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 MANY DIFFERENT BEACHES
OF COSTA RICA
In Costa Rica the visitor can enjoy lovely tropical beaches, the grandest adventures, the wonders of nature, scintillating culture, all the necessary components of an ideal vacation. No wonder, then, that thousands of tourists have made Costa Rica their top travel choice.
Ecotourism draws many tourists to visit the extensive national parks and protected areas around the country. Costa Rica was a pioneer in this type of tourism, and the country is recognized as one of the few with true ecotourism. In terms of the 2011 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, Costa Rica ranked 44th in the world and second among Latin American countries after Mexico.
Costa Rica occupies a privileged spot in the heart of Central America. While its territory of 19,652 square miles touches both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the country is surprisingly accessible - one can travel from coast to coast in just three hours by car (or 45 minutes by plane).
The Caribbean region of Costa Rica stands out for its variety of aquatic ecosystems and its beautiful white and black sand beaches, providing an ideal setting for activities such as sport fishing, snorkeling, and sun bathing. The Pacific coast concentrates big tourist centers and its beaches are very popular for surfing, for example Esterillos, Jaco, Hermosa, Boca Barranca. In the Golfito region, near the Marino Ballena National Park, surfing fans can find the famous "long lefthander wave."
Costa Rica's beaches are surrounded by forests, and have great natural diversity. In many of them there are beautiful coral reefs, where you may dive and explore. In addition, depending on the place visited, you have a series of complementary activities, such as: hikes to mangroves, diving, surfing, sport fishing, hiking on trails or horseback rides.
Thanks to the easy access to many beaches, you can make the most out of both coasts. Most of them have warm water throughout the year, so you may come and enjoy the country any season you prefer. If it's diversity you're interested in, each coast offers different shades and textures of sand, white, yellow, gray and black, product of the constant crashing of seashells on coral reefs.
Because Costa Rica is located between 8 and 12 degrees north of the Equator, the climate is tropical year round. However, the country has many microclimates depending on elevation, rainfall, topography, and by the geography of each particular region.
Costa Rica's seasons are defined by how much rain falls during a particular period. The year can be split into two periods, the dry season known to the residents as summer, and the rainy season, known locally as winter. The "summer" or dry season goes from December to April, and "winter" or rainy season goes from May to November, which almost coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season, and during this time, it rains constantly in some regions.
The beaches located in the Guanacaste area, which offer many options for adventure and recreation. It is one of the destinations that satisfies different expectations of visiting tourists. For those who like sunbathing in the coast, they have radiant sunshine almost all year round. Atmospheres are varied, and to profit from each one of them, you may select among adequate lodging options. If you go for retired places, as the beaches found near the Santa Elena Peninsula, there are small boutique hotels, or beaches with hotel compounds, at the Gulf of Papagayo.
In them, you may try and combine different activities as swimming, diving, surfing, windsurfing, fishing, beach volleyball and golf. Or simply enjoy the sun while walking along the coastline. You might want to have the opportunity of tasting the gastronomy of Guanacaste, which has a strong indian influence. The products of the area are mainly based on maize, some of them are "bizcochos" or biscuits, "tortillas", "pozol" and rice with maize, or if you have a sweet tooth, you should try the popular "cajetas". The positive side is you can reach the local beaches of the area, with direct flights from the United States to the international airport in Liberia, Daniel Oduber, or also by land, from San José and the Middle Pacific.
On the other hand, for surf lovers, the beaches of Jacó and Hermosa have the ideal conditions for the practice of this sport. At night, these tourist centers fill with fun and enjoyment, so you may expect to have great moments. All the beaches of the area have comfortable accommodations in the different hotels available. There's easy access thanks to the International Airport Juan Santamaría, from where you continue by land for approximately 3 hours, until reaching the desired destination.
This South Pacific region of Costa Rica offers the possibility of combining the attractions of a beach with the virgin vegetation and coral reefs of Caño island, where you may also practice diving and snorkeling. All of the scenic and exuberant beauties bestowed by nature to this coast are surely going to help you spend some quiet, relaxing vacations. This added value you will discover in its purest form, in the beaches of Golfo Dulce and the Osa Peninsula, being protected by Biological Reserves and the National Park of Corcovado.
Access to this area you have in Golfito's or Puerto Jiménez's runways, which have internal flights that make your trip easier. Thanks to these facilities, you'll arrive faster to one of the places of greatest natural diversity of the country, surrounded by magnificent landscapes, formed by the forests that populate the seaside. This area also counts with access by land and great lodging facilities, characterized by rustic accommodations that will make you feel in closer contact with nature. Give yourself the opportunity of living an adventure, with the activities you may engage in: observation of flora and fauna, will show you a vegetation that is unique, or admire animals as the marvelous macaw. You may go fishing, or surfing, whose fans will profit from the left wave of Pavones, one of the longest in the world.
Beautiful beaches are expecting you in th the South caribbean region of Costa Rica, which you may reach by land. When visiting the South Caribbean with your family, couple or friends, admire the contrast of colors of white or black sand, of the beaches of Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. To the colors is added an exuberant vegetation, blending perfectly with the sea shore, in places where beaches and forests are side by side.
Also enjoy sharing with the local culture. There is a strong Afro-Caribbean influence that will make you live a different experience. Learn about the particular architecture of the region, the joy of living of its people, the popular fashion of braided hair, the flavor of the exclusively characteristic foods of the area such as "rice and beans", "pati" "plantinta", chicken with coconut and "ron don" and the autochtonous exotic habits, that originate because of the ethnic diversity that coincides in this place.
All of this you may complement with adventure activities, such as surfing, fishing or diving, which will allow you to learn about the coral reefs, protecting an incredible amount of fish species.
The voyage to the North Caribbean you may do by sea or air. From June to October, you can live the unforgettable experience of the green turtles' spawning at the beaches of the National Park of Tortuguero. Also enjoy fishing for shad and snook at Barra del Colorado.
Costa Rica offer islands to enjoy sun, breeze and sea. The most surprising is Coco's Island, declared by UNESCO as Natural Heritage of Humanity. It is located 330 miles from Costa Rican territory, and you may reach it by boat, trip that lasts 36 hours, prior consulting specialized companies that may take you in this journey, to enjoy all of the natural beauty, diving or hiking in the island.