On a recent trip to Tucson, I was amazed to learn that the Sonoran Desert, which laps at the city’s doorstep, is second only to the Amazon for its diversity of plants and animals. Who knew? I was also excited to discover the iconic Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa—which underwent $35 million in renovations to its guestrooms, public spaces, and pools in 2013—has partnered with Tucson’s excellent Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to inspire and educate guests, and bring the incredible surroundings to light.
Looking ahead to the holiday weekend? Here, three ideas for fun and affordable July 4thgetaways.
The birthplace of independence is the perfect place to celebrate the Fourth of July. Benjamin Franklin Parkway hosts the “Largest Free Concert” with The Roots, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, and Jennifer Hudson. Stay at the Four Seasons Hotel off Logan Square, where kids are welcomed with toys, and cookies and milk are served at bedtime. Price: $249 a night. Book Now: fourseasons.com/philadelphia
2. Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff was voted the Best Town for July 4th in the Travel + Leisure America’s Favorite Towns survey (voting is open now for T+L’s 2014 America’s Favorite Places survey!). With its ponderosa pines, frontier spirit, and cool mountain air, it’s no surprise why. The city has great town square that’s the centerpiece of its celebration, which includes for fireworks, parades, and a fun run. Stay at the Hotel Monte Vista, just a block from Route 66. Price: $90 a night. Book Now: hotelmontevista.com
3. Oahu, Hawaii
The fireworks on the southern shore of Oahu are so grand that around 50,000 people watch it each year! (They’re set off from a manmade peninsula to protect the underwater reef ecosystem.) At the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, most rooms have private balconies and overlook the ocean; the five pools include the 10,000-square-foot Super Pool, the largest in Hawaii. Price: $199 a night. Book Now: hiltonhawaiianvillage.com
Watch T+L editor Sarah Spagnolo present these deals on this morning's Wake Up with Al.
Photo courtesy of Boulder Daily Camera
Now is the time to purchase next year's ski passes, with early bird specials promising hundreds of dollars in savings.
With Vail Resorts' Epic Pass, holders gain unlimited access to the company's major U.S. resorts (Vail, Breckenridge and Northstar), and for the first time ever, five days at Japan's sprawling Niseko United. At $739, and $379 for children, it makes up its value if users spend more than a week on the slopes during the year.
It's official: Every state in the continental US—minus Florida—has snowfall. And with a long weekend coming up, it's the perfect opportunity to head to the hills for some skiing. Sites like Liftopia, Snow.com, and GetSkiTickets.com are offering last minute deals all over the country. Our favorite savings? Liftopia's $14 ski pass for New Hampshire's Ragged Mountain tomorrow—that's a 79% discount. They're selling out fast though, so act fast!
Tired of the snow? Here are some tips to book a last-minute beach vacation.
Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team.
Photo credit: Cultura Creative/ YAY Media AS
Art & Culture
Chicago: 30% off historical blues package
Windy City Blues package includes:
• 2 nights' accommodations in a standard room at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro, with mod-retro rooms in the theater district
• 2 tickets to Buddy Guy’s Legends blues club, owned by the iconic artist himself
• Admission to Chicago’s History Museum to see the “Crossroads of America” exhibit on the history behind America’s Blues Capital
Cost: $270 ($135 per night)
Book via telephone only for travel between February 1 and March 31.
For more information, please visit Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro; to book, please call (800) 643-1500 and use booking code BLUE14.
A new website called Trip Rebel—currently in beta—is aiming to be the next Tingo. The concept is simple: You book your hotel stay through the Germany- and Austria-based site, which currently lists more than 200,000 properties around the world. It then tracks your reservation for price reductions every day until you check in. If the price drops, you’ll be automatically re-booked at the new rate, and the difference is refunded to your credit card.
There’s no limit to how much you can receive, and you can adjust your “money back level”—or the amount at which you would want to get a refund (it defaults at 1 euro). When booking, you can filter by type, room features, TripAdvisor rating, and amenities (including the puzzling “accessible path of travel” and “accessible bathroom”).
Beginning today until January 17, first-time Airbnb users will receive up to $300 off one night’s stay at any location across the globe. If you’re like me and have all of your 2014 travel resolutions planned out, the discount deal is the perfect excuse to start booking. You’ll have to travel by March 31 (a date far enough away to plan, close enough to spark excitement) for at least two days, which seems easy enough to swing since the rental site lists about 500,000 properties worldwide.
Early booking specials and last-minute deals are ubiquitous in the travel industry, so we at T+L are always fascinated when someone gets creative with their pricing.
A collection of hotels in Switzerland have done just that with their "Pay What You Want" two-night stay offer before the holidays. Guests pay the normal rate for the first night, and then decide what they'd like to pay for their second night based on the service they receive. And given that each of the 18 participating hotels were voted some of Switzerland's Most Welcoming Hotels in 2013, it's likely their award-winning service will have guests paying full price or more for their second night stays.
Learn more at Switzerland Tourism's website.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.
Photo credit: Martin Ruetschi/Keystone/Corbis
Fiery red, amber orange, golden yellow—these autumn colors are trademarks of the season, and the perfect excuse to plan a weekend getaway along New England's coast.
Maine’s striking foliage is still in its prime, and just an easy drive from Boston. Pack up the car and course along one of America’s best fall color drives to get there, or opt for a train ride to take in the hues. (Amtrak's Downeaster service departs five times daily from Boston to Portland.) Once you arrive, the fall viewing opportunities take to the sky, literally. Step onto a private plane with The Inn at Brunswick Station, whose “Fall Foliage Flyover” package offers for an hour-long aerial tour of Maine’s coastline. Or, take the Maine Eastern Railroad further north. Passengers will get an eyeful of colorful views on the 57-mile trip along state's scenic Mid-Coast, from Brunswick to Rockland.
Next trip to add to your bucket list for 2014? An adventure to one of Australia’s top destinations.
Tourism Australia and Air New Zealand are offering vistors special fares for an Australian voyage when they visit Go Mighty’s #GoAustralia site.
Register for a “seat” on an Air New Zealand plane and once 332 people register (the number it takes to fill a Boeing 777-300 aircraft), a special discount will be triggered so that each participant will receive a unique coupon code.