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August 12, 2005
Mandarin Oriental's "All Access Package"

The MTV Video Music Awards will take place on August 28th at the American Airlines Arena. I'll be watching from home, but for those true ballers out there, you can book the Mandarin Oriental "All Access Package" for a mere $29,000.

The package includes your choice from one of two presidential suites that will be stocked with Cristal Rose Champagne and Beluga caviar. The three-night deal also includes a chauffeured Hummer, a 24-hour butler, spa treatments, dinner at Azul, a gift certificate for a pair of fabby Rock and Republic Jeans, a 'goody bag featuring Gucci and Dior sunglasses, a Dolce & Gabbana towel, a Baccarat Crystal butterfly, The Art of Shaving Travel Kit, a custom-programmed iPod with Louis Vuitton case, Chanel products, candles, creams and more.

Posted by Gus at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

August 10, 2005
Police catch FLL Airport luggage thief

Police have arrested a man accused of 10 luggage robberies at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport.

Langston Austin, a convicted armed robber from Pensacola, is being held without bond. He's charged with three counts of grand theft.

Broward police began investigating the crimes after ransacked bags started turning up inside men's restrooms at the airport.

"His method of operation was the same every day. He would pick (bags) up in Terminal One, take them to Terminal Two, open them up, untag them so that customers or passengers would not be able to identify them later and go through them and later discard them after he picked out his items of choice," said Liz Cazadilla-Fiallo, of the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Austin also had an active warrant out of Miami Dade County for cocaine possession at the time of his arrest.

See a mugshot of Langston Austin at nbc6.

Posted by Gus at 11:07 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2005
Google Maps Miami Hotels

Google has released it's Maps API; we have integrated it into our site to create a map of hotels in Miami, Florida.

Implementing a Google Map was important to us because it helps connect Miami hotels, and travelers researching local products and services in a more valuable way.

Users can browse over 100 different hotels in and around Miami, searching a street-map, satellite image, or a hybrid of the two.

The navigation is easy to use--just drag the map with your mouse, and use the slider to zoom in and out.

Hotels benefit greatly from online mapping. Linking a map to a business profile will allow each hotel to maximize it's visibility. Recent studies have shown that more consumers are researching local businesses online before heading out to make a purchase. By using MiamiBeach411's map, potential customers can pinpoint the exact location of a hotel in seconds.

By providing un-biased local coverage, competitive hotel rates, and a unique approach to displaying hotels in a visual format, has become a major stop for Miami travelers seeking hotel information.

Posted by Gus at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2005
Google currency conversion tool

Google added a new currency conversion tool to their help page. I just used it to convert "70 miles to kilometers".

Source: Google Help Desk

Posted by Gus at 07:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005
American Airlines is a F'd Company

This is a follow-up to Gus' post about our trip to New Orleans. The Search Conference was great, and our hotel in New Orleans was beautiful, but there was a big bump in the road getting there.

The short version of the story is, our American Airlines flight that was supposed to leave at 2pm didn't leave until 11pm. This was after 7 gate changes and rescheduling our departure 10 times. We weren't too perturbed because we had "The Incredibles" on DVD, but you should have seen the other passengers freaking out!

Being the Travel Specialist that I am, I had to see what other people were saying about how American Airlines treats their passengers. I came across a very revealing document at F'd Company -- an internal memo from a Regional Manager to all American Airlines flight attendants.

"Customers have told us repeatedly that were it not for our extensive global network, our schedule frequency, and our AAdvantage program, they would likely choose another airline to serve their needs, because they are dissatisfied with our overall service and lack of consistency."

Mr. AA Regional Manager sums that up nicely!

On a related note, I met Philip Kaplan, the founder of AdBrite and F'd Company at the conference, he is a very cool guy.


Posted by Michelle at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

International House in New Orleans

Michelle and I just returned from the Search Coference. Next time you visit New Orleans, we highly recommed staying at the International House Hotel on Camp Street.

This romantic, downtown hotel is one block from the French Quarter. The room rates are very reasonable. They have a nice restaurant and bar, and free wireless internet access for guests. Michelle said the Hotel reminded her of the Delano in South Beach, but with a New Orleans voodoo twist.

Posted by Gus at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2005
Boy dies after riding Epcot's 'Mission: Space'

Sadly, a 4-year-old boy died after passing out while aboard Walt Disney World's "Mission: Space" attraction -- an Epcot ride that has caused previous hospitalizations because of its intensity.

During an eight-month period that ended last year, six people over age 55 were taken to the hospital for chest pain and nausea after riding Mission: Space.

Last month, I visited Epcot and rode Mission: Space. I was surprised to see barf bags placed infront of my seat. After the ride, I understood why; it was the most nasuating ride I've ever experienced.

My heart goes out to the family that lost their son. No one expects a death to occur while on vacation.

Source: BoingBoing

Update: Reuters has some additional details. The family claims there was no history of ill health prior to the ride. There is also more detail on the post-death inspection of the attraction.

Disney officials have released a statement. The ride is open today after passing engineering and ride system inspections.

Posted by Gus at 11:38 AM | Comments (1)

Tips on tipping

As far as I know, Miami Beach is the only city in the U.S. where it is customary for restaurants to add the gratuity to the check. Waiters call the practice, tagging the check. They're hoping you don't see the added gratuity, and you mistakenly double tip them.

I'm sure the reason for adding the tip has to do with the large amount of European and South American visitors to the City.

But in opinion, this leads to lazy, bad service. I've seen many waiters who don't give a darn if you're having a good time because they know either way, the tip is included.

Most of the upper-class restaurants do not add a tip, but make sure to check your bill just in case.

If you have ever wondered who and how much to tip? Consumer Report has some advice for you:

"While 93 percent of survey respondents said they tip the bellhop who escorts them to their room, only 69 percent leave anything for the chambermaid who cleans it. But both should be tipped. Leave $2 per person each day for the chambermaid. To make sure the right person gets the money, don't leave a lump sum on your last day."

Here is more tipping advice from Dr. Dave & Dr. Dee:

At the Restaurant:

Maitre d': $20 or more, if a special service is performed such as getting you a table when you have no reservation and the restaurant is full.

Waiters: 15-20% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added to the bill. In the United States normally a gratuity is not automatically added unless you have a party of 6 or more. In a buffet restaurant, add 10% to the bill for gratuity.

Sommelier (Wine Steward): 15% percent of the bottle price

Cocktail Waitress: 15% of bill or $1 minimum whichever is greater (i.e. if a drink costs $5, then 15% is 75 cents, but leave $1).

Bartender: if you are served at the bar, 15% of the bill, or $1 minimum, whichever is greater.

Coat Check: $1 per coat

Restroom Attendants: $0.50-$1

Musician in Lounge: $1-$5.

At the Hotel:

Parking Valets: $1-2 when you leave your car and again when they get your car.

Bell Hop: $1 per bag plus a couple extra if he shows you the room.

Doorman: $1 for hailing a cab; if he helps with luggage, same as Bell Hop.

Concierge: nothing for simple questions. But, if they make restaurant reservations, obtain theater tickets for you, make travel arrangements, then $5-$10 per task performed. Put the gratuity in an envelope with a note of thanks and give to the concierge.

Room Service: 15% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added

Delivery to Room: if you requested something delivered such as a hairdryer: $1

Housekeepers (maids): $1-2 per day left at the end of your stay.

Spa Services: 15-20%, if a service charge is not already included. Ask that the gratuity be divided among the providers.

Swimming Pool Attendant: No tip for handing out towels, only if special service performed, then $1-$2.

Tour Guide: $2-$5 for a 1-2 hour sightseeing tour.

At the Airport:

Porters and Skycaps: $1 per bag

Shoeshine Person: $3-$5

Cab Drivers: 15% of the bill.

On a Cruise Ship:

Some cruise lines add the gratuity onto the payment for you, so check with the specific cruise ship on which you will be traveling. Otherwise, plan to include tipping as part of the cost of taking a cruise. Usually small envelopes are left in your cabin with suggestions for gratuity amounts such as:

Cabin Stewards and Waiters: $3-$4 each per guest per day.

Maitre d' and Busboy: $1.50-$2 each per guest per day. (Some suggest $10-$15 to Maitre d' for the week).

Hand out the gratuities in the envelopes to each person at the last evening’s meal, and to the cabin steward the day before the cruise ends. On a cruise ship, you don't need to tip your bartender, wine steward or bar waiter because a 15% surcharge has been added to every drink for gratuity. Some cruise lines may state “tipping not required”, but tips should still be given for good service. The link below gives tipping guidelines for different cruise lines.

if you're traveling abroad, check out what are the rules in different countries at Del Amo Travel.

Posted by Gus at 09:31 AM | Comments (1)

June 13, 2005
Bahamas mailboats

I just came across an alternative way to island hop in the Bahamas--the mailboat option (pic). These are slow boats that leave from Nassau and travel to the Out Islands.

Mailboat journey times can vary from 5 hours to 21 hours, depending on which island you're visiting. For example: Nassau to North Eleuthera and North Andros takes approximately 5 hours, and costs $30-$40; Nassau to Abaco takes approximately 12 hours, and costs 40; and Nassau to Long Island takes 15 hours and costs $45. The long-distance trips are not for me, but they show an interesting side of the Bahamas that few visitors see.

The Commonwealth of Bahamas publishes an updated mailboat schedule with sailing times and fares.

Posted by Gus at 10:38 AM | Comments (1)

June 10, 2005
Smugglers caught moving drugs on cruise ships

An undercover operation has stopped several hundred pounds of cocaine and heroin from entering South Florida aboard cruise ships.

"Agents said those running the drug operation were recruiting passengers and employees on cruise ships to participate in the efforts to smuggle the cocaine. Drugs were found on ships docking at the Port of Miami, Key West and Port Everglades."

Source: nbc6

Posted by Gus at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2005
Pride of America joins the fleet

Norwegian Cruise Line took delivery of its newest ship Pride of America Tuesday in Germany.

The Pride of America is headed to Hawaii, where it will offer island cruises and join the NCL fleet.

The 920-feet ship can carry 2,146 people and its interior decor reflects the best of America.

The Pride of America is one of the ships that received an exemption from President George Bush to operate in Hawaii, even though it would be built abroad. The ship originally was intended for the now-bankrupt American Classic Voyages. After Bush's exemption, NCL bought the incomplete hull and took it to the shipyard of Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, Germany, for construction.

Last year, a gale caused extensive damage to the interior of the near-complete ship delaying its arrival in the islands by nearly a year.

Here is a gallery of pics that shows construction of the ship.

Posted by Gus at 06:52 PM | Comments (0)

Wyndham Hotel from $88. Expires 6/30/05

The Wyndham Oceanfront Resort in Miami Beach is offering rooms from $88 if you book by June 30th, 2005.

"Wyndham Resort Hotel has several shops, a full-service salon, four restaurants, and even a florist. Guests can rent a boat at the private dock. A self-serve business center and 40,000 square feet of meeting space cater to business travelers. The hotel’s quiet stretch of beach is more private than that of most Miami Beach hotels.

Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi connections) is available in throughout the hotel and guest rooms for a charge of $10 per day."

For rates and availability, go here.

Posted by Gus at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

Wi-Fi connections on United Airlines

United Airlines and Verizon Airfone have become the first companies to receive Federal Aviation Administration approval to install the necessary cabin equipment to enable passenger and crew use of wireless technology (Wi-Fi) devices on board U.S. domestic commercial aircraft while in flight.

The date that customers can begin using Wi-Fi devices on United has yet to be determined by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) scheduled "Air-to-Ground" auction to be held in the coming months, where service rights will be awarded to one or more providers for onboard passenger access to the Internet.

Posted by Gus at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

"Transparency in Teleconferencing"

John J Nance from ABC News has written an interesting article that forsees the Airlines greatest future competition is "transparency in teleconferencing" and it's coming impact on the Airline Industry.

"When it matures to the status of transparency — when people can sit in two different parts of the planet and see and hear each other with the same degree of transparency we've achieved with voice communications — two very large challenges to commercial aviation will begin to roll across the industry like an economic hurricane — a change driven first by convenience, and then by cost.

Imagine sitting in a comfortable, well-appointed boardroom with your counterparts in full color and essentially three-dimensional clarity across the table in what appears to be the other half of the same room — when in fact they're in Tokyo or London and presented to your eyes as a high-definition, digitally reassembled, liquid crystal image on a seemingly transparent glass wall that divides the table. When someone speaks, you hear his or her voice coming from the same place you see their image. No cameras jerk around, eye contact is instant and easy, and documents can be exchanged in full color by very high-speed facsimile devices built into the table. Add to this a new breed of service organizations that will specialize in catering the same lunch on the same plates on both sides of an ocean, and you have what we in aviation have understood for a very long time: The effectiveness of good simulation. With the realism of a flight simulator, you're essentially together, with the exception that trying to shake hands through the glass won't work.

Now, imagine a cost of $40 per person per day versus $400 to $600 and you see why, when the technology matures to achieve transparency (where the medium no longer gets in the way), businesses simply won't have a choice. The result will be a massive decline in business airline travel.

He's right. Already, I've seen a Blackberry and Instant Messenging transform many small businesses.

But $40 for three-dimensional clarity, with high-speed faxes, and lunch off the same plates sounds too good to be true.

I'd pay $100 for a service like that. What's it worth to you? Post your answers in the comments.

Source: ABC News

Posted by Gus at 07:28 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005
Enchantment cruise ship cut in half

Royal Caribbean's, Enchantment of the Seas is drydocked in the Netherlands, awaiting to be welded back together.

Crews took two days last week to cut the ship in two with circular saws and torches. The crews cut through the steel outer hull, the watertight inner hull, interior spaces, thousands of cables, pipes and ventilation ducts. They even cut through the swimming pool on Enchantment's top deck.

Then they spread the two parts of the ship apart wide enough to slip in a new prefabricated middle section, which held 151 ready-to-occupy staterooms complete with furniture.

Next will come 12 to 15 days of work to weld the ship back together and connect the cables, pipes and ventilation ducts.

While some ships have been expanded this way before, none has been done as quickly. Enchantment will be out of the water for just one month.

Cruisenewsdaily has some artist renditions of the new design.

Posted by Gus at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2005
Airplane food smorgusborg

Nowadays, more and more airlines are offering less and less when it comes to serving onboard meals. That's why I was excited to find The site contains a smorgusborg of images of airplane food, indexed by airline. Plus behind-the-scenes stories, vintage ads and photos, and even reviews should you choose your flight based on which cardboard-like chicken breast rates highest.

Posted by Gus at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2005
Witness: Pilots accused of being drunk controlled plane

A veteran pilot testified Tuesday that two pilots accused of being drunk while operating an America West passenger plane at Miami International Airport were technically operating the plane even if it was still on the ground.

"Capt. Joseph Chronic, vice president for flight operations for America West, struck at a key part of the defense's strategy in describing at length what the airline requires a pilot and copilot to do to prepare a plane for flight."

"Chronic said that pilots are considered to be operating the aircraft even during their walk-around inspection of the plane and their preflight checks in the cockpit."

Source: Miami Hearld (registration required)

Posted by Gus at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Nude X-ray photos at airport security

The Providence Journal has gathered links and information about the latest airport scanner technology that will allow TSA employees to have 'X-ray vision', seeing details of travelers' bodies that we'd probably rather not have looked at. Source: WeBlog

Posted by Gus at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2005
How to beat jet lag

For anyone planning a long filight, here's some help to combat the effects of jet lag: The Anti-Jet Lag Diet, created by Chicago's Argonne National Laboratory, and tested on National Guard soldiers flying across 9 time zones. The diet takes a few days, alternating high-protein and high-carb meals, with some fasting and meal manipulation aboard the plane. For a fee, the site will calculate your diet for you.

Source: Infomaniac WeBlog

Posted by Gus at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2005
Florida Tops the Summer 2005 Travelers Wish List

The Travel Industry Association predicts a record breaking summer travel season. Despite rising prices, Americans will be traveling in record numbers with Florida as their their preferred destination.

• Florida - 34%
• California - 22%
• Nevada - 15%
• New York - 14%
• Hawaii - 13%
• Texas - 12%
• Colorado - 11%
• Arizona - 9%
• Tennessee - 8%
• South Carolina - 6%

Summer 2005 Highlights

Many trips will include children, with 37% of travelers taking kids on their longest trip. 6% will include a grandchild.

Traveling with one’s spouse is also popular (55%), as is traveling with other family members (19%) and traveling with friends (13%). 7% will travel with their parents and 8% will travel solo.

The top three planned activities are visiting friends and relatives (75%), going to a beach or lake (70%) and visiting small towns or rural areas (64%).

Rounding out the top ten summer traveler activities are: visiting cities/urban areas (54%), visiting national or state parks (47%), visiting historic sites (41%), camping, hiking or climbing (38%), fishing (36%), attending a family reunion (35%), or attending arts events (34%).

What else will summer travelers be doing? Most will be visiting museums (33%), theme parks (31%), gambling casinos (26%) or attending cultural events such as ethnic festivals (24%).

17% of summer travelers plan to use an RV, while 16% intend to enjoy an all-inclusive resort. 16% plan to travel outside the U.S. and 10% say they plan to take a cruise.

According to Dr. Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the Travel Industry Association of America, every sector of the travel industry will be up, . Americans will take 328 million leisure person-trips during June, July and August 2005.

While travel prices are up in the first three months of 2005, this will not discourage Americans from taking trips, but they will be looking for deals and ways to economize their summer vacations.

Source: Travel Industry Association of America

Posted by Gus at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

Miami, Vegas: topless ladies permitted

Since the 1980's, girls in Miami have gone topless to the beach. Well, sun worshipers in Las Vegas are following suit. HotelChatter points out that the latest trend in Vegas is for ladies at some of the hotels on the strip is to lounge poolside topless.

Posted by Gus at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Harbour Island in the Bahamas

CaribbeanGirl posted about her recent trip to Harbour Island in the Bahamas:

"Harbour Island is 3-miles long and one mile wide, small enough for walking, or you can rent a golf cart. The locals call it "Briland" (say Harbour Island fast 5 times). The beaches are PINK (a result of conch shells turned to sand) and IMMACULATE and there are very few people enjoying them. The water is crystal clear and a mix of deep blues. I can see why the Travel Channel named this as one of the Top 10 Beaches in the world."

Here is Travel Channel's review of Pink Sands.

CaribbeanGirl also has a collection of Harbour Island photos on her travel blog.

Posted by Gus at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2005
Airport gyms

Kevin Gillotti hates wasting time between flights when he travels. A few years ago, he began looking for gyms around airports and now lists them on his website,

His site now lists more than 50 health clubs in the United States and Canada. Most of the gyms are a short taxi ride away and cost $5 to $15. A few are in airports or airport hotels.

I searched for a gym at the Miami International Airport. They show that there is a gym in the airport terminal at the Miami International Airport Hotel. I called the hotel to get the details, and they told be the gym was CLOSED untill next year :-(

If you're looking for a gym near MIA, I suggest checking our list of hotels near Miami Airport.

Posted by Gus at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

Catalina Hotel 25% discount. Expires 05/25/05

The Catalina Hotel in Miami Beach is offering a 25% discount on rooms throughout the summer if you book by May 25th, 2005.

"Complimentary airport transportation is available to and from Miami International Airport. A complimentary Continental breakfast is served each morning. Wireless Internet Access is available in public areas. Coffee is available in the lobby; also in the lobby is an Internet kiosk that provides access to the Web."

For rates and availability, go here.

Posted by Gus at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

National Geographic photo contest

The folks at National Geographic Traveler are holding their 17th Annual Photo Contest - with a free trip to Guatemala as grandprize. The photograph must give a good idea of spirit of place - people, character, events and the soul of the land. If you haven’t taken a photo that does your skills justice, get out and start shooting. You can enter up to four photos for four chances to win and the deadline is August 15, 2005.

Posted by Gus at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Royal Caribbean shows come ashore

Royal Caribbean International has brought its entertainment to shore via Royal Caribbean Productions, the line’s in-house production company, now set to perform at land-based corporate events and private functions. For previews, RCI's new website also has info on how aspiring dancers, singers and comedians worldwide can audition to join company ensembles. Audition dates are on the site.

In 2001, the line opened the Royal Caribbean Productions Rehearsal Studios in Hollywood, Florida, where four shows can rehearse at any given time. Once perfected on land, shows head to sea, and there are now 42 in rotation, from “West End to Broadway” to “Can’t Stop the Rock.” The new web site features video montages and photos to give event planners a sense of what’s on tap. Performances can be booked for 10 minutes up to full-length shows, in full costume or concert style.

Posted by Gus at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

Defense says America West pilots not drunk

Remember the two America West pilots accused of being drunk in the cockpit. Well, their defense attorney says they are not guilty bceacuse they were never in control of the plane because it was being towed by a runway vehicle:

"Because the Airbus 319 bound for Phoenix was being towed from its gate at Miami International Airport, the steering was disengaged and neither pilot Thomas Cloyd nor co-pilot Christopher Hughes could operate the plane.

The driver of the tow vehicle was maneuvering the airliner, not the pilots, said attorney Daniel Foodman. The jet was inoperable at all times the two defendants were in the cockpit."

The pilots face up to five years in prison if convicted. They have been fired by the airline and have lost their commercial pilots' licenses.

Prosecutor Hillah Katz told the jury that both pilots had breath-alcohol levels above Florida's 0.08 percent limit after they were arrested. She said the argument that they were not operating the aircraft was ludicrous. "Operation is much more than flying that aircraft," Katz said.

Prosecutors say Cloyd and Hughes ran up a $122 bar tab and consumed 14 beers at a popular Coconut Grove sports bar after having dinner with drinks. They left the bar early in the morning, six hours before the flight was to depart.

The July 1, 2002, incident began when airport security workers noticed a strong odor of alcohol as the two pilots prepared to board the plane.

Source: ABC

Posted by Gus at 09:39 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2005
Hurricane Adrian projected path

Is it too early to be tracking Hurricane Adrian? The Flablog doesn't think so. Take a look at the map of Adrian's projected path.

Meanwhile, this juicy florida blog also says that that NOAA Hurricane website fans can chill about Sen. Santorum's bill threatening the site. It's still without a single co-sponsor.

Posted by Gus at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Airline food linked to illnesses

CNN has a story about airline food causing illness:

"Contaminated carrots served on several flights out of Honolulu likely caused 45 people to suffer food poisoning across 22 states, Japan, Australia and American Samoa, a state epidemiologist said Thursday."

My advice is to bring your own food. You know what you like to eat, and you’ll make new friends by sharing.

Source: CNN

Posted by Gus at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2005
Americans report not taking all of their vacation days

An survey reveals that American workers are estimated to leave more than 421 million vacation days on the table in 2005. In fact, nearly 31 percent of Americans reported that they do not always take all of their vacation days, despite admitting that they come back from a vacation feeling rested and rejuvenated.

For the first time, Expedia expanded its survey internationally to the working populations of Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands to uncover how they utilized their vacations. Compared to other countries, Americans' vacation statistics definitely stood out. For example, U.S. workers received the least amount of vacation days (12 on average), were most likely to work over 40 hours a week (35 percent), and tied with Canada for giving back the most vacation days per person (3 days on average). This paints a very bleak picture that hopefully will inspire Americans to adopt the more healthy vacation habits demonstrated by the other countries included in the survey:

France wins for being the vacation champions, with each employed adult receiving an average of 39 days and with nearly half (45 percent) taking at least one 3-4 week vacation a year.

German workers are vacation lovers too, receiving an average of 27 vacation days, with 56 percent reporting that they always take all of their vacation days.

• Workers in the Netherlands receive an average of 25 vacation days each year, with the majority (62 percent) planning on taking at least one vacation lasting up to two full weeks.

• Adults employed in Great Britain may receive the least amount of vacation days in the European countries surveyed (23 days), but they definitely appreciate each and every vacation day…and then some, with 40 percent saying that they'd sacrifice a day's pay to get an extra day off.

• Employed Canadians receive an average of 20 days of vacation - easily beating out their neighbors to the South. And more than half (54 percent) use all of their vacation days.

So, when Americans do get around to vacationing, what do they do? According to the survey, it's all about the family: 31 percent say that they spend most of their vacation time traveling with their immediate family and 27 percent say that they visit out of town family and relatives. Plus, 38 percent anticipate using the majority of their vacation time for 2005 by taking one full week and then using the remaining days throughout the year.

Posted by Gus at 05:50 AM | Comments (0)

Florida visitors increase in Q1

According to the state's tourism marketing organization, tourism activity in Florida was impressively strong in the first quarter of 2005.

" From January through March 2005, Florida hosted 23.8 million visitors, an increase of 11.5 percent over the same period last year, or an increase of 2.5 million visitors."

Visit Florida says it tallied the visitor numbers from primary data at Florida's 14 major airports, which results in an estimate of visitors to the state by air. In addition, in order to estimate non-air visitation, Visit Florida subscribes to the Travel Industry Association's TravelScope data, which is used to develop the relative percentages of air and non-air visitors.

Posted by Gus at 04:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2005
Fontainebleau Las Vegas hotel

A newly formed property group, the Fontainebleau Resorts, announced today that they will build a $1.5 billion, 4,000 room jumbo-resort on the Las Vegas Strip and it will be named after the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami.

The Fontainebleau Vegas hotel will be built on the north end of the strip, tucked between an old water park and the Riviera hotel-casino.

The Vegas project will have a condo-hotle element, thanks to an alliance between Fontainebleau and Turnberry, which has sold more than $2 billion in condominium projects in Miami and Las Vegas in the last five years. Turnberry has been a leader of the high-rise condo-hotel craze in Las Vegas.

Former Mandalay Resort Group President Glenn Schaeffer has signed onto the Las Vegas-based company as chief executive and president.

The founder, Jeffrey Soffer is also a CEO for Turnberry Associates which just bought the Miami Fontainebleau in January.

The historic Miami Hotel will get a facelift. Plans are in development to turn the Miami hotel into a high-end contemporary resort featuring distinctive restaurants, swank clubs, live entertainment venues, a world-class spa and dramatic poolscaping.

Fontainebleau the company will eventually will go public, according to Schaeffer.

The project is scheduled to break ground next year and open in the second half of 2008.

Links: Las Vegas Sun, HotelChatter

Posted by Gus at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

$99 tickets from JFK to the Bahamas

JetBlue is currently offering a $99 one way special from JFK to Nassau, Bahamas special with remarkably few restrictions: Only a 7-day advance purchase required, tickets must be used during mid-week and no travel during the Memorial Day weekend.

Posted by Gus at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005
Marineland: Eco-tour, Flipper fantasy camp

The Orlando Sentinel has a story about Marineland's big plans. Once the pride of Florida's Marine Animal Attractions, the park has suffered for the last few decades. Finally, Hurricane Frances gave it the knock out punch. Or so it seems. Now new investors are hoping to transform the park into an eco-tourism destination, a sort of Flipper fantasy camp:

"The best way I can describe it is to say it will be Dolphin Quest meets a university research lab meets a high-end destination property."

"Visitors will be able to swim with its dolphins, snorkel in its oceanariums and make educational forays into rich surroundings that include oak hammocks, marshes, estuaries, rivers and the ocean."

"There are tentative plans, too, for a resort hotel in which guests will be treated like big fish in a plush pond. I'd like to see the circular oceanarium rebuilt surrounded by a very small luxury hotel, so the suites and upper-end rooms look right into the tanks, and you can see large animals swimming by," he said.

Now that's the sort of hotel I like.

But it's going to take vision and support from the public for this little park that is dreaming big. So if you happen to be near St. Augustine this summer, stop by and send Nellie some love.

Posted by Gus at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2005
iPod vending machines

iPod vending machines are coming soon to an airport near you.

"Apparently, when a customer inserts their credit card to acquire a music player on an impulse buy, a robot arm selects the device and drops it gently to the serving hatch."

Links: MacWorld, Pic

Posted by Gus at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

JetBlue tops airline ratings study

Once again, JetBlue was ranked as offering the best service in an annual survey that also found five of the top six airlines are low-fare carriers.

Posted by Gus at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2005
Hotels in Downtown Miami

If you're looking for a hotel in South Beach during Memorial Weekend, serious ballers need only apply. I just did a hotel search for availabitly in South Beach from May 27 - May 29, and the rates have gone through the roof. 2-star hotels are charging over over $300 a night.

Here's a tip: You can save hundreds of dollars that weekend if you stay in Downtown Miami. The chain hotels are nice, and they're just 5 miles from South Beach. Here is a list of hotels in Downtown:

Clarion Hotel & Suites
Conrad Miami Hotel
Miami Marriott Biscayne Bay
Riande Continental Bayside
Radisson Miami Downtown

Links: Hotel Search, Miami Downtown Hotels

Posted by Gus at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005
Airbus A380 superjumbo plane

National Geographic has photos of the Airbus A380 superjumbo plane.

"The Airbus A380 "superjumbo" is the largest civil aircraft ever built. Designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class arrangement, it has one-third more seating capacity than a Boeing 747. A planned stretched version would carry 656 passengers, and an all-economy-class configuration would be able to carry more than 800 passengers."

Check out the snazy onboard duty-free shop.

The new European-made plane has 49 percent more floor area but only 35 percent more seats.

Posted by Gus at 06:39 PM | Comments (0)

Inflatable travel pillow

Travel pillows are a must. I always kick myself when I forget to bring one on a trip.

The average travel pillow leaves much to be desired. Because of the fillers---usually styrofoam, microbeads, or buckwheat hulls---the pillows make strange crunchy noises everytime you move your head.

The good folks at Eagle Creek must have had these complaints in mind when they designed the inflatable Comfort Travel Pillow ($15). The pillow's self-sealing Air Flow valve allows you to inflate the pillow in three deep breaths, and because there's no filler material, strange crunchy noises have been eliminated.

Posted by Gus at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2005
Passport Update: Mo Money Mo Problems

If you're an American thinking of heading to the Caribbean next winter, keep in mind that under the new Homeland Security regulations you'll need a passport to re-enter the US on your return. Starting December 31 of this year, all travelers entering the US by air or sea from the Caribbean, Bermuda, Central America, and South America will need to show a passport. Likewise, a passport will be needed to enter the country from Canada and Mexico starting December 31 of 2006.

Other recent passport legislation includes the addition of a $12 surcharge on new applications and renewals. The surcharge will finance the department's high-tech upgrade of passports to include computer chips containing a scannable copy of the data page and photo.

The Department of State planned to introduce these new passports in late 2005 but that date has been pushed back due to continued research on the security of the proposed design.

The government had long maintained that the passport chips to be used could be read from only 10 cm away. But at least one test showed that a reader could read a passport chip from 30 feet away.

Because the government had decided not to encrypt data contained on passport chips, the chips exposed passport holders to privacy risks, such as skimming and eavesdropping.

Skimming occurs when an intruder with a reading device in the vicinity of the passport holder surreptitiously reads the electronic information on the chip without the passport holder knowing. Eavesdropping occurs when an intruder intercepts data as it's being transmitted from the chip to an authorized reader.

If you are applying for a passport or renewing your current one, be sure to use the most current forms, available on the department's website.

Sources: Wired, Fodor's

Posted by Gus at 08:06 AM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2005
Are cargo holds safe for pets?

The Department of Transportation estimates that more than 2 million animals fly each year in passenger cabins and cargo holds, but little is known about how they fare.

After years of mixed messages about the wisdom of shipping pets in the cargo hold of planes, pet owners will finally get a clear answer this summer, thanks to a new federal rule that requires airlines to report incidents of animal loss, injury or death.

Starting June 15, airlines must report such incidents to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which will make the data public through its monthly Air Travel Consumer Report, available online at:

It is estimated that 1% of animals (that fly) are lost, injured or killed.

The Humane Society discourages owners from bringing pets on planes unless absolutely necessary. They recommend going by car if traveling with pets (neither Amtrak nor Greyhound allows pets) or leaving pets at home with a pet sitter or at a boarding kennel.

Links: USATODAY, Pet Travel in the U.S.

Posted by Gus at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2005
Theme park prices then and now

1955: Disneyland opens: Admission $1; attraction tickets, 10-35 cents each.

1964: Universal Studios Hollywood back-lot tour opens: $2.50 adult, $1.50 children.

1970: Busch Gardens charges admission for first time, $1.25 adults.

1971: Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom opens: Admission $3.50, seven-ride attraction ticket book $4.75, 11 rides $5.75.

1973: SeaWorld Orlando opens: $4.50 adults, $2 children.

1981: WDW drops ticket books, goes to one-price park admission ($13).

1986: Disney World increases one-day, one-park ticket from $19.50 to $24.50.

1990: Universal Studios Orlando opens: $29 (equal to Disney).

1998: Tickets priced $42 per adult for one-day, one-park tickets at all major Orlando theme parks.

2005: One-day, one-park passes at major Central Florida parks: $59.75 adult, $48 under 10.

Florida resident deals offered, with one-day tickets from $53.75 for adults, $43.20 under 10. Combination tickets for multiple days, multiple parks and vacation packages offered at all parks. Busch Gardens Tampa tickets are a few dollars less expensive than the others, priced at $55.95 per adult, $45.95 for ages 3-9; Florida residents pay $49.95 and $40.95 respectively. Under 3 free at all parks. Cypress Gardens charges $34.95 for ages 10-54; $29.95 ages 3-9 and 55 and over.

Source: Miami Hearld (registration required)

Posted by Gus at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 28, 2005
Florida’s best hotels

Gridskipper reminds us of the importance of lists:

"Lists are AWESOME. Who cares what they’re for? If it’s got a number by it, I’m in. NYPost obliged this week with its list of the 50 best Florida hotels, and three Miami-area establishments make the list. Topping the chart is The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, is both Miami’s “oldest, largest and just plain grandest hotel” and a relative bargain; rooms start at $159 per night.

If your demands include clean lines and white everythings, Miami Beach’s Townhouse Hotel is the way to go. Coming in at number nine, the Townhouse features a rooftop terrace that’s worth the price of the room (which start at only $115 a night)

Top ten after the jump:

1. The Biltmore, Coral Gables

2. Fisher Island Hotel & Resort, Fisher Island

3. The Breakers, Palm Beach

4. Sundy House, Delray Beach

5. Little Palm Island, Little Torch Key

6. The Setai, Miami Beach

7. Cheeca Lodge, Islamorada

8. Boca Raton Resort & Club, Boca Raton

9. The Townhouse, Miami Beach

10. Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Key Biscayne

hoteling like JLo on a budget (Gridskipper)
Florida’s 50 Best Hotels and Resorts (NYPost)

Posted by Gus at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

Best day to buy air tickets

Fodor's has a good tip about buying airline tickets. It seem that there really is a best day of the week to find the best deal - Wednesday at 1am.

In the airline business, fare wars are started by the weakest competitors, and the big guys tend to be the ones to raise fares. And all of that tends to happen on Fridays.

So how did Wednesday become the ideal day to strike a deal?

Let's say Airline A decides to raise fares. It usually does so at a late hour on a Friday night.

By Saturday, Airline A's major competitors will probably match that fare increase. Warning: Book your tickets over a weekend, and you might spend a whole lot more than you should.

But what if the major competitors DON'T match the higher fares? Then the instigator of the fare increase drops back down late on Sunday night or on Monday morning. If you already paid a higher fare, you still may be out of luck. Why? Because although you might still qualify for a lower fare and a ticket exchange, that terrible $75 change fee might wipe out your savings!

Here's another example. Let's say upstart Airline B decides to begin a fare war. Again, it happens late on a Friday night. Usually, some (but not all) of the majors will match that fare on routes where they compete with Airline B. Does that mean you should still book tickets over the weekend? Absolutely not. Remember, I said some, but NOT ALL of the majors will match that fare. By late Monday, depending on how that new fare is doing in the marketplace, Airline C might jump into the battle and offer an even LOWER fare, so look for all the other airlines to rush to match THAT one -- usually, by Tuesday -- and the war is on. Prices might go even lower on Wednesday. And that's when you strike. Wait any longer than Wednesday, and you may be in trouble. The wars usually end by Thursday morning.

Why? Friday is just around the corner! And the cycle starts all over again.

What's the best time to buy your ticket on Wednesday? One hour after Tuesday midnight (1:00 AM Wednesday morning). Why? At about midnight, the airlines usually reload their computers with the latest low-cost fares that were announced the previous day but will be canceled if they are not purchased within twenty-four hours."

Source: Fodor's Travel Wire

Posted by Gus at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2005
Hooters Air

SmarterTravel just informed me Hooters Air is expanding their service to the West Coast.

"This is a big year for Hooters. Hooters first Hotel and Casino will open is Las Vegas in early 2006 and Hooters Air will be there."

Honestly, I've never heard of Hooters Air, but it sounds like fun.

They claim the advantages to flying with their carrier include:

• One-Way Fares
• Extra leg room
• Real food
• A great experience that enlivens the senses
• Plus two Hooters Girls on every flight

I wonder if they serve chicken wings?

Posted by Gus at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 26, 2005
Hotels with internet access

Miami Beach Hotels are adding free Wi-Fi high speed internet access as an amenity for their guests.

Many local hotels offer free Wi-Fi in guest rooms as well as public areas like lobbies, meeting rooms, restaurants, and poolside. Other hotels may charge a fee, ranging from $10 to $15 per day. Check with the hotels for their policies.

Below is a list of hotels in Miami Beach that provide high speed internet access for hotel guests:

Casa Grande
Eden Roc
Ocean Five
Park Central
Ritz Carlton
RIU Floirda
Royal Palm
Shore Club
St. Augustine
The Hotel

You'll need to be a hotel guest to access the free internet access in the guest rooms, but the Wi-Fi in public areas may be available to non-guests. ;-)

Posted by Gus at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

April 24, 2005
Hotel burglar arrested

Earlier this week, we got wind there was a burglar breaking into hotels on Miami Beach. A user from Indianapolis, IN contacted us about an incident at the Haddon Hall.

I am happy to say the Miami Beach Police have arrested a suspect.

Daniel Cordero, 44, was arrested Tuesday after an officer spotted him in the alley behind an Ocean Drive hotel.

After his arrest, police say Cordero confessed to burglaries at hotels such as the Chesterfield, the Blue Moon, the Crescent and the Fairway.

The burglar generally got into the rooms by going to the rear of hotels and either finding an open window or forcing one open.

Our user from Indianapolis says...

"on 4/17/05 our 3 rooms (along with at least 2 others) were broken into. The cause was faulty locks on the windows, of which the hotel knew about. The alleyway between the hotel and the building had no security whatsoever, not even a light. We also came to find that the exact same incident happened exactly one week prior, in the exact same rooms."

Police say...

"He stole thousands in money and property from the rooms, including laptop computers, jewelry, and cameras. He is a suspect in at least 15 other hotel burglaries."

It looks like the police got their man.

I see on their website, each month is dedicated to a specific area of local crime prevention. How about we dedicate May "Travel Safety Prevention Month"?

Source: User review | Miami Hearld (registration required)

Posted by Gus at 09:13 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises

The MSNBC Savings Sleuth points out that if you can set sail on May 20, Windjammer Barefoot Cruises is offering a 25% discount on cruises to the Bahamas.

"Spend from four to eight days on the S.V. Legacy from Miami to the Bahamas and receive a 25 percent discount off of rates that start from $450 for four days (Miami to Nassau), $600 five days (Nassau to Miami) and $900 eight days (Miami roundtrip) in a standard cabin."

Here’s a sample of the cost for one-way flights between Miami and/or Nassau and major U.S. gateways if booked through Windjammers:

• $85 (Nassau) - Miami
• $90 (Miami)/$230 (Nassau) – Atlanta
• $140 (Miami)/$260 (Nassau) – Chicago
• $155 (Miami)/$230 (Nassau) – Newark/New York
• $220 (Miami)/$299 (Nassau) – Los Angeles"

The rates are per person and include on-board meals and certain beverages. Count on paying extra for port fees, airfares and transfers.

This averages to be about $125 per day (not including your airfare).

I guess it's an ok deal if you totally pig out on the food.

Sadly, I've never taken a cruise.

Does this sound like a good deal to you? And what's a port fee?

Source: MSNBC

Posted by Gus at 11:53 AM | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005
Little Palm Island

MSNBC is running a story about the World's Most Expensive Hotels.

Little Palm Island in the Flroda Keys comes in at #10 for a rate of $1,145 per coulple per night. The nightly rate doesn't include meals or activities. The 28 bungalow suites each have whirlpool baths and private outdoor bamboo showers. Phones, alarm clocks and televisions are forbidden in the bungalows.

Thankfully, the Hotel makes a concession to internet-addicts with a 56k modem link for guests. Geez, for $1,145 per night the least they could do is offer up some DSL.

Posted by Gus at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005
Crazy airline passanger news

If reality television can have car chases, then a Miami travel site can have crazy airline passenger news.

Posted by Gus at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Airline pricing goofs

This week, a glitch at US Airways sold round-trip tickets for $1.86 to anywhere in the United States until problem got fixed.

Elsewhere, a Travelocity error allowed a number of people to buy tickets to Fiji for $0.

Travelocity called each person who purchased the $0 ticket and said they would happily honor the ticket, or pay the passenger $250 not to use it.

Posted by Gus at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)

April 18, 2005
Miami hotel discounts expire April 28th

Colony Hotel from $122 per night.
The most photographed Art Deco Hotels on Ocean Drive.

Days Inn from $122 per night.
A pet friendly hotel with direct access to the beach.

South Seas from $122 per night.
Free breakfast, local calls, and wireless Internet access.

Posted by Gus at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

Fly to Florida for under $30

Independence Air's latest fare sale may be among the cheapest flying ever offered. The discount carrier is offering some one-way fares for under $30.

The discounts include one-way fares from Dulles International Airport to Tampa, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers for $29 if you fly on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Independence Air is also offering fares to Orlando for $39, to Los Angeles and Seattle for $69 and one-way tickets to Las Vegas for $89.

US Airways also put Florida flights from the Washington market on sale Monday. Its discounts include Baltimore/Washington International Airport to Orlando for $49 each way and one-way fares from Washington to Fort Lauderdale for $59. Its deepest discounts are for travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Posted by Gus at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

April 15, 2005
Earn double AA miles at Loews Hotel

Earn double AAdvantage miles when you stay at Loews Hotel through May 31.

Posted by Gus at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2005
Airports ban lighters

Today, airports across the U.S. will begin banning lighters from all commercial flights.

Update: Transportation Security Administration screeners collected over 700 cigarette lighters from passengers going through checkpoints at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport by midafternoon on Thursday — the first day lighters were banned from commercial airliners.

Posted by Gus at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 13, 2005
United's 4-day sale expires April 17th

United Airlines 4-day sale to Florida is a great excuse to visit Miami Beach.

The sale includes cross-country flights starting at just $79 (one-way only) from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Seattle to Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and Fort Myers.

Travel must take place between April 15 and May 25. Bargain-priced fares out of Washington D.C. are also available starting at $49 one way. The sale ends April 17.

Posted by Gus at 06:48 PM | Comments (0)

Bed bugs bite back

The backlash begins - Cruise Network will maintain its “no sale” policy for all future Jewel of the Seas sailings until Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines chooses to make public a more satisfactory explanation regarding their recent bug bed incident.

A Florida couple is at home now after their cruise vacation aboard Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas was cut short by a severe infestation of bed bugs in their stateroom.

Royal Caribbean has apologized to the couple and refunded $2,800 for the tickets, but declined to reimburse them for medical care or hotel expenses incurred while waiting to get home. You got to be kidding!

Here's a customer service tip for all the Royal Caribbean brass, read "The Kryptonite Factor" before it's too late.

Posted by Gus at 09:12 AM | Comments (0)

National Leisure Travel Monitor Results

Recently, i spoke about tooting your own horn. Well, according to, Florida is the most popular state in the U.S. adults say they would like to visit most. Toot, toot ;-)

Posted by Gus at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2005
Fly nude from Miami to Cancun

If you thought that Sir Richard Branson completing the fastest, non-stop flight around the world was newsworthy, aviation history is about to be made again - Castaway Travel will offer the first-ever nude flight from Miami to Cancun aboard Naked Air.

Posted by Gus at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

Craig's Travel Tip

Craig from craigslist and craigblog offers a good travel tip if you happen to get bumped from your flight:

"Well, let's say United has more problems, and they cancel your flight. Normally, they'll place you on the next one they have, not telling you another carrier has one that's leaving much earlier. While you wait in line, call the carrier, ask not only what's available from them, but also, what's available on other carriers. Life's much easier that way."

Thanks for the tip, Craig. Your Miami site is a great resource; we found our house and coffee table there.

Posted by Gus at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

Delays at Lauderdale Airport

The Sun Sentinel reports Lauderdale airport tops flight-delay list.

Fort Lauderdale International Airport had to delay more than 5,700 commercial and private flights between October and March because the airport lacked the capacity to handle them.

"Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was so overwhelmed by the number of planes flying in and out this winter that it had almost as many delays unrelated to the weather as the nation's two busiest airports combined -- Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield."

I frequently fly Delta Airlines in and out out of Ft. Lauderdale Airport, and have never experienced a delay. As a matter of fact, on the return flights, I usually arrive early. Go figure.

Posted by Gus at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

April 11, 2005
World Airport Awards 2005

The World Airport Awards for 2005 have been announced.

1. Hong Kong International Airport
2. Singapore Changi Airport
3. Seoul Incheon Airport
4. Munich Airport
5. Kansai International Airport
6. Dubai International Airport
7. KLIA - Kuala Lumpur Airport
8. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
9. Copenhagen Airport
10. Sydney Airport

Skytrax surveyed over 5 million people of 90 nationalities and ranked product and service factors based on their responses.

You can also view the top three ranked airports for each region.

Posted by Gus at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

April 08, 2005
Business travel expenses

If you are an employee or a sole proprietor who has business-related travel, entertainment, gift, or transportation expenses, you should consult, particularly Publication 463 on Travel.

I learned that self-employed consultants, independent salespeople, small-business owners, and freelancers can regularly write off expenses on business trips. As long as business is the primary reason for travel, your airfare, lodging, meals, car rental, taxis, and even tips and laundry can all be deducted.

The IRS says “ordinary and necessary” expenses for business are 100 percent deductible. This includes:

- transportation
- lodging
- incidentals, such as Internet, phone, and laundry

Half of the costs of meals you incur because of work are deductible. You can eiter total up your receipts or use the government-approved allowance, which varies from city to city (from $31 to $46 a day).

If you’re driving your own car, the standard reimbursement is 37.5¢ per mile for 2004, upped to 40.5¢ for the 2005 tax year.

But don’t expect the IRS to take your word that the motive for that weekend in South Beach was for business. If you get audited, you’ll need receipts and meeting records to back you up.

Posted by Gus at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

Toot your own horn

There is a travel article at MSNBC offering 5 tips for getting the star treatment - Sure-fire strategies to reap first-class rewards. My favorite tip is, Toot your horn.

"Are you celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, or graduation? Let your travel agent know. A good travel planner will have the connections to make your experience more memorable. All of the travel suppliers want happy clients and will go out of their way for you if they can."

This tip comes in very handy when making restaurant reservations. Any restaurant worth it's salt should take special requests very seriously.

I also had an airline stewerdess once tell me - if you're on your honeymoon, make sure to let the ticket agent know when you check in for your flight. If the flight has room, sometimes they'll bump you up to first class.

Posted by Gus at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

Rental car companies tough on damage

The NY Times reports that rental car companies are getting tough about damages...

"Car rental companies are getting much more aggressive about their claims," said Jeff Miller, a travel lawyer in Columbia, MD. Chasing down customers who scratch or dent cars, he said, "is a growth business."

In the past, car rental companies were willing to overlook minor damage to their vehicles, but the industry now appears bent on pursuing even the smallest cases.

Posted by Gus at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

Passport policy changes

For those of us visiting Canada, Mexico, Panama, and Bermuda, starting in 2008 the State Department will require us to have passports.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative will require all U.S. citizens, Canadians, citizens of the British Overseas Territory of Bermuda, and citizens of Mexico to have a passport or other accepted secure document to enter or re-enter the U.S.

Posted by Gus at 09:45 AM | Comments (0)

Ocean Blue

Christabel, a graduated student from Toronto Canada, has a lot to say about her Florida vacation on her blog, Ocean Blue.

She visited Miami...

What a city. So cool. I think I took like 245 pictures in the day. To save you reading about ALL of those things that I did I'll pick the top three and describe them to you otherwise you'd be reading an entire book.

And the Bahamas...

Tonight is the night! It is the last night of mine in the Bahamas. The moon is almost full and is creating a silver pathway on the water. It is beautiful. The plan is to be "on the road" tomorrow morning at 8am. So I'm going to get up early for one last swim.

Christabel also took some nice pictures of all the places she visited. My favorite photo is the Venetian Pool.

I recommend checking out Ocean Blue. You'll enjoy reading about Christabel's experience.

Posted by Gus at 07:30 AM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2005
Miami airport adds explosives detector

Security is getting more sophisticated at Miami International Airport. A phone-booth-size machine that blows air at passengers to check for explosives will start operating on Wednesday at Concourse E, one of MIA's busiest checkpoints.

Called an explosives detection trace portal, the contraption releases two quick puffs through 32 jets, aimed from ankles to neck -- enough of a breeze to tousle clothing and loosen particles of any explosives that might be present.

Aimee Ahiers, spokeswoman for General Electric, which manufactures the $135,000 EntryScan3 detection machine, says...

“the process takes about 12 seconds. When a passenger is instructed to stand in the machine, it will instruct in a computer voice, ‘please enter,’ which is followed by ‘air puffers on’ and ‘please exit’.”

In the next year, the TSA plans to install 150 machines at busy commercial airports across the nation.

Posted by Gus at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

Airline service worsens, but costs increase

As airline service worsens, the big five airlines are again raising their domestic fares, this time by $10 per round trip.

The increases were announced on Thursday by United, Delta, Continental, Northwest, and America West. Discount carriers, Southwest and JetBlue did not match the hikes.

For the second year in a row, low-fare airline JetBlue Airways earned the number one ranking in the annual (AOR) Airline Quality Ratings study.

Posted by Gus at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2005
Business Travelers Prefer Booking Online

According to emarketer, Business travelers are keeping online travels sites busy and booking online.

"In 2003, 57% said they preferred to book online. Two years later, the figure has risen to 71%. Meanwhile, those who prefer using a travel agent, either on the phone or in person, has fallen from 39% to 24%."

Hey, all you Business travelers out there, you can book hotels in Miami Beach at Miami Beach 411, or call us at 1-800-573-6351.

Posted by Gus at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Dry Tortugas: A Special Place

Following on the heals of our Cuban Refugees Land at Fort Jefferson post, today, there's a travel article at the New York Times about campaing in the Dry Tortugas.

We both agree that it's a special place.

Posted by Gus at 08:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 31, 2005
VIP for the KID

There's a travel article at MSNBC talking about how kids are getting VIP treatment at South Florida's 5-Star Hotels. The article addresses how hotels are trying to anticipate the wants and needs of young people. Michelle Payer, a Ritz-Carlton hotel spokeswoman says,

"kids are important to the Ritz. As the growth of family travel to luxury hotels continues to increase, we’ve expanded our signature service to deliver a special experience that even the kids will remember long after the vacation is over.”

When I was around 7-years old, my parrents took me on a vacation to Las Vegas. One night, they dropped me off at this kiddie casino - and it wasn't Circus Circus. It was like a 1970's version of a 24-hour Vegas day care center. The place was a awesome! They had movies, and games, and even saloon serving milkshakes.

30-years later, I can still remember so much detail about the event.

Go for it Ritz-Carlton, and all of you other 5-Star Hotels. It works.

Posted by Gus at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

March 30, 2005
Links of the Weird

Something strange is happening in the travelsphere, as there are a bunch of really weird stories to share:

--An Air-India pilot slapped his co-pilot in the cockpit, while the aircraft was taxiing on the Dubai runway. The pilot was upset with the co-pilot, and lost his temper. The flight was delayed for three hours, till another pilot could arrive

--A Midwest Airlines employee was loading baggage into the cargo hold of a plane and somehow got locked in there as the flight took off for Philadelphia.

--A drunk passenger punched a Qantas pilot while the plane was still on the runway, after the pilot asked the man to settle down. The hostile passenger was dragged kicking and screaming from the plane.

--The British Airline Pilots' Association is complaining that polluted cabin air is making pilots sick. So, on your next flight if you smell something funny (besides your neighboring passenger) consider telling an attendant.

--As of April 14th, air travelers in the United States can no longer carry lighters on planes or in secure areas, but matches are still allowed.

--And finally... A Cubana IL-18 (that's a Russian commercial airliner) slid off the runway in Caracas yesterday, injuring 13 during the aborted takeoff. My question is, if an old Russian plane skids of a Venezuelan runway, does anyone show up to investigate?

If you've seen some strange behavior, please feel free to post a comment.

Posted by Gus at 08:03 AM | Comments (0)

March 29, 2005
Sailing Florida's Gulf Coast

MSNBC has published their "10 greatest U.S. adventure vacations". Adventure Sailing along Florida's Gulf Coast makes the list.

"Sail aboard 26-foot Commodores through the small islands off Fort Myers for seven days and nights in flotillas of up to six boats at a time. The crafts are designed for four adults, and qualified sailors can captain their own craft"

Posted by Gus at 07:33 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2005
Frenquent Flyer Specials

Our friends Michael and Lisa are getting married in Argentina, this September. Michelle and I are trying to rack up our Delta SkyMiles for a free trip. Here are two frequent flyer specials that I came across:

Delta Airlines
Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders can earn double miles on all purchases between March 15 and April 15. You must register your card in order to earn miles. For more information or to register, visit American Express' website.

United Airlines College Plus Program
It being Sping Break, college students should know about United Airlines College Plus Program. Students who travel during academic breaks can not only earn miles toward a free trip, they can receive 10,000 miles for free upon graduation. For more details, go to United's College Plus site.

Posted by Gus at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 27, 2005
Happy Easter!

For you chocolate lovers out there, I came across a press release at PR Web about a new city guide to Hershey, Pennsylvania, I was excited to visit the site, but sadly disappointed.

If you want to see some chocolate, visit Hershey’s site.

Happy Easter!

Posted by Gus at 07:20 PM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2005
Kayaking in the Everglades

Last week, my friend Pancho (more about Pancho later) was asking me about kayak trips. By accident, I found a good article at WetDawg (the adventure water sports site) about an overnight kayak trip in the Florida Everglades. The article chronicles a 3-day canoe trip from Flamingo to Everglades City.

"Florida Bay was as smooth as glass. Cape Sable lay off to our right. On shore began a stretch of more than 20 miles of uninterrupted natural beach, by far the largest preserved stretch of ocean front property in the mainland Southeast."

You can read the 3-page article, see photos and find links to maps and outfitters on WetDawg's site.

To find more info about the Florida Everglades call 305-242-7700 and ask for a Wilderness Trip Planner.

Posted by Gus at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)
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