Ever walked around a luxury hotel or resort, admired the pool area, and wished you were a guest? Resorts are increasingly picking up some incremental revenue by allowing non-guests to use pools for a fee.
I recently was impressed by the grounds of the swanky Arizona Biltmore in Scottsdale, where the landscaping and pool (pictured) are most inviting. Non-guests can rent a cabana for the day. Fees vary depend on the season and day—you might pay as much as $300, but your fee can be put toward your meals and drinks.
In Vegas, the pool scene is varsity, and the party goes night and day. Models as waitstaff, expensive sound systems, and swim-up gambling are some of the perks. At the Aria, it’s $10 for women, $20 for men. At the Hard Rock, non-guests are welcome during weekdays–$20 for women, $40 for men. Caesar’s charges non-guests $20 Friday through Sunday. Rent a cabana at the very posh Mandarin Oriental, and you’re in even if you’re not a guest. The Palms, MGM Grand, and the Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan (whose great ad slogan is “Just the right amount of wrong”) also invite non-guests.
Just check with your favorite property.
A 65-year-old traveler taking a one-week, $2,000 cruise to the Caribbean can pay as little as $90 or as much as $375 to buy travel insurance before a trip. That’s a 400% difference, meaning it pays to comparison shop.
That stat is courtesy of John Cook of QuoteWright.com, a web site that offers comparisons of travel insurance offerings from major companies. You type in what kind of coverage you want, and QuoteWright will point you to as many as 90 appropriate plans.
But here’s where it gets tricky. Travel insurance companies have a lot of flavors of offerings. Some exclude situations that might be important to you. Some might include medical evacuation to the nearest hospital while others will fly you to the hospital of your choice. Some lists of “perils” include eventualities others might not.
With big spreads in the cost of policies, shop carefully. And be sure to buy soon after you book your travel. Some companies won’t cover you if you wait to buy until just before your departure.
As cold weather gives way to warm, rental car companies have a problem. They have too many cars in places like Florida and Arizona where high season is over. And they’ll give you a great deal if you’ll help them get lots of those vehicles back to where the demand is.
It’s the semi-annual migration of rental cars. Until the end of this month, you can get a deal when you rent a car one way from, say, Florida, to the Northeast. Alamo, Avis, Budget, and National will only charge $10 a day for cars, about $20 for SUVs and maybe $25 for minivans. And you can keep a car for 7, 14, and sometimes 21 days so you don’t have to rush to turn it in.
Arizona rental offices need their cars moved to California and other places. The same deals apply.
Many airlines now allow you to get a one-way, award flight by cashing in half the number of miles you’d need for a round trip. So fly in, grab a car, and enjoy a leisurely drive somewhere without putting any wear or tear on the family car. Or wait until this fall when rental companies will make the same offer to get cars back to vacation spots.
In yesterday’s “Travel Minute” I mentioned a number of airports around the world whose managers have made a serious effort to bring in recognized chefs to operate serious restaurants.
Like “Top Chef” winner Michael Voltaggio. He has a branch of his gourmet sandwich bar at the Los Angeles’ Airport. Global celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal runs Perfectionist Café at London’s Heathrow airport in Terminal 2. And you’ll find dry-aged steaks at LaGuardia’s Delta terminal at Prime Tavern.
But it’s not all celebrity chefs. At my hometown airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sudryk’s–a local wine store with a side deli—has a cozy eatery in the airport’s main terminal where you can grab a terrific Vietnamese-style banh mi sandwich with chicken to take on your trip. Or you can be seated for a great, freshly made salad and a nice bottle of wine from their retail selection that lines one wall.
So shop around before you settle for a fast-food offering on your next trip.
It’s taken way too long, but airports have finally figured out that people who fly often like to eat something other than an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or a Subway sandwich. Some airports are seriously upgrading their food offerings, and even airport shops that sell newspapers and gum are adding fresh fruit to their shelves.
The Airbräu Brauhaus at Munich’s airport is Europe’s only restaurant with an on-site brewery. At Altitude restaurant at Geneva’s airport, there’s actually a Michelin-starred restaurant called Dupont & Byrne—don’t miss the ravioli stuffed with foie gras and morel mushrooms. Television chef and restaurateur Cat Cora has eateries serving organic, seasonal California cuisine at three US airports: San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Houston.
Tomorrow I’ll mention a few more airport dining options. I actually go early to my hometown airport—Minneapolis-St. Paul— so I can dine before flying on the new, locally inspired restaurants on Concourse G (pictured).