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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!
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THE HISTORICAL HEBRIDES ISLANDS

The Outer Hebrides - also known as the Western Isles - are a 130-mile long island chain on the northwestern fringe of the UK. The main islands are Lewis and Harris, North and South Uist, Benbecula and Barra, but there are also scores of smaller islands. Nearly all offer superb walking in an unrivalled setting.

Magnificent beaches with perfect white sand, usually deserted, stretch for mile upon mile on their western coastlines. The islands also offer a unique culture, being the stronghold of the Gaelic language, and superb wildlife. Harris has a range of unfrequented but spectacular mountains whilst Lewis, South Uist, and to a lesser extent some of the other islands, all offer fine hillwalking. Yet another attraction are the archaelogical remains found throughout the islands - a treasure trove of prehistory.

With its gorgeous white sand beaches, turquoise seas, rugged moors and jagged peaks, the Outer Hebrides is the ideal retreat from modern, urban life. Whether you’re planning walking, cycling, golfing or fishing on your holiday, or are simply looking to just soak up the culture and history, the Outer Hebrides is where your perfect break awaits.

pectacularly located on the outer north western edge of mainland Scotland, this beautiful chain of 200 inter-linked islands in a 130 mile archipelago has a population of just over 26,000 people residing in 15 interlinked islands.

Inhabited for over 6,000 years, the islands offer plenty unique archaeology to discover, each reflecting the islands' diverse culture and speaking of the intriguing past. From the magnificent Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis to Bosta Iron Age House on Great Bernera, or the Barpa Langass on North Uist, explore the places that captivate the senses and the imagination.

There are various important prehistoric structures, many of which pre-date the first written references to the islands by Roman and Greek authors. The Western Isles became part of the Norse kingdom of the Suðreyjar, which lasted for over 400 years until sovereignty was transferred to Scotland by the Treaty of Perth in 1266. Control of the islands was then held by clan chiefs, principal of whom were the MacLeods, MacDonalds, Mackenzies and MacNeils. The Highland Clearances of the 19th century had a devastating effect on many communities and it is only in recent years that population levels have ceased to decline. Much of the land is now under local control and commercial activity is based on tourism, crofting, fishing, and weaving.

Boasting 55 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and three National Nature Reserves, this unspoilt wilderness with breathtaking scenery is an incredible natural playground for outdoor lovers. The contrasting terrain of low lying Lewis and mountainous Harris offer great adventures from cycling, walking and climbing to fishing and watersports. Whatever you’re looking for, the islands have something for everyone.

Protected and recognised internationally for their environmental importance, the islands are teeming with wildlife. Visit St Kilda, one of only 29 dual UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, for some amazing birdwatching.  With more than 100 species of birds breeding here, including the UK's largest gannet colony, this natural draw attracts many visitors every year.

The region is also famous for the quality and distinctive taste of Hebridean food. From specialist local products such as Stornoway black pudding to unique whisky and abundant seafood, you’ll be delighted for the choice and the list of places to enjoy or buy fresh, local produce.

The ancient Gaelic language is still widely spoken here. As a heartland of the Gaelic culture, Hebrideans proudly and widely celebrate their roots, especially in the form of music. Why not soak up the region's rich history by attending the Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway? This enduring outdoor event is a great way to learn about the local culture and heritage.

Travelling to the Outer Hebrides is relatively easy too. There are plenty of daily flights and ferries from different points on the mainland and the regular inter-island ferries make getting around straightforward.

The Outer Hebrides offer the visitor a fantastic range of activities and places to visit. For the more active visitor there are opportunities to participate in walking, cycling, rock climbing, sea kayaking and sailing.

From the Butt of Lewis in the north to Barra and Vatersay in the south there are historic and archaeological sites to visit and throughout the islands there are craft centres, galleries and museums which provide images and artefacts reflecting the culture and landscape of these wonderful islands.

For the adventurous there are boat trips available to islands such as St Kilda, The Flannans and Mingulay. Here you will have the opportunity to observe spectacular birdlife and marine life.

A number of venues throughout the islands promote traditional music and culture and during the year a variety of festivals and concerts are held.

The long daylight hours of summer make the Outer Hebrides a paradise for the artist or photographer with the ever changing light and an early morning walk can provide an opportunity to see the elusive Otter or some other shy wildlife.

There are a wide range of hostels, hotels, self-catering cottages, campsites, bed and breakfast or sporting estates - all of which offer accommodation tailored to the needs of the Outer Hebridean traveller.

go to Hebrides Islands


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