Thursday, September 20, 2018

Apartments managed by hotels

NOTE:     This blog has no ads and I'm not beholden to hotels, cruise lines, tour companies or airlines, and that's why I can offer my readers the truth about all of the above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less

   The latest trend for small hotel groups in Italy as well as some other countries are the advent of apartment suites with hotel services to include half board that allows for the best of all worlds with a full English breakfast included available at the hotel—cook in for lunch and eat dinner at the hotel, or cook your own dinner.  
   Anyone who travels to a destination and uses that destination as a base to travel out of or to stay and explore must enjoy the pleasure of renting a suite apartment managed by a hotel that offers hotel services.
   The apartment suite should be either in the hotel or just steps away in another building
   Renting an apartment in preference to a hotel when traveling to a particular destination is one that encouraged me to write my first informational travel book NO MORE HOTELS IN PARIS: How To Rent An Apartment, a copy of which is in libraries worldwide (, and my book is also in permanent collection of The Library of Congress.
   Yet in the 21st century the destination apartment rental business has been taken over by startups like FlipKey and others, in addition to travel sites like TripAdvisor or Expedia, not to the best alternative as it once was in the year 2000 when my first NO MORE HOTELS Paris destination book was published.

   A word of advice, now renting an apartment in a travel destination is fraught with problems, but if you do go with a company that rents suites apartments, and you check with the tourism agency at your destination, then ask the company if it is affiliated with a hotel group, you have a better chance of resolving any problems when you find what you rented is not what you expected, especially if you don't pay for the entire stay in advance.
   The best thing to do is to negotiate a partial payment in advance, and pay a little bit extra if necessary, then do put your advance on a credit card, not a debit card.
   What happens if you do the due diligence and you get there but find you can't stay?
   First hand, I found that out this year when I visited Trieste Italy for 10 days, but when dealing with reputable companies it is possible to resolve your dispute amicably.
   I did, since my rental problem was like a business arrangement gone awry—treat the manager with respect, and he or she will be willing to negotiate a settlement.
   In my case, it was in season in Trieste, but the  manager was Italian and he suggested an Italian 4 star hotel that did not offer discounts to hotel booking websites.
   The hotel was within blocks away owned by a small Italian hotel group that offered half board at a great rate.
   When I inquired as to why the hotel didn't use the  usual hotel booking sites, the manager said that they were always full and known to Italian and European tour operators.
   The suites  manager called the hotel and they had a room available a day before the 5-days I had paid for in advance.
   I accepted it and the suites manager agreed not to charge me the tourism tax to make up for the extra day I would lose.

   See a picture of me at the hotel below, and I am smiling.
   All because I found my perfect solution to my next year's stay in Trieste—the Continental Hotel has suite apartments just across the street, Palaces Suites, offering me the best of both worlds, either half board, or the free English breakfast included in the very reasonable rate.
My stay in 2017 at the  posh Trieste Savioa Excelsior Hotel in a beautiful apartment suite with balcony overlooking the sea and with hotel services, plus full English breakfast was 2 times more expensive and they didn't offer a half board rate.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Is there a travel destination utopia?

NOTE:     This blog has no ads and I'm not beholden to hotels, cruise lines, tour companies or airlines, and that's why I can offer my readers the truth about all of the above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less

For me, there isn’t a travel destination utopia
   But I have fond memories about the first European vacation I took.
   Against the advice of a veteran travel agent who told me to concentrate on one country, stay in the main city and take day trips, I opted for an on the road vacation.
   For the 2 weeks of my vacation I traveled through 5 countries, flew into London, stayed overnight and traveled to Paris. 
   In Paris I rented a car and from there traveled to Switzerland, into Italy over the mountains and via the road along the Mediterranean through Monaco into the south of France, back to Paris for an overnight then home to the USA.

   There are well known travel sites that tout lists of the top travel destinations, like Lonely Planet, for instance lists the top for 2018.

   Yet I believe that the travel destination utopia is one we fantasize about.
   Perhaps the best destination are many, it depends on what you want for the time off that you have to focus on the day by day and moment to moment challenge of being away from home wherever that is.
   The prime utopia travel destination can be just getting away from the everyday monotony of working, coming home, eating dinner, and getting ready to go to work again.
   Just waiting for a real vacation from your day to day existence will bring you toward your travel destination utopia,  whether you’ll find your utopia destination is up to the travel gods.
   Good luck!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

2018 repeat: travel advice 2017

NOTE:     This blog has no ads and I'm not beholden to hotels, cruise lines, tour companies or airlines, and that's why I can offer my readers the truth about all of the above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less

    Here's what I advised in my travel roundup for 2017:  "In 2017, I see the right vacation recipe has a better outcome with certain choice possibilities into the mix for the baking of your vacation…However, since the most needed ingredient for the best vacation outcome is your destination, consider the state of the world.
   Now in mid December 2017, nothing has changed for traveling in 2018.
   The state of the world is still in a terror mode, but there are buys to be had for anyone who is willing to step into the thicket of migrant tents on the Greek island of Lesbos, as well in Athens where you can take the ferry to all the island, but there are segments of the populace who don’t have enough to eat and you need to keep your wallet out of sight. 
   Long term plans plus $$$ are necessary for travel to Australia and Singapore, China can be pricey if you want better accommodations than those offered for so-called “budget” tours.
   The western Europe countries offer great values for the “cheap travel” seekers, but France, Belgium as well the UK have terror problems, the throwing of acid in the UK, even Spain is a simmering catalyst for rebellion, also, a recent terror attack took place in Barcelona, too. 
   Portugal’s proximity to Morocco suggests a terror attack could occur, although it’s a “cheap travel” destination.
   Now Ireland is also a “cheap travel” value but so far very safe, despite the proximity to the UK—I'd stay away from the contentious Northern Ireland where there can be rumbles.
   Very safe and traditional Switzerland can be pricey, but this "no bargains" travel destination is unique¾ of the country lives the picturesque life in towns and villages where families have had their homes and land for generations.

   My “safe” great value travel choice in 2018 is still southern Italy, plus the Adriatic coastal city of Trieste that borders Austria as well as the Balkans.  
   Great “comfort” travel values can be found in Naples and Trieste even at the last minute, but to go in season you will need to preplan at least 3 months in advance.
   I do nominate the city of Trieste for the 2018 "travel value" where you'll find shopping, quality restaurants with excellent hotel and suite hotel choices.
   And I haven’t forgotten that in 2017 I invited my readers to join me for a pampered luxury value plus bountiful breakfast at the Savoia Excelsior Palace Trieste with award winning restaurant, made even more memorable for me thanks to “sweet Alice” who is mentioned most frequently in TripAdvisor's customer reviews regarding their Savoia 5* dining experience—if you dine there, ask for “sweet Alice” to help you chose from the menu and if needed customize your choice.

Be safe and enjoy  happy travel in 2018.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

Disability & airline issues

NOTE:     This blog has no ads and I'm not beholden to hotels, cruise lines, tour companies or airlines, and that's why I can offer my readers the truth about all of the above + offer the many ways to enjoy comfort traveling for less

   Around the global world there is now an awareness that the need of access for those with disabilities must be a prime goal both in design of public buildings and redo of city streets, as well, in every facet of life.
   For example, disability mandates extend to psychological and health issues requiring a service dog to accompany the disabled person everywhere, even aboard an aircraft—large over-size dogs now must be accepted by owners of large apartment building or condos, also in gated communities.

   I was flummoxed, then dismayed when I rec0ently took an inbound flight from Rome to JFK on Alitalia and discovered there was a change of aircraft, but my disability did not qualify me for a seat equal to the confirmed aisle seat I had chosen months earlier.
   Even more puzzling, when I was recovered from my recent flying ordeal, I researched the European Union’s criteria for airlines carrying persons with disabilities and filled out a complaint regarding the regulation that seemed to apply—I was informed that the regulation did not apply in my case.
   When I contacted the FAA’s legal department and related my complaint to one of their lawyers—that’s when I found out why the European Union said my situation did not apply—the FAA’s lawyer told me that when there is a change of aircraft, airlines are not required to inform the passengers, and not legally required to find a seat equivalent to the original confirmed seat.
   I was still confused and could not believe that airlines had no legal liability if there was a change of aircraft and confirmed seats were not honored, so I called the Department of Transportation’s consumer help line (1-855-368-4200) and left a message—within a few hours I received a return phone call.  Very carefully, and in great detail I was given the reason why a change of aircraft absolves airlines from considering persons with disabilities when new seats are assigned in place of the previously confirm seat.  Yet it made no sense to me that a computer driven overlay of seats for the changed aircraft allows airlines to disturb the travel plans of disabled passengers, reassign seats regardless of inconvenience, or worse, cancellation of trip.
   In fact, the Department of Transportation’s view is “make a plan B” for such an event” which might include asking for another flight,  even if the delay is more than a day, but he also indicated that a call to “your congressman” would help to revise the Disability Act by adding airlines to the transportation mandatory compliance regardless of change of aircraft.
  As well, you can file a consumer complaint against the airline which is available on the **Department of Transportation website, the airlines are required to respond to your complaint and the Dept. monitors the list to determine what airlines are frequent offenders.
   If you are disabled, and there is a change of aircraft that requires you to cancel your trip, you can file a complaint with the *ADA affiliated with the AG of the United States—on the ADA website you will see posts of complaints that were filed against Greyhound and others settled with an agreement to insure persons with disabilities can travel like everyone else.
   Be an activist, call AAPD (American Association of Persons with Disabilities) to ask how you can help to make airlines conform to requirements for persons with disabilities regardless of change of aircraft.