Monday, March 30, 2009

Canada is on SALE and 3 for 2 promotions abound !

Time to come out of winter hibernation and get out into the sunshine!. It is a buyer’s market and the trend is towards getting a good deal when you walk into a hotel and ask for the $79 rate.
I’m giving you this tip but don’t want to
mention the name of the hotel that took me up on my bargaining because it is smart for the hotels to give front desk personnel the authority to take walk-ins instead of empty rooms. Previously, the cheapest rates were on their websites and one had to pay rack rate if you turn up at the hotel.
Spring is a good time to have a weekend getaway at Halifax Marriott in Canada on the harbor front and receive a $25 food credit and free parking! Choose from two fabulous onsite restaurants - 44 North Ocean Bistro for chef-crafted Maritime cuisine or the Fife & Drum Pub, featuring casual favorites and live Maritime entertainment on weekends! Or use your credit towards private in-room dining. Offer is valid until April 30 for weekend stays until May 30. (If you book,-quote promotion code P51.)
I often enjoy the hospitality at the downtown Calgary attached to the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre They have a great concierge lounge for elites. It is a bi-level lounge, serving complimentary breakfast and evening hors d'oeuvres. Their eBreaks rate is CAD 111 this weekend.

The average price per room declined 25% in Canada, Western Canada led with highest number of transactions and room pricing discounts.

Many chains offer the,”pay for 2 and get one night free”,.You can even get a discount now if you use points,- Marriott are appeasing their MR members, after devaluing points, by offering the 3 for 2 nights discount in the points needed to redeem nights at a Marriott resort to 2008 levels:
. 3 for 2 Resort Redemption Cat. 4 Resorts = 40,000 points
• 3 for 2 Resort Redemption at Cat. 5 Resorts = 50,000 points
• 3 for 2 Resort Redemption at Cat. 6 Resorts = 60,000 points
• 3 for 2 Resort Redemption at Cat. 7 Resorts = 70,000 points

The 3 for 2 promotion people, must have known that my New Year’s resolution was to not travel for more than 2 nights, unless it is International business travel, because I don’t like to leave my cat for longer than 2 nights.

W Hotels have an offer at several hotels for a green Spring Fling. - Includes a donation of trees on your behalf, in-room breakfast for two, two spring cocktails with the room, .W Fort Lauderdale’s offer is to escape into intra-coastal cool. Your experience includes a VIP Living Room table, W beach towel, two lounge chairs and umbrella on the beach, Bliss® Hot Cream Manicure, a chef-guided kitchen tour with wine at Stephen Starr’s signature restaurant and a room upgrade The W Scottsdale, is also a place to visit before it gets too hot in the Summer. It's a new W, complete with the desert’s most dazzling infinity pool, Arizona’s first Bliss® Spa, Sushi Roku and more. The newly-renovated Hilton Anaheim's near Disneyland CA, is offering 89 of its rooms every day for $89 per night all this year.

The Ritz-Carlton has a Reconnect package, a two-night stay gives you up to a $100 credit that can be used for retail, spa or dining purchases in many hotels. Or use PointSaver points to get a reduced point rate at Ritz-Carltons.
I ‘m so glad that Marriott Rewards are putting the PointSaver offers out again. I had stopped trying to find them because they were so difficult to find. With PointSavers, it takes fewer Marriott Rewards points to get free stays at Marriott hotels worldwide.
Marriot Elites Get 15% Off Plus $100 Bonus Bucks in Canadian Cities -Valid through, March 29, 2009 Use Promotional Code: E0S when booking.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Marriott hotels to turn off the lights

Marriott hotels are dimming the lights for Earth Hour. Many hotels and offices around the world will be turning off all their non-essential lights for exactly one hour to conserve energy, raise awareness of the need to address global warming - or as it is now called “climate change” (because global warming was hilarious). But, the words "climate change", does not say anything because we all know that the climate has always changed since the time that dinosaurs roamed the tropical Arctic. They really should think of a better name for this phenomenon that tree-huggers can embrace.
Athens will cast its vote for Earth by switching lights off at the Acropolis. The Empire State Building in NYC and even the The Great Pyramids of Giza and Cairo Tower will switch off their lights. Jordan will also switch off the lights at Petra. Petra is the most WONDERFUL TOURIST attraction that I have visited.
Wherever you live on planet earth people will participate at 20:30 on Saturday the 28th of March.
In South Africa the V&A Waterfront are planning celebrations along with entertainment including a special performance by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the momentous moment of Table Mountain’s lights being switched off in support of the Earth Hour initiative. See Earth hour in the Telegraaf or here
In Sydney, where Earth Hour began in 2007, every ferry in the city’s famous harbour will sound its horn at precisely 8.30 p.m. to herald the beginning of Earth Hour in Australia, while in Melbourne a people-pedal-powered concert will be underway at Federation Square.
Mass power on-off is not a good idea, simply because it puts a burden on the power management system. If the on-off is large enough and if it covers something like the state of New York, it will incite other problems, largely on the grid management level. Lose the grid and big parts of North America can blackout.
On October 15th it is Blog Action Day link to

Power outages are caused by overloads the system but also by under-use, and can even cause dangerous explosions on the energy-grid. Environmental Awareness to conserve energy is essential, but I hope that it does not cause any problems.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Las Vegas: Room with a view

Las Vegas is more spread out than most people think. The strip is several miles long. The Monorail is convenient but was a 15 minute walk to the Venetian and then walking inside the Venetian has given me blisters. Wish they had walking conveyer belts like in airports. It’s a convention factory and the Convention center is even bigger. They have conventions for everything imaginable! I could go to conventions every day of the year but it would not be very cost effective for my business. This economic slowdown is going to make us all think twice about excess overindulgence.
The Spa at the Venetian (Canyon Ranch) has moved to the next hotel, The Palazzo. and is also a 15 minute walk to the Spa. Looking forward to MIX10 at the Mandalay Bay. I hear that they have a great Spa.
Grabbed my bill and jumped into a taxi to the airport.(only 15 dollars but drivers complain if they don’t get a $10 tip. Hotels and Taxi drivers in Vegas need to improve their service. Their attitude is that most people don’t return or don’t have a say in where they stay if they attend a convention. Recessions remind businesses that service counts. I realized that my hotel bill had a restaurant charge that was not mine and immediately called and spent an hour on the phone with the hotel trying to sorting it out to no avail.
I was ecstatic going to the Loo at the convention because I could stride past the men’s queue for the W.C. restrooms, and there was, BLISSFULLY, no line for the Ladies. I was one of about 10 women attendees’ amongst thousands of men. There was another female at breakfast. She was from Holland. I knew this because she had white slacks on. I used to enjoy sitting at Heathrow and guessing where people came from and I was invariably right. Forgive me for being obnoxious but travel wears me out and I am jealous of all those men that can sleep on planes. Not as fit as I once was. I did refrain from thumbing my nose at the men in line, so I am not ALL bad.
MSFT always puts on a class act convention. Mr. Softie only employs the best of the best. Tao nightclub was fun, talking about toilets, they have glass doors that frost over when one closes it from the inside. – Not many people were brave enough to try it. Wonderful dining experience at the Picasso at the Bellagio Hotel and my view from my room at the PH of the Bellagio fountains was most appreciated. I made this mini movie of it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hitting the road to Vegas MIX09

There has been a lot of talk about Congressional criticism of corporate travel and how the travel industry is suffering, but I don’t see any evidence that they are suffering (earnings apart), because I tried to book a flight to Vegas, 2 weeks ago, for the MIX09 conference. All flights were full so I had to buy a first class seat and could not even use miles.
No rental cars are available even though Vegas is used to bigger conferences. (I always rent a car because parking at most Vegas hotels is free)…... Then I tried to book a hotel but prices have not gone down.. Sure there are lots of offers for the buy 2 nights and get one night free, but Hotels have not given in to make concessions for the bad economy. No compromises on the Starwood Vegas cancelation policy that you can only cancel your reservation for NO charge until 7 days before arrival and many SPG Hotels have an early departure fee. Marriott are a bit better with ; “You may cancel your reservation for no charge until 3 days before arrival” at some hotels in Vegas NV and AZ… etc. Business travel is always wrought with adjustments, so I try to book 6pm hold reservations. Hotels need to amend their rules, unless they only want guests on vacation.
Media coverage and Congressional criticism of corporate travel has created a "paralyzing environment," said Roger Dow, President of the U.S. Travel Association. Wells Fargo continued to try extravagance, but AP revealed a planned a Vegas casino trip for employees booked for 12 nights lasts month at the Wynn Las Vegas and the Encore Las Vegas. Wells Fargo canceled the trip after it had been exposed that it was misusing the $25 billion it has received in federal funds.
The Bankers and Government meeting last month forASF 2009 was also packed. Bankers gathered at the five-star Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas for the American Securitization Forum, paid for in part by companies that took taxpayer bailouts. NBC's Lisa Myers reports. - With criticism of pricey corporate events spurring hotel and resort cancellations, travel industry leaders on Monday encouraged companies to keep spending on travel and offered guidelines they hope will prevent a backlash. But what are they doing to cooperate with travelers? They should be looking after their loyal ELITE customers and doing what needs to be done in a free market economy. I do believe that, survival of the fittest works.
Silicon Valley flourished in the economic recession of the 80’s because people became innovative and competitive. It does not help to have people in Government that don’t know how to run business, interfering and subsidizing bad businesses with taxpayer money.

There are lots of offers. I tried to book the “ELITE MemberOffer Buy Two get One Free, buy 2 nights get 3rd free, see From $137 - $395 atShadow ridge The villages in Palm Desert CA., But got a message that “Unfortunately, the special rate you requested is not available”. Please make a selection from the expensive room rates listed below……….The trendy Renaissance Vegas has a minimum 2 night stay offer called the ”Savvy Traveler Renaissance Las Vegas Vacation Package”.Promo Code is P53) You get $100,towards your next stay, when you choose this package Rates from: $109-$269 Valid Through: December 3, 2009 This is the largest smoke-free, non-gaming hotel. Now that research says that 3rd hand smoke, in rooms and rental cars, causes cancer, I like to stay in a smoke free hotel, but they too don’t have good rates available.
I usually stay at the Planet Hollywood on the Strip, See:

MIX09 at the Venetian Hotel is located on the Strip and features a Grand Canal complete with gondola rides, Las Vegas is the most dynamic, spectacular city on earth. At the start of the twentieth century, it didn't even exist. All its growth has been fueled by adult tourism, but the tourists haven't spoiled the "real" city; there is no real city.It is bizarre sitting on a terrace with a fake sky and gondolas floating in blue CLEAN water. Not like Venice at all.!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Airline fees not reimbursed

You won’t believe the evil scheme that Ryanair is up to now.!
They are offering a cash bounty to the collaborator, turncoat passenger with the “best” idea for the next fee they want to start charging. Offering a €1,000 CASH PRIZE FOR “BEST” SUGGESTION for revenue ideas like, a seat belt fee charged every time you buckle your seat belt, when you get up to use one of their pay-to-pee wash-rooms, you get charged a second time, or an oxygen mask fee in the event of an emergency.
EXPENSE REPORTs are not fun with discretionary charges adding up.
It is difficult enough to get reimbursed by your employer for checked bags, upgrade, priority seating, seat reservation fees, aisle or window seat fee, in-flight snack or drink, pillows, blankets, standby fees, skycap fees… etc.! The Airlines don't give receipts.
Upgrade fees on airlines that charge cash fees for upgrades when using miles, such as American Air and United, are even less likely to be reimbursed. U.S. Airways has a $25 standby fee and Continental charges a hundred bucks to standby for an earlier flight. (This was free previously if it was the same day) Continental airlines Members who purchase fares other than Y can pay a service fee in addition to their miles in order to upgrade to BusinessFirs. One way service fees range between $100 in B class up to $500 in other fares. I had an offer pop up on an international flight at the time of check in online. If you are on a restricted continental ticket, meaning your fare allows changes for a penalty, you will be able to make flight changes within this 24-hour window for $50, or $25 for OnePass Platinum and Gold Elite members. This discounted change fee will apply to all itineraries wholly operated by Continental.
With American Airlines, you can confirm a seat for the same day flight change when traveling in the U.S.for a $50 dollar fee.
As I mentioned previously, - Ryanair put me off discount airlines. (See my posting on - Ryanair “installing a coin slot on the toilet door”.
Ryanair is wacky enough to even suggest some fees on their own website:
· Charging for toilet paper – with CEO O’Leary’s face on it,
· Charging €2.50 to read the safety cards,
· Charging €1 to use oxygen masks,
· Charging €25 to use the emergency exit,
· Charging €50 for bikini clad Cabin Crew.

I have heard the expression that “Good or bad publicity is all good” but this is ludicrous !

Friday, March 6, 2009

Southwest on Forbes most admired companies list

Southwest Airlines has the most entertaining flight attendants; - they really lighten up the attitude of all on board. See the YouTube video of Dave The Rappin SWA Flight Attendant
I’m not a rap fan, but a laugh won’t do you any harm. _. Flying is stressful and these days - the attendants have too much power and can call it a security breach if you look at them the wrong way, so it helps to have the mood lightened up and gives us a feeling of camaraderie. I do fly Southwest when Continental is too exorbitant but I have been elite with other airlines for many years and SWA does not have an elite program. They should do well in this economic climate because companies frown on employees flying and staying in hotels to obtain points for their own gain when top executives have to sacrifice their corporate Jets. Pressure will be on to cut costs on travel. Marriott Rewards and Priority Club will suffer the most since they are the biggest.

In my post last month, I mentioned that Ryanair was the reason that I dont fly discount airlines, but to be fair, I have had good times on Southwest flights. I acknowledged in the Dallas Observer, that Southwest is a good airline, and that they have hedged their fuel well for 17 years, to make flights more affordable for us, but Ryanair put me off discount airlines.(See my posting on - Ryanair “installing a coin slot on the toilet door”.

Fortune magazines survey has Apple at the top of the list. But how, exactly, did Southwest Airlines place above companies like; Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Cisco, Starbucks and Nike? Marriott International is 37th , Singapore Airlines is 33rd on the list and Southwest is 7th! It looks as if all the companies that reported extra bad quarters on the S&P 500, are on the most admired list. Admirable is it not?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Thongs on first V Australia flight to LA!

Virgin Atlantic have great marketing! Richard Branson Twittered onboard VA1 - the inaugural V Australia flight from Sydney to LA. , that "Thongs were given out on our our first V Australia flight from Sydney to LA!". This created quite a stir and a number of business travelers concerned that they might face divorce proceedings if they arrived home with a G-string, thong in their luggage.

...PHOTO HERE IS a surprise entry in the global BRANSON look-a-like competition. Looking good, Mr. Branson Sr. and good looking, Junior. too! That's such a beautiful background of Sydney with Opera house.

Many Americans thought it was kind of weird to give out women's underwear.
But a slew of comments helped explain it:
We call Flip Flop's thongs in Australia. Don't panic all you people in the USA! He is not handing out underwear!! Thanks for the giggle this morning Mr. Branson...ya know thongs are a whole 'nother thing here in the US!
People must really like these - because no-one has put any on ebay yet!! .Thongs & Flip Flop are totally different animal, but sure got my attention.

Bunch of dirty minded people! It fooled me too!

Richard Branson is always on the move. He is on his last leg of his most recent around the world voyage and it sounds like he is doing it in less than 2 weeks. I have been on a few round the world trips, myself, but have done it in a very slow, relaxing pace of one month average.

He should be returning to Heathrow soon. I got a Twittefeed from him explaining that he was recovering from an incredible V Australia party at Chateau Marmont, and that Suite 64 is the place to be. I love tips like that! I gotta get there and will fly Virgin, so I can replace my shreded sweats that Virgin gave me as P.J's on a flight a while ago.