TIPS ON MAKING HOTEL RESERVATIONS:
When traveling for business or fun, there’s nothing worse than thinking you have a reservation and learning your hotel reservations been lost, your room has one bed and not two bedrooms, or you thought your check-in time was noon, only to find out it is really 3:00pm. To help avoid these things from happening, there are a few helpful hotel reservation tips seasoned travelers recommend:
Always use a credit card when making a hotel reservation. A credit cards offers the guest some level of protection should the hotel stay go awry. Any disputes a guest may have with the hotel, or with the billing can more easily be rectified through the credit card company. The card company will act as a mediator once their client can show effort to resolve the dispute. Additionally, if a dispute cannot be resolved, the credit card company has the authority to remove the charge from a client’s bill. If cash were paid, a hotel guest would have no recourse. Note: If you don’t use your own credit card to secure a reservation, be aware that the person whose name is on the card will be responsible for showing the card and signing at check in. If the card does not belong to the person staying at the hotel, notify the desk before leaving home (prior to arrival) and ask what their identification procedure is. They may accept a letter from the credit card holder authorizing use, and a copy of both the front and back of the card.
Ask for deals/discounts at each hotel. Many hotels offer corporate, AAA, senior, or even mid-week/off-season discounts. If one is not offered - ask about them. Many hotels now offer ‘rewards’ programs and some hotels reduce rates by $50 or more, for simply signing up for their program. If making reservations online, look for internet-only rates and shop various websites to find the best deals. Travel agents can often secure unadvertised specials or late check-in opportunities which can translate into huge savings.
When making reservations speak clearly and repeat spelling of all names. There have been many reservations lost because of inaccurate spelling and guests have been told they did not have rooms when a hotel or an entire city was booked to capacity. If any special requests are made, verify them and if possible get them in writing. Also make sure to get the name of the employee. Verify everything spell names and verify information/requests etc. Double check reservations prior to leaving for hotel and make sure names of all hotel employees you’ve spoken to are taken.
When reservations are made, changed and cancelled-confirmation numbers are given. Make sure all numbers are kept in a safe place until credit cards are billed and all charges are verified. Cancellation and confirmation numbers are often the difference between being charged for a hotel reservation that was cancelled, the possibility of a free upgrade when the hotel overbooks and you can prove when your reservation was made, and being stranded away from home without a room for the night.
Discuss hotel policies prior to making reservations, and verify them at check-in. Some hotels require credit cards at check in for any hotel charges, such as telephone usage, room service, meals in the hotel, or even take -out arranged through the hotel with area restaurants, etc. If a credit card is not available, a cash/check deposit maybe required for any services/fees that may accrue during the hotel stay. Determine when check-in/check-out times are, when cancellation policies go into affect and verify occupancy limits if staying in a room with multiple occupants.
Remember these hotel reservation tips when scheduling your travel plans. Whether by internet, through a travel agent, or by telephone, it pays to research the hotel and be meticulous when making arrangements. A little pre-planning when making reservations can save major headaches when traveling away from home.
DID YOU KNOW:
FINDING THE BEST HOTEL RATES:
Due to the internet, the manners in which hotel rooms are procured have drastically changed over the last couple of decades. Prior to internet access, guests called hotels directly to book rooms. While some guests continue to book rooms this way, many have learned that calling a hotel directly may not be the most economical choice. However, it is also been found that hotel rates also vary a great deal from website to website, especially discount travel sites.
Hotels are in constant competition with each other for your business. The goal of every hotel is to achieve 100% occupancy. Not only are they competing with each other, they are often competing with themselves. Look at how many hotels have various hotel chain subsidiaries beneath them. They must stay competitive, but still continue to make a profit while keeping their rooms occupied. This said, many hotels offer blocks of rooms to a variety of other entities to sell. Travel agents and online brokers typically compete to sell rooms for hotels, and they receive a percentage of the purchase price. The rate disparity comes into play two ways. First, the hotel is offering rooms at their standard rates or discount club rates. Second, because hotels offer these agents and booking websites various rates, someone who is getting a larger percentage of the sale price, can afford to offer the room at a lower rate than someone who is getting a small percentage from the sale.
Finding the best room rate:
If contacting the hotel directly, ask if they have any current specials. If your travel plans are flexible, inquire about any future specials, and the specific parameters of those specials.
If you’re a ‘select’, ‘rewards’ or hotel ‘member’, mention this, and ask if they have any special discounts available for members of their programs. Additionally, if you are affiliated with a corporate account, or a roadside assistance plan which offers travel benefits, mention that too. Sometimes guests are eligible for more than one discount and can pick and choose the one that provides the greatest savings.
When placing reservations online through a hotel booking service, first find the service that offers the best deal. The best deal may not be the one which provides the lowest price, but the service with the best room guarantee, who is willing to price match. If you’ve found the room for a lower rate elsewhere, tell your preferred vendor and ask them to match the price. Several websites will even provide a 30-day guarantee against lower prices - so even after booking your reservation, stay vigilant.
Hotel rates vary so much because there are numerous entities vying to secure your business by competing with each other. With a little investigative prowess, you can secure the best rates possible for your hotel stay, despite the varying rates.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SHOP FOR A MORTGAGE?
Obtain Information from Several Lenders
Home loans are available from several types of lenders - thrift institutions, commercial banks, mortgage companies, and credit unions. Different lenders may quote you different prices, so you should contact several lenders to make sure you’re getting the best price. You can also get a home loan through a mortgage broker. Brokers arrange transactions rather than lending money directly; in other words, they find a lender for you. A broker’s access to several lenders can mean a wider selection of loan products and terms from which you can choose. Brokers will generally contact several lenders regarding your application, but they are not obligated to find the best deal for you unless they have contracted with you to act as your agent. Consequently, you should consider contacting more than one broker, just as you should with banks or thrift institutions.
Whether you are dealing with a lender or a broker may not always be clear. Some financial institutions operate as both lenders and brokers. And most brokers’ advertisements do not use the word “broker.” Therefore, be sure to ask whether a broker is involved. This information is important because brokers are usually paid a fee for their services that may be separate from and in addition to the lender’s origination or other fees. A broker’s compensation may be in the form of “points” paid at closing or as an add-on to your interest rate, or both. You should ask each broker you work with how he or she will be compensated so that you can compare the different fees. Be prepared to negotiate with the brokers as well as the lenders.
Obtain All Important Cost Information
Be sure to get information about mortgages from several lenders or brokers. Know how much of a down payment you can afford, and find out all the costs involved in the loan. Knowing just the amount of the monthly payment or the interest rate is not enough. Ask for information about the same loan amount, loan term, and type of loan so that you can compare the information. The following information is important to get from each lender and broker:
Ask each lender and broker for a list of its current mortgage interest rates and whether the rates being quoted are the lowest for that day or week.
Ask whether the rate is fixed or adjustable. Keep in mind that when interest rates for adjustable-rate mortgages go up, generally so do the monthly payments.
If the rate quoted is for an adjustable-rate mortgage, ask how your rate and loan payment will vary, including whether your loan payment will be reduced when rates go down.
Ask about the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR). The APR takes into account not only the interest rate but also points, broker fees, and certain other credit charges that you may be required to pay, expressed as a yearly rate.
Points are fees paid to the lender or broker for the loan and are often linked to the interest rate; usually the more points you pay, the lower the rate.
Check your local newspaper for information about rates and points currently being offered.
Ask for points to be quoted to you as a dollar amount - rather than just as the number of points - so that you will know how much you will actually have to pay.
A home loan often involves many fees, such as loan origination or underwriting fees, broker fees, and settlement (or closing costs). Every lender or broker should be able to give you an estimate of its fees. Many of these fees are negotiable. Some fees are paid when you apply for a loan (such as application and appraisal fees), and others are paid at closing. In some cases, you can borrow the money needed to pay these fees, but doing so will increase your loan amount and total costs. “No cost” loans are sometimes available, but they usually involve higher rates.
Ask what each fee includes. Several items may be lumped into one fee.
Ask for an explanation of any fee you do not understand. Some common fees associated with a home loan closing are listed on the Mortgage Shopping Worksheet.
Down Payments and Private Mortgage Insurance
Some lenders require 20 percent of the home’s purchase price as a down payment. However, many lenders now offer loans that require less than 20 percent down - sometimes as little as 5 percent on conventional loans. If a 20 percent down payment is not made, lenders usually require the homebuyer to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) to protect the lender in case the homebuyer fails to pay. When government-assisted programs like FHA (Federal Housing Administration), VA (Veterans Administration), or Rural Development Services are available, the down payment requirements may be substantially smaller.
Ask about the lender’s requirements for a down payment, including what you need to do to verify that funds for your down payment are available.
Ask your lender about special programs it may offer.
If PMI is required for your loan
Ask what the total cost of the insurance will be.
Ask how much your monthly payment will be when the PMI premium is included.
YOUR PERFECT ENGLAND VACATION
To go to England as a vacation can be something you will always remember and can be a part of you the rest of your life. There is so much history and so much to do in England that thousands of pages could not be enough to explain it all!
Below you will find the 10 things you must do while in England inorder for your vacation to be complete and perfect:
The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is an obligatory stop for tourists in London. The ceremony takes place daily from March 31 to July 31 and on alternate days the rest of the year. The Queen's Guard's iconic fuzzy hats, called "bearskins," can be up to 80 years old and are handed down from generation to generation.
London's Kew Gardens, formally called the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, began as a private garden at a royal estate in the 16th century. In 1759, after several ownership changes, Princess Augusta began to build the garden's exotic plant collection. It now holds about 33,000 types of living plants, millions of dried specimens, and a voluminous research library. Here, a gardener carries the massive pad of a Victoria amazonica lily.
Hadrians wall was named for the Roman emperor who commissioned it in A.D. 122, Hadrian's Wall stretches 73 miles (117 kilometers) across northern England from coast to coast. Its purpose: to deter the barbarians in what is now Scotland from their raids on Roman Britain. It was eventually breached in A.D. 367, and Roman rule in Britain ended about 40 years later.
Visit Stonehenge, on Salisbury Plain, is arguably England's greatest archaeological treasure. Though weathered and broken, its ruins are a window on a prehistoric world, guarding secrets after more than 4,500 years. Here, lights from the nearby town of Amesbury lend a lavender glow to the sky above the enigmatic monument.
World renowned for its focus on archaeology, London's British Museum started in 1753 from three private collections. This view from above shows the recently completed glass-and-steel canopy over the Great Court. In the middle is the famed circular Reading Room, where such literary luminaries as Karl Marx and Virginia Woolf once went to study and write.
England's famed Lake District, in the northwestern county of Cumbria, boasts breathtaking scenery that has inspired some of the country's most famous poets and novelists. Blanketed by rolling mountains, the isolated region is home to an abundance of wildlife, some found only here and nowhere else.
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in Bankside, London, represents a well-studied best guess at what William Shakespeare's original 1599 Globe playhouse might have looked like. Finished in 1997, the Globe was constructed near the site of the original theater using techniques and materials common in the 1500s, including a reed-thatch roof. Here, actors perform Julius Caesar before a packed house.
The cathedral-like Central Hall of London's Natural History Museum boasts a towering arched ceiling ribbed with exposed iron beams and adorned with hundreds of hand-painted tiles depicting plants and animals. Designed in the 1860s in the German Romanesque style by architect Alfred Waterhouse, the building first opened its doors in 1881.
Among the most famous spans in the world, London's Tower Bridge is named not for its massive support structures but for its proximity to the Tower of London. Completed in 1894 after eight years of construction, it was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge (drawbridge) of its time. In 2008, work began on a three-year, $6.6 million restoration project, including a new coat of paint for the bridge's flashy blue suspension chain.
The first tower of Windsor Castle, the sprawling royal residence and fortress in Berkshire, England, was completed nearly a thousand years ago. It is currently the oldest continually occupied castle in the world, and the largest, spreading over 13 acres (5 hectares) of land. This vantage shows a portion of the Queen's Jubilee Garden, built in 2002 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's 50 years on the throne. go to: UK official website: