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.
DID YOU KNOW ARIZONA IS A VERY POPULAR TOURIST DESTINATION?
Arizona-the Grand Canyon State-is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Beyond the iconic Grand Canyon, experiences await you in every direction and in every corner of the state. Arizona is home to 47 national parks, monuments and refuges as well as 29 state parks that showcase mountains, buttes, deserts and hidden lakes. Visitors often start exploring Arizona from Phoenix, the state capital and the fifth largest city in the United States.
Phoenix and Outskirts
Today, Phoenix is a destination as well as a gateway to further adventure in the rugged deserts, lakes and canyons around its edges. Here are some sites to visit around the city:
Phoenix was not the first town to arise along the banks of the Salt River. Explore Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park to see where the ancient Sonoran Desert people once lived and farmed.
The145-acre Desert Botanical Garden strives to be the premier center in the world for the display, study and understanding of desert plants and their environments. Visitors from around the world come here to appreciate the beauty of the garden and to enjoy its outdoor trails, special events and education programs.
The Heard Museum is one of the world’s finest destinations for learning about American Indian arts and cultures with its 11 exhibition galleries, free guided tours, outdoor sculpture gardens, renowned café, art gallery, trading-post style shopping and more. Be sure and watch the Heard’s Native People of the Southwest video series.
There is a reason National Geographic named Phoenix one of "America’s Best Hiking Cities." Phoenix’s South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States with 16,000 acres and 51 miles of trails for hiking, wildlife viewing or horseback riding. Other Phoenix area trails and desert preserves include Camelback Mountain, Shaw Butte and Piestewa Peak. The Tonto National Forest is another “backyard” desert playground for urban dwellers-tubing on the Salt River is an Arizona summer tradition!
THE BEAUTY OF STOCKHOLM
Stockholm is the capital and largest city of Sweden, with nearly 2 million inhabitants within its vicinities. Stockholm is not the oldest town in Sweden. As Sigtuna, Sweden's first capital, was sacked by pirates in 1187, the Swedes built up fortresses along the inlet of Mälaren, and Birger Jarl (Jarl is a title corresponding to British Earl) had a fortress built on an island later known as Gamla Stan. The first records of Stockholm were written in 1252 by Birger. As the land raised, the Stockholm straits became the only waterway between Mälaren and the Baltic Sea during the 15th century, replacing Uppsala as the effective capital. Since King Gustavus Vasa liberated Stockholm in 1523, Stockholm has remained Sweden's most important centre of commerce, though Gothenburg later became the largest international port. During the 17th century, Stockholm was the base of the Swedish Empire, with a land area twice the country's current size, nearly encircling the Baltic Sea.
The city contains buildings from all ages since the 13th century. Like the rest of Sweden it was untouched by the World Wars, but particularly between 1955 and 1975, hundreds of old buildings in Norrmalm were demolished in a large-scale modernization process, encouraged by similar projects in other European cities. Since then, only infills and a few areas have been developed with new architecture in central Stockholm.
The inner city is made up of 14 islands connected by some 50 bridges on Lake Mälaren, which flows into the brackish Baltic Sea, and passes the Stockholm archipelago with some 24,000 islands and islets.
Stockholm is a cosmopolitan place with both classical and modern architecture, and a captivating Old Town, Gamla Stan. Over 30% of the city area is made up of waterways, and another 30% is made up of green spaces. Air quality is third best of the European capitals - behind Berlin and Copenhagen.
So what can you do in Stockholm?
Climb the City Hall tower for a fantastic view of Stockholm. Don't miss Gamla Stan, Stockholm's oldest attraction and one of the best preserved medieval city centers in the world. Walk through small winding streets lined with stores full of handicrafts, antiques, art galleries and cafés. The Royal Palace and Stockholm Cathedral are also located in Gamla Stan.
Also since Stockholm is one of the most crowded museum-cities in the world with around 100 museums, visited by millions of people every year, you might want to see all that you are missing. The most renowned national museum is the Nationalmuseum, with Sweden's largest collection of art: 16,000 paintings and 30,000 objects of art handicraft. The collection dates back to the days of Gustav Vasa in the 16th century, and has since been expanded with works by artists such as Rembrandt, and Antoine Watteau, as well as constituting a main part of Sweden's art heritage, manifested in the works of Alexander Roslin, Anders Zorn, Johan Tobias Sergel, Carl Larsson, Carl Fredrik Hill and Ernst Josephson.
The Museum of Modern Art, or Moderna Museet, is Sweden's national museum of modern art. It has works by famous modern artists such as Picasso and Salvador Dalí.
Other museums are:
-Stockholm City Museum
-Fotografiska, museum of photography
-Skansen, the archetype of open-air museums, inaugurated 1891
-Nordic Museum, dedicated to the cultural history and ethnography of Sweden
-Royal Coin Cabinet, dedicated to the history of money
-The Vasa Museum, now with the reconstruction of the missing parts of the Vasa Ship
Stockholm also has a beautiful art scene with a number of internationally recognized art centres and commercial galleries. Amongst others privately sponsored initiatives such as Bonniers Konsthall, Magasin 3, and state supported institutions such as Tensta Konsthall and Index all show leading international and national artists. In the last few years a gallery district has emerged around Hudiksvallsgatan where leading galleries such as Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Brändström & Stene have located. Other important commercial galleries include Nordenhake, Milliken Gallery and Galleri Magnus Karlsson.
Distinguished among Stockholm's many theatres are the Royal Dramatic Theatre (Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern), one of Europe's most renowned theatres, and the Royal Swedish Opera, inaugurated in 1773.
Other notable theatres are the Stockholm City Theatre (Stockholms stadsteater), the Peoples Opera (Folkoperan), the Modern Theatre of Dance (Moderna dansteatern), the China Theatre, the Göta Lejon Theatre, the Mosebacke Theatre, and the Oscar Theatre.
Stockholm has places such as Vaxholm, Grinda, Sandhamn and Utö where you can visit and see its historic buildings.
Drottningholm-The Royal family lives at the 18th century World Heritage Drottningholm Palace on the Lovö island, 30 minutes from central Stockholm public transport. The 18th century palace is beautiful, and much of it is open to the public. The surroundings are well worth a walk as well. In the summertime, there is a regular boat service from
Stadshuskajen (the City Hall Quay) to Drottningholm:
Birka- For the real Viking buff, there's Birka, the site of a former Viking city of about 1,000 inhabitants situated on Björkö, an island in Lake Mälaren. In recent years, a replica of the old city has been built up. Boats to Björkö are operated by Strömma Kanalbolaget . Birka can also be reached by public transport to Rastaholm, and boarding a boat.
Uppsala- The fourth largest city in Sweden, but still doable as a day trip. 80 km north of Stockholm. In Uppsala you can see the biggest cathedral in Scandinavia, Linnaeus' botanical gardens as well as Viking royal burial mounds and temple remains from the time when Uppsala was Sweden's capital.
Sigtuna- Oldest surviving Swedish town, effectively Sweden's capital during the Middle Ages. Streets are small here and dotted with low built wooden houses. Lies north of Stockholm and makes a good daytrip. Take the commuter train to Märsta and change to bus 570, 572 and 575 for Sigtuna. All operated by SL.
Bornsjön- For a real wild animal safari close to Stockholm, Bornsjön is the best spot. It is a nature reserve 30 minutes drive south of Stockholm. The natural environment is perfect here for watching mammals like moose, roe deer and wild boar.
Roslagen, the coastal area of Uppland, north-east of Stockholm. Norrtälje is the major city, conveniently reached by buses leaving from Tekniska högskolan. The area offers an almost endless variety of public lakes, beaches, coves, cliffs, islands, forests, farmland, wild animals, fishing, trekking, free camping and just about everything for nature lovers and independent travelers. Also a perfect location to see Swedes in their recluse summer homes, enjoying all concievable outdoor activities and marine sports.
So there are so many things to do and so many places to see in Stockholm, it would be nice to see them all right! go to Stockholm