Top Ten Hush-Hush Hotel Perks

“Hotels usually aren’t shy about showcasing their perks. Whether its designer toiletries in the bathrooms, expansive outdoor pools, a luxurious spa and fitness center or a big name restaurant, chances are, hoteliers want you to know what extras are at your disposal.

But here’s a secret: many properties also have amenities that they don’t advertise. Why? Because these hush-hush hotel perks work wonders for garnering press, but can cost a fortune. As a result, hoteliers publicize these pricey (for the hotel that is) extras with care. Now, we’re blowing the cover on some of the best under-the-radar freebies.

From free car service to grocery shopping to decadent, made-to-order breakfasts, these are the bonuses you need to know about before you book your next hotel….”

Free Weekends at over 100 National Parks

The tough times keep getting better. According to the latest report by the International Air Traffic Association international air traffic is down 9.3% from last year. The recession has scared travelers away from the airports and their passports and encouraged weekend trips and staycations. While U.S. cities may not be particularly exiting to most Americans, the National Park scene is hitting its stride. This upcoming weekend on August 15-16, over 100 U.S. National Parks will be offering free admission. Although industrialization has taken over the land, there is still vast amounts of country and our National Parks are still hailed as some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Zion Canyon, Utah

This stimulus plan will actually put money back into the country by way of federal land revenue. The government offered three free weekends this summer; the one closing upon us being the last of the three. There are also free tours and discounts for lodging and hotels within park land. Because of this, vacationing to National Parks has risen %6 percent in 2009. With over 300 monuments, parks and recreational areas in the country, we’ve compiled a list of the best National Parks to visit based on the experience, crowds, and accessibility.

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Yosemite National Park, California
Denali National Park, Alaska
Zion National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Acadia National Park, Maine
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tenn-N.C.
The National Mall, Washington D.C.

For more specific information on the national parks, visit the parks and services website. Also for a direct link to the list of 100 parks that are offering free admission click here.

Presidential Inauguration: Hotels and Travel Tips

The historic inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden is quickly approaching with events beginning on January 15th through the day Obama officially takes office on the 20th.

The day a President takes office is generally a pretty big deal and can make travel relatively hectic. If you plan on making the trip to be a part of history in the making and join the thousands of others at the inauguration ceremony, we’ve outlined some can’t miss travel tips and hotel recommendations to ensure your trip is as historical as the ceremony.

Inaugural Events:
The Inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Ave. is free and open to everyone but all other inaugural event will require tickets.
– A New Birth of Freedom’
– Swearing in Ceremony
– Parade
– Inaugural Balls

The Tickets:
Tickets to the swearing in ceremony are free but you must request them from your U.S. representative or senator. You can guarantee that these tickets are going to go fast so if you haven’t called already get on the phone!

Be wary of people or websites selling tickets to the swearing in ceremony. Even though it is not illegal to resell your tickets it is highly discouraged. And anyone stating that they will be mailed to you or that they are on hand is flat out lying. The 240,000 tickets are all in a secure location and must be picked up in person the day before the event.

Travel Tips

D.C. hotels are certainly going to be swamped and as such you can expect stay minimums or jacked up rates. To help alleviate you from some of the travel pandemonium and stay within a reasonable budget check out suburban hotels in outlying areas.

– Hotels near Arlington/Pentagon

– Hotels near Downtown DC

– Hotels near Alexandria

– Hotels near DuPont Circle

– Hotels near Bethesda MD

– Hotels near Fairfax

– Hotels near Capitol Hill

– Hotels near Ronald Reagan National Airport

– Hotels near College Park

Things to Do:
The inaugural events are great but if it’s your first time to D.C. you may want to hit some of the popular attractions and indulge in the patriotic spirit of the nations capital:
1. D.C. by Foot
2. City Segway Tours of Washington, DC
3. Washington National Cathedral
4. Lincoln Memorial
5. Washington Monument
6. U.S. National Arboretum
7. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
8. Vietnam Veterans Memorial
9. Newseum
10. Mobiletours

Where to Eat:
Here are some top rated delicatessens for you to indulge during your inaugural trip.
1. Dolcezza
2. Michel Richard Citronelle
3. Zaytinya
4. Makoto Restaurant
5. Sushi Taro
6. Komi
7. CityZen
8. Rasika
9. Minibar – Cafe Atlantico
10. Fogo de Chao

Good luck on your Inaugural adventure, travel safe and have fun!

Aqua Hotels and Resorts “99 Days of Summer”

Aqua hotels and resorts just kicked off the “99 Days of summer” promotion event. These deals will last, you guessed it, 99 days. With summer on its way, the crunch to get good deals on hot resort destinations won’t last long. If you’re traveling to Hawaii this is these are the best deals on the market. There are 12 Aqua hotels in Waikiki, all of which are under $100 dollars a night. Since Hawaii is a tourist destination I advice booking in advance for the opportunity to save the most cash. This promotion only lasts until September 7th of this year, so act quick.

Aqua hotels have created two lines of service to accommodate all types of peoples. There is a boutique line and a “LITE” line. The LITE line provides free Wi-Fi high speed Internet and complimentary daily paper. Aqua Waikiki beachside and Park Shore Waikiki locations have great views right on the beach, which is very unusual for budget resorts. There are many little quarks and benefits of the LITE hotel at each location; for example, the Aqua Continental location is dog friendly. Here are some of the starting rates for the LITE line.

Aqua Continental -$59

Aqua Island Colony – $69

Aqua Waikiki Beachside – $79

Park Shore Waikiki – $89

The Boutique Line of hotels from Aqua also has availabilities under $100 dollars. These locations although cheap, have many more services than the LITE line. There are flat screens, free access to fitness facilities and all the lavish room service need that the more expensive hotel lines pride themselves on. For more information on Waikiki Aqua Boutiques go to Safe Travels.

5 Unique Wedding Locations You’ll Love

The marriage season has arrived in full bloom us and lovebirds everywhere are planning their wedding event. Check out these 5 unique places to have a wedding and attend a summer season of wedded bliss in one of these exotic locales.

Botanical Gardens:

Imagine taking your vows against a lush exotic background with your dress flowing gently in the breeze and the soft, alluring aroma of wildflowers dancing to your movements. Botanical Gardens are a spiritual experience like none other and in the last decade have risen through the ranks as prime wedding destinations. The green movement has shown many that a spiritual experience is much better suited for a beautiful outdoor surrounding. With very little cost, renting a gazebo area at a garden can give you a private wedding that produces amazing photography and an atmosphere comfortable for everyone. If you don’t believe me, just check out the photos. Gardens are located all over the country and are already prepared for your wedding needs.

Taking the Ultimate Dive:

Tropical reefs are arguably one of the most stunning sites in the world. Why not get married under water? A ceremony on the beach is great, but it has been done and you end up getting sand in your dress. Plan your wedding around the honeymoon, dawn your best scuba attire and tie the knot amongst the tropical wildlife and profess your love to Poseidon and the Sea itself. Are family and friends wary of braving the great tropical blue but don’t want to miss a second of the action? Rent a glass bottom boat and let the dry loved ones enjoy your matrimony from the comfort of a cushion. You can even hire an underwater camera man to capture every moment on screen. Hook up a monitor on the glass bottom boat and allow your fellow sea goers to enjoy two views of your underwater bliss. For those looking for a truly unique experience this is at the top of the list. There are many beautiful destinations for your underwater matrimony such as the Caribbean, the South Pacific, the Great Barrier Reef, but if you can’t go that far try the Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida. This will bring great weather, stunning photos, and a fun honeymoon.

Italian Castles:

There isn’t a much more lavish, unique and romanatic wedding as one in an early thirteenth century castle. You may think that in order to get this type of Fairytale wedding destination one would have to set off to the Tuscan countryside or the Chauteu outside of Paris. On the contrary, Italy is home to St. Pattie’s cathedral a real castle on the Italian coast with amazing spreads of food and local flowers for the wedding garments.

Instead of having your wedding in an expensive church, consider having your wedding remembered as the highest form of art. Italy has more restored castles than any other country in Europe. Over centuries old, every castle blows away any baroque cathedral you can find in the western world. Above all, when you leave your ceremony, instead of being back in a familiar U.S. city, you’ll be spending your honeymoon, down the road in a small Tuscany village.

There are plenty of large wedding planners that have brochures of these castles at your disposal. But if you are one of the many pro-active planners, I’ve found a site that offers all the castle wedding sites in Italy and honeymoon services/packages. Italian Weddings offers a map of all the sites, beautiful photography and all the requirements necessary to make your dream wedding take place in a real castle.

Skydiving into Matrimony:

Skydiving has become much more traditional for wedding in recent years (we say that in jest). With so many available instructors and businesses around the country, having your vows read in an airplane before plunging through the skies is not so crazy. For the young but not excluding anniversary couples, celebrating your bond while flying through a blue sky is something no one can take away from you. There are other ways to kiss and fly, such as hot-air balloon weddings and bungee jumping. Although these are also exiting I feel a sky dive really gives you and your spouse a genuine moment of silence together to soak in the vows you have just taken. Some priests will be happy to go up with you, but many couples wait till they land to finish the ceremonies.

There are skydiving clinics and marriage programs everywhere in the U.S. but I found one that might suit your entire wedding weekend. Although Las Vegas may not be your cup of tea, since the ceremony of flying only lasts a few minutes, you may want a city to parade in after you’ve landed. Vegas Extreme is a group that does a very dedicated and tasteful direction towards your sky diving wedding. They give you a DVD, can plan for your bridesmaids and groomsmen to dive as well and a professional wedding photographer (who sky dives as well).

Weddings on Waves:

Dream vacations to Tahiti may not be in every family’s budget this quarter; consequently some vintage approaches to the wedding celebration have come to light. Taking the classic approach of getting married or renewing wedding vows on a cruise ship has also become a little to pricey for some couples. All of these factors have spurred a new rave in marriage celebrations; the freighter cruise.

Before the first luxury cruise ships started their careers, such as the Queen Mary, the only intercontinental ships at sea were freighters and explorers. Crossing one of the great oceans before the advent of jet airplanes was still a long journey. Many famous writers, artists and celebrities such as Mark Twain would use these long adventures on the ocean to find themselves spiritually. Now young and old couples alike are both testing the waters by taking freight cruises around the world. These journeys have an informal mood with everyone you meet having an interesting story.

This may seem like a muggy idea, but the Maris Cruise Line is a very sophisticated company that gives an opportunity for travelers to take a less mainstream journey across all the exotic oceans in the world. It’s a peaceful journey with no screaming kids or obnoxious tourists. Book you wedding at their website Of all the innovative ceremonial ideas, this is by far the least exotic, but for some it may be the perfect retreat from the helter skelter of the wedding season.