight operations were slowed even though Frankfurt airport, Germany’s biggest, was clear of snow and ice. Officials canceled about 300 flights there Monday, out of a planned total of 1,340, because of problems elsewhere in Europe, airport operator Fraport said.

French civil aviation authorities, meanwhile, asked airlines to reduce their flights at the two main Paris airports by 30 percent.

Tempers were on the rise at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.

Donna Gordon, a stranded Irish traveler, took her complaint directly to Transport Minister Thierry Mariani who made a trip to the airport to check on passengers.

“We’ve been here since Saturday at 6 a.m. and our flight keeps saying on time, on time, on time ….,” she complained. “I’m standing in the same clothes I’ve been wearing for three days.”

More snow is forecast in some areas of Britain for Monday afternoon, adding to the problems, with British Airways warning of more flight cancellations, particularly in the greater London area, where all airports have been affected.

Winter storms forced British government ministers and bank executives to postpone their meeting Monday on the politically touchy issue of bank bonuses. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills did not announce a new date but said it hoped the meeting could be rescheduled later this week.

Forecasters have said Britain is experiencing some of the most severe winter weather in a century, with continued freezing temperatures and snowfall accumulations expected Monday afternoon and evening.

Airports and British travel industry group ABTA have warned it is almost inevitable that some cancellations and delays will continue through this week and likely snarl those attempting to head away for the holiday season.

British Airways warned passengers not to travel to London’s Heathrow airport unless they have a confirmed seat on a flight known to be operating despite the weather problems and the backlog of delays. It urged travelers to consider canceling their flight if possible.

Icy conditions were also hampering travel across Europe, with flights canceled and delayed in multiple countries at the weekend.

“We are awaiting further updates,” before publishing the schedule for the remainder of the day, British Airways said in a statement. “Customers should continue to check their flight status as more snow is forecast this afternoon, which could cause further disruption to airport operations.”

In Britain criticism of the breakdown in the air and road system mounted, prompting Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to promise an inquiry into the way passengers were treated after their flights were canceled. He was expected to address Parliament about the crisis Monday afternoon.

Travelers described scenes of chaos for those arriving at the Heathrow airport, with officials offering contradictory messages about the status of flights.

In France, Jean Louis Balam, a Dutch passenger who spent the night at Charles de Gaulle airport trying for a second day to get from Paris to Amsterdam said passengers had to improvise overnight at the airport.

“We went to the airport yesterday evening and we wanted to go to Amsterdam and we waited here about five hours,” he told Associated Press Television News. “We had to sleep at the airport because … hotels were full. ”

Blandine Sabadie also found herself sleeping at the airport. She said passengers were escorted to an “improvised” area with portable beds, blankets and warm drinks.

French Transport Minister Thierry Mariani said on France-Info radio that it is “unacceptable” that some 3,000 people were blocked at Charles de Gaulle airport over the weekend and called a meeting this week of airlines to find ways to improve communication with passengers.

The minister, explaining multiple delays around Europe, said that when a runway is closed for an hour the lost time cannot be reclaimed. “For each hour lost, it is some 70 to 80 flights that you can’t recover during the day,” he said.

Authorities in parts of western Germany banned trucks weighing more than 7.5 tons from highways as a safety measure.

In the Czech Republic eight regional railways were shut because of the weather but the international airport at Prague remained open. Schipol Airport in Amsterdam was also fully operational Monday after several days of delays.


Geir Moulson and Juergen Baetz in Berlin, Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels, Elaine Ganley and Jeff Schaeffer in Paris contributed to this report.

Article source: http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/rss/aptrne/*http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap_travel/20101220/ap_tr_ge/eu_travel_brief_europe_weather

Ten (Almost) Free Travel Deals: 2010 Edition

December 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Travel Deals

Freebies! It’s not just a buzzword anymore. Penny-pinching is more important than ever these days, and we’ve compiled a variety of deals that offer a little something extra for your travel dollars. These almost-free deals run the gamut from beaches to ski slopes, Alaska to Europe, and more.

Read on to see our top picks for the coming year, and don’t forget to share the good travel deals you’ve been seeing in the comment section below.


Free Companion Airfare to the Bahamas

Not looking forward to the long, cold winter? Why not hit the beach? With its free airfare offer, the Bahamas wants friends, couples, and other traveling pairs to take a sunny vacation on the cheap. Book an airfare-and-hotel vacation package of four nights or more at a participating Bahamas hotel, and you’ll receive free airfare for your companion. More than 40 properties throughout Nassau/Paradise Island, Grand Bahama Island, and the outlying islands are taking part in the promotion. Book by February 9 for travel through June 30.

Vegas Freebies

Vegas.com has a constantly updated roster of “Buy Get Free Specials” on its deals homepage. At publication time, several downtown and Strip hotels were offering free nights, with some deals as low as a free night with just one night’s minimum stay. Properties and travel dates will vary, so check back often to find the best deal that works for your budget. You can also find free continental breakfast offers, food and beverage credits, and vouchers for other free perks in the “Upgrade, Dining, Other Package Specials” section of the Vegas.com deals page.

Fourth Night Free at Disneyland

Southwest Vacations has put together a Fourth Night Free Disneyland Resort Vacation Package deal. Book a minimum four-night airfare-and-Disneyland-resort package by February 19, including Park Hopper passes, and you’ll get a free fourth night at your resort, as well as early access to select attractions throughout the park with “Magic Morning” admission. Additionally, with Southwest, your first two bags fly at no extra charge. Travel is valid between January 4 and April 11.

Free Night, Breakfast in Puerto Rico

You don’t need a passport to visit Puerto Rico, and with the island’s latest promotion, you won’t need a lot of extra cash, either. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s latest deal, Puerto Rico Sparkles, features a free fourth night at more than 30 participating hotels, free breakfast, and discounts on area tours and car rentals. Book by January 15 for travel through April 15.

Free Blue Lagoon Excursion With Iceland Vacation Packages

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions, and with Icelandair’s Build Your Own budget package, you can visit it for free. Packages start at $499 per person and include round-trip airfare, two nights’ accommodation at a participating Reykjavik hotel, daily breakfast, and fuel surcharges. The Blue Lagoon transfer and entry admission are included during your first day in country. Travel is valid through March; no booking deadline had been listed at publication time.

More than 130 Two-for-One Deals in Alaska

Everything in the Alaska Tour Saver coupon book is two-for-one—and there are more than 130 deals in all. Available for $99.95, the Alaska Tour Saver book offers buy-one, get-one free deals for lodging, dining, tours, rental cars, cruise excursions, and more. Many travelers find they recoup the cost of the book by using just one or two coupons. Additionally, if you’re not satisfied with the book, there’s a 10-day money-back guarantee. Sample offers include two-for-one whale watching cruises from Alaska Galore Tours, buy-one-get-one-free half-day rainbow trout fly fishing excursion from Susitna Valley River Guides, and a two-for-one Denali Jeep backcountry safari tour from Alaska Travel Adventures.

Complimentary Resort Credits With Marriott

Many travelers are attracted to resorts for their “everything under one roof” amenities—luxurious accommodations, golf courses, restaurants, spas, and more. Yet at the same time, many find the high prices associated with those on-site amenities to be off-putting. Now, Marriott has put together a deal that covers the best of both worlds: A $50 resort credit for each day of your stay, so you can take advantage of those “one-stop” extras at no additional charge. At publication time, 19 properties throughout Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas were participating in the deal. A two-night minimum stay is required; credits are then allocated for each additional night stayed. This offer is available through January 31.

Rock Resorts Offers Complimentary Nights

Rock Resorts is luring winter travelers with its Three for Free promotion this season. Participating properties can be found throughout ski country (Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico), Florida, and the Caribbean. Book by January 31 to receive the free night, a complimentary $50 gift card, and a hydration backpack at no extra charge. Travel must be completed by April 3.

Free Checked Bag With Kimpton

Hate paying baggage fees at the airport? Book your hotel stay with Kimpton and you won’t have to! The hotel brand’s We’ve Got Your Bag program offers a $25 room credit to offset the charges for your second checked bag. No expiration date has been listed; to get the room credit, you must book a room using Kimpton’s “Best Available Rate” pricing category and present proof of the airline baggage charge at check-in.

Stay and Ski Free

Pinecrest Chalet in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains has a Ski and Stay Free offer: Book a Sunday through Thursday night stay at the chalet and get two adult lift tickets at nearby Dodge Ridge Wintersports Area (a $118 value). Winter rates at Pinecrest start at $110 per night; some accommodations have kitchenettes and fireplaces. No expiration date has been listed for this promotion, and winter rates are in effect through March 26.

Your Turn

Have you seen any good deals that offer free perks? Share your insider secrets by submitting a comment below!

Article source: http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/ten-almost-free-travel-deals-2010-edition.html?id=6426975

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