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!
WHY EVERYONE LOVES
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
It's a wonderland. Old Faithful and the majority of the world's geysers are preserved here. They are the main reason the park was established in 1872 as America's first national park-an idea that spread worldwide. A mountain wildland, home to grizzly bears, wolves, and herds of bison and elk, the park is the core of one of the last, nearly intact, natural ecosystems in the Earth’s temperate zone.
Yellowstone ranks among the most popular national parks in the United States. Few places on earth offer so much scenic and scientific interest in one area. Yellowstone is in the heart of the Rockies, a land of pine-clad mountains and broad, grassy valleys. The countryside is laced with lakes and streams of exquisite beauty.
The popular West Entrance to Yellowstone parallels the winding Madison River, a route followed by the earliest pioneers into the park. It leads to the Grand Loop Road that will take you to all of the park’s major features.
In addition to superb mountain scenery, the park is one of the world’s principle wildlife preserves. Many visitors eagerly await the opportunity to photograph wildlife in its native environment. Yellowstone is a photographer’s paradise.
Traveling south on the Grand Loop Road towards Old Faithful, a side road leads to Firehole River Cascades. Here water pours through an 800 foot canyon, climaxing at roaring Firehole Falls.
The Firehole River is our introduction to the most famous and certainly the most popular section in all of Yellowstone. Our route takes us through a series of thermal basins, beginning with the Lower Geyser Basin. The road brings us close to the popular Fountain Paint Pot, pools of colorful, hot mud that bubble and sputter like pudding boiling in a pan. The mud is a mixture of silica, clay and water.
Bubbles are formed by super-heated gases rising from magma and molten rock deep within the earth. A stroll around Fountain Paint Pots revels a variety of small geyser, pools and springs. Midway, Biscuit and Black Sand basins lie adjacent to each other with the Firehole River serving as a common boundary. Runoff from many of the geysers in these basins drains into the nearby river. Each year Excelsior Geyser alone pours an incredible 5 million gallons of scalding water into the river.
At Midway Basin, Grand Prismatic Spring is the most spectacular feature. From above, its splendid array of deep colors is stunningly visible. At 370 feet in diameter, it is believed to be the largest spring in Yellowstone. Clearly marked boardwalks and paved trails offer visitors a safe and exciting means of exploring the thermal features of Midway Basin.
In the Black Sand Geyser Basin, Cliff Geyser is interesting because it sits of the edge of Iron Spring Creek. Its eruptions can go as high as 50 feet.
Rainbow Pool is a large hot spring with an intensely blue center. The water at the pool’s edge is cooled sufficiently to permit the growth of algae, producing a rainbow of colors. Nearby Sunset lake vies with Rainbow Pool for beauty and iridescent color.
To many visitors, the Upper Basin, the Old Faithful area, is the heart and sole of Yellowstone Park. Unique Old Faithful Inn is one of America’s finest lodges. Today, its immense rustic lobby and huge stone fireplace yet posses the grandeur of earlier times.
No visit to Yellowstone is complete without witnessing one or more eruptions of Old Faithful Geyser. This iconic geyser is the most famous in the world and is one of America’s greatest natural wonders.There are geysers that erupt higher and for longer periods of time, but rarely is the tremendous power of nature so inseparably combined with Old Faithful’s innate beauty. This superb spectacle, once you’ve actually witnessed it in person, will stay in your memory forever.
Since the mid-1960s, at least 2 million tourists have visited the park almost every year. In 2010, a record number of visitors came to the park in July: 975,000. July is the busiest month for Yellowstone National Park. At peak summer levels, 3,700 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessionaires. Concessionaires manage nine hotels and lodges, with a total of 2,238 hotel rooms and cabins available. They also oversee gas stations, stores and most of the campgrounds. Another 800 employees work either permanently or seasonally for the National Park Service.
Park service roads lead to major features; however, road reconstruction has produced temporary road closures. Yellowstone is in the midst of a long term road reconstruction effort, which is hampered by a short repair season. In the winter, all roads aside from the one which enters from Gardiner, Montana, and extends to Cooke City, Montana, are closed to wheeled vehicles. Park roads are closed to wheeled vehicles from early November to mid April, but some park roads remain closed until mid-May. The park has 310 miles (500 km) of paved roads which can be accessed from five different entrances.
There is no public transportation available inside the park, but several tour companies can be contacted for guided motorized transport. In the winter, concessionaires operate guided snowmobile and snow coach tours, though their numbers and access are based on quotas established by the National Park Service. Facilities in the Old Faithful, Canyon and Mammoth Hot Springs areas of the park are very busy during the summer months. Traffic jams created by road construction or by people observing wildlife can result in long delays.
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