The Points Guy http://thepointsguy.com Sat, 18 Apr 2015 21:21:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Favorite Places: SPOT & Skye Bar in Sao Paulo, Brazil http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/favorite-places-spot-skye-bar-in-sao-paulo-brazil/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/favorite-places-spot-skye-bar-in-sao-paulo-brazil/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 18:30:04 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119519 For the second installment of our new TPG weekend series, “Favorite Places,” I’m sharing a couple of hotspots in the huge, stylish city of São Paulo, Brazil. My recent trip there was inspired by amFAR’s Inspiration Gala, but I also managed to squeeze in some local nightlife—a popular restaurant called SPOT, and the ultra-cool Skye Bar at the Hotel Unique.

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I was thrilled to meet two Brazilian TPG readers, Alexandre Zylberstajn and Maria Pia Garcia, at SPOT in Sao Paulo—totally out of the blue!

SPOT
Alameda Min. Rocha Azevedo, 72
Bela Vista, São Paulo 01410-000
+55 11 3283-0946

I loved the atmosphere at this hopping, um, spot, where the food is good and the people-watching is even better. Set in the hip Bela Vista neighborhood, this restaurant has been busy ever since it opened back in 1994.

Their salads and fish dishes are light and fresh, they make their own pastas, and you can tuck into a few Brazilian specialties, too—like feijoada, a rich, hearty beef stew served with rice. You might be able to sneak in early at lunch, but be sure to make reservations if you want to have dinner.

During my own recent dinner with friends, every table was full and the noise level was pretty high, but the scene felt fun rather than overwhelming. Everything about this bright, airy place invites you to see and be seen—the big circular bar in the center, the outdoor terrace, and huge windows encircling the whole restaurant. And though you might not know it, while you’re here you’re likely to be surrounded by Brazilian models, artists and celebrities.

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FYI: If someone tells me they’re a big fan and offers to buy me a drink, I’ll tend to say yes!

In a fun twist, two of my fellow diners considered me a celebrity while I was here. Brazilian TPG readers/point maximizers extraordinaire Alexandre Zylberstajn and Maria Pia Garcia sent me a note on a napkin to ask me if they could buy me a drink, and I happily said yes. It was great to meet two of my readers in such a random, fun way—and it just goes to show that miles and points aren’t just a U.S. thing!

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The Skye Bar at Sao Paulo’s Hotel Unique offers some truly amazing views—and delicious drinks.

Skye Bar at Hotel Unique
Avenida Brigadadeiro Luis Antonio, 4700
Jardins, São Paulo 01402-002
+55 11 3055 4702

After dinner, my friends and I headed to the crazy-cool Hotel Unique in the fashionable Jardins district. This cutting-edge, high-design hotel looks like a huge boat that’s been docked on dry land, with cool furniture everywhere; its awesome fitness center made Lori Zaino’s list of Coolest Hotel Gyms Around the World. Some of its best features, though, are the amazing views of the city you can see from its rooftop Skye Bar.

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The funky, cutting-edge Hotel Unique looks like a big wooden ship docked on concrete—and its rooftop bar is a Sao Paulo hotspot.
This is one of my favorite hotel rooftop bars anywhere. The cocktails here are delicious (go for a caipirinha, a lightly sweet, fruity drink made with cachaça, a deceptively strong sugar-cane liquor), and the sushi is fresh and tasty. If you go, please have some edamame for me!

At the Hotel Unique and the Skye Bar, even the booze looks cool.
At the Hotel Unique and the Skye Bar, even the booze looks cool.

Ever been to São Paulo? What were your own favorite places there?

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Airbus’ Planned A380 Economy Layout Will Be A Tight Squeeze http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/airbus-planned-a380-economy-layout-will-be-a-tight-squeeze/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/airbus-planned-a380-economy-layout-will-be-a-tight-squeeze/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 15:29:54 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119773 At the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany this week, Airbus unveiled its 2017 plans for an 11-abreast, 3 x 5 x 3 seat configuration in the economy section of its A380s. Cramped, narrow and poorly laid out, this design is clearly intended to save shareholders money while disregarding the comfort of the tightly-packed passengers who will actually sit in them.

A380s
Planned for a 2017 rollout, Airbus’ claustrophobic new economy class layout would seat 11 abreast in a 3 x 5 x 3 configuration.

The A380s’s present economy cabin configuration is an already-snug 3 x 4 x 3. The new 3 x 5 x 3 layout will preserve each economy seat’s width of 18 inches while bumping the plane’s passenger capacity from 525 to 544, and probably adding a few pounds’ worth of takeoff weight. The three seats near the window on each side will be raised up by a few inches, freeing up just enough room for a fifth seat to further cramp each row’s mid-section. (Just when you thought getting a middle seat couldn’t be worse—it turns out it could be.)

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Photos courtesy of @AirlineFlyer.

Airbus spins their motive behind this new seating design as a means of empowering budget-conscious economy passengers to decide if it’s worth their while to sacrifice some comfort for cheaper seats. However, the European-owned manufacturer is concerned with their own bottom line, as well; with major carriers like Lufthansa, KLM and Virgin Atlantic passing on orders of this behemoth aircraft designed for a luxury-focused pre-2008 world, Airbus is now looking to compete for the growing Asian budget-carrier market.

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Airbus is really up against it with this new design. Photo courtesy of @thatjohn.

Emirates, the biggest purchaser of the A380, has yet to sign off on this new economy-cabin configuration, opting instead to request expensive fuel-efficient engines (like the Rolls Royce models featured on Airbus’ A350-900s and A330-900neos) that could save about 20% per seat in operating costs. Airbus has yet to commit to Emirates’ request—but the result of this stand-off could give wing to a new market focus for the A380.

Once again, Boeing, it looks like it’s your move.

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Free $20 Amazon Credit, 50% IHG China Sale, and Other Deals http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/free-20-amazon-credit-50-ihg-china-sale-and-other-deals/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/free-20-amazon-credit-50-ihg-china-sale-and-other-deals/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 12:29:25 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119677 Here’s a round-up of the week’s points, miles and travel industry news you may have missed:

50% Off participating IHG China properties bookable Fridays
50% off participating IHG China properties, bookable on Friday.

IHG 50% Off China Properties Every Friday

Every Friday until June 19, 2015, IHG will release list of participating hotels in China that you can book for up to 50% off, but you only have 24 hours to book. You must book with the Advance Purchase Rate at selected hotels in Greater China for stays before July 31, 2015, and you will receive a discount of up to 50% on room rates. In addition, IHG is launching their “Share Forever” Promotion, where you can earn 500 bonus points after one night at an IHG hotel anywhere in the world between May 1 and Sept. 7, 2015.

IHG offers tiered bonus for purchased points
IHG is offering a tiered bonus for purchased points.

Reminder: Get up to a 60% Bonus for Buying IHG Rewards Points

IHG Rewards is offering a bonus of up to 60% for purchasing up to 60,000 points through May 8, 2015. The promotion is partially targeted, as the maximum bonus is only 50% for some members. Log in to your IHG account to see what bonus you’ve been offered.

Like past buy points promos from IHG, this is a tiered bonus that depends on how many points you decide to purchase:

  • Buy 1,000-19,000 points, receive a 30% bonus
  • Buy 20,000 – 29,000 points, receive a 40% bonus
  • Buy 30,000 – 39,000 points, receive a 50% bonus
  • Buy 40,000-60,000 points, receive a 60% bonus

Points can be purchased in increments of 1,000 at the following rates:

  • 1,000-10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $12.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points
Get bonus AA miles on car rentals with Avis and Budget
Get bonus AAdvantage miles on car rentals with Avis and Budget.

Earn Bonus AAdvantage Miles for Budget and Avis Rentals

You can earn 500 bonus AAdvantage miles per day or up to 2,500 bonus miles per rental, plus save up to 35% on airport rentals with Avis. Use AWD # K817165 and coupon # MUAA094 with your AAdvantage number when booking.

Also, you can earn up to 500 bonus AAdvantage miles per day or 2,500 bonus miles per rental with Budget. Use BCD # U072411, coupon # MUAZ051, and your AAdvantage number when reserving.

Both offers expire June 15, 2015. 

Get 3,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points for a stay at the Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad
Get 3,000 bonus Hyatt Gold Passport points for a stay at the Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad.

Get 3,000 Bonus Hyatt Gold Passport Points for a Stay in Ahmedabad

To celebrate the opening of a new Hyatt Regency in Ahmedabad, India, the hotel is offering a bonus of 3,000 Gold Passport points for an eligible stay before June 30, 2015. Make sure to use the promo code AMD3K at the time of booking.

Priority Pass members will no longer have United Club access
Priority Pass members will no longer have United Club access

Priority Pass Removing United Club Access

Priority Pass members will no longer recieve access to United Club lounges effective May 15, 2015. This means that Priority Pass members will no longer have access to United Club’s 49 lounges (41 located in 26 airports in the US, and 8 at international locations). However, they have alternative lounges at 17 of the 34 airports that are affected by this change.

Some may find a targeted Amex Offer for $20 off Amazon purchases
You may find a targeted Amex Offer for $20 off Amazon purchases.

Targeted Amex Offers: Free $20 at Amazon

Head to your Amex Offers page to see if  you’ve been targeted to receive $20 back when you spend $20 or more through Amazon by June 6, 2015. This offer may not be available to everyone, but it’s basically free money to those who get it, so it’s worth checking.

Rent an Audi A4 for $49 per day in April with Silver Car
Rent an Audi A4 for $49 per day in April with Silvercar.

Rent With Silvercar at $49 Per Day

Silvercar only rents one kind of car: the Audi A4. Each car is loaded with free GPS, WiFi, and satellite radio, and Silvercar offers a fair and square fuel plan, meaning they will fill up your tank at market value plus a $5 refueling fee. Using the promo code Silver49, you can rent for $49 in April.

Fly Business Extra for bonus points
Fly Business Extra for bonus points.

Earn Bonus Business Extra Points For AA Transcontinental Service

Fly transcontinental and earn triple Business Extra bonus points in First and Business Class, or double bonus points in the Main Cabin. You must first register for the offer using the promo code A32115 and travel before May 31, 2015.

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Starwood Giveaway, Drink Wine in Italy & Cruise the Amazon http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/starwood-giveaway-drink-wine-in-italy-cruise-the-amazon/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/starwood-giveaway-drink-wine-in-italy-cruise-the-amazon/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:59:01 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=118517 Check out this week’s travel contests and sweepstakes to try your hand at winning Starwood stays & points, a getaway to Amelia Island,  wine tasting in Italy, a tour through Spain or a cruise the Amazon!

Use points for concerts at SPG properties and win free points, stays & more
Use points for concerts at SPG properties and win free points, stays & more

Win Starwood Points, Stays and Concert Tickets From SPG

Register for the “Hear The Music” promotion and you could win prizes like tickets to concerts, 50,000 SPG points or free trips. Earn one entry for every two nights booked through spg.com or the SPG app completed by May 22, 2015. Post photos on Twitter or Instagram from your favorite SPG Moments experience or SPG stay and tag them #spglife for extra entries. Additionally, each time you book a stay using the SPG apps through April 17, 2015, you’ll be eligible to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card (U.S. members only.) You can also use points to redeem for SPG concerts, like Jamie Cullum at the St. Regis Mexico City, or John Legend at the Sheraton Los Angeles, or sporting events. 

Win a trip to Amelia Island, Florida
Win a trip to Amelia Island, Florida

Win a Trip to Amelia Island From National Geographic

You can win a trip to Amelia Island, located just off the coast of Florida. The five-day/four night winning trip includes:

  • Round-trip air transportation to Jacksonville, Florida
  • Four nights’ accommodations at Summer Beach Resort
  • Choice of Segway tour or kayak tour from Kayak Amelia
  • Entrance to Fort Clinch State Park
  • Horseback riding on the beach from Stay’ N Country Ranch
  • A river cruise from Amelia River Cruises
  • Guided jet ski tour from Flying Fish Adventures
  • $500 Visa gift card for ground transportation
  • $200 gift card for dining

The contest is open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are 21 years or older at the time of entry. Enter by 11:59 pm ET on April 30, 2015.

Win a trip to Verona, Italy.  Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Win a trip to Verona, Italy. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Win a Trip To Verona, Italy From Bolla Winery

You could win a three-night/four-day trip to Italy for two people, including:

  • Roundtrip economy-class airfare for two to Verona, Italy from major airport nearest winner’s residence
  • Three nights hotel accommodations
  • One $250 gift card for spending money
  • A paid trip to tour Bolla winery in the suburbs of Verona

The trip must be taken by December 31, 2015, and the winner may opt to have a cash payout of $5,000 in lieu of trip to Verona, Italy.

The contest is open only to legal residents of the United States and the District of Columbia (except the state of Utah) who are 21 years of age or older at the time of entry. Enter by 11:59 pm ET on April 30, 2015. 

Win a trip to Barcelona. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Win a trip to Barcelona. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Win a Trip to Spain From the Travel Channel

You can win a trip to Spain, including:

  • Round trip coach class airfare for winner and one guest to Madrid, Spain, from the major U.S. airport nearest Grand Prize Winner’s residence within the 48 contiguous United States and a return flight from Barcelona, Spain
  • Ten days/nine nights first class hotel accommodations
  • Tour of Spain, including stops and tours in Madrid, Cordoba, Seville, Granada, Valencia and Barcelona
  • Transportation between cities
  • Daily buffet breakfast and four three-course dinners
  • All taxes related to accommodations and airfare

Open to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and D.C., age 21 or older. Void in Alaska, Hawaii and where prohibited. Enter by 5:00 pm ET on April 30, 2015.

Win a cruise for two along the Amazon
Win a cruise for two along the Amazon

Win a Cruise Through the Amazon From The Planet D

You could win a cruise for two through the Amazon in a private cabin with balcony aboard the La Estrella Amazonica for a 2016 departure (excludes holiday departures and is subject to availability)The prize does not include airfare.

 Entrants must be North American residents and must be at least 18 years of age. Enter by April 27, 2015. 

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5 Small Cities in Europe Where You Can Live Large http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/5-small-cities-in-europe-where-you-can-live-large/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/5-small-cities-in-europe-where-you-can-live-large/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 20:14:55 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=118385 As the dollar edges closer to the Euro and holds strong against other European currencies, it seems like Europe is on every budget-conscious traveler’s mind. But why focus solely on crowded hotspots when there are plenty of charming places scattered throughout the continent that are also worth checking out? TPG France-based Contributor Lane Nieset takes us through five of the most delightful small cities in Europe that should definitely be on your travel bucket list.

St Mark's Church Zagreb
St Mark’s Church in Zagreb, Croatia dates back to the 12th century.  Photo by Lane Nieset

Zagreb, Croatia

Though Zagreb is Croatia’s capital, it’s often overshadowed by the islands or coastal destinations like Split and Dubrovnik. Travelers see the city as a stopover point before heading further south or taking a train to Eastern European hotspots like Budapest, but the capital is a hotspot in its own right, full of hidden gems tucked away on cobblestone streets.

Though Croatia joined the European Union in 2013, it still uses its own form of currency, the Kuna—and despite the country’s reputation as a cheaper destination, you’ll likely spend a lot of Kuna in its jet-set cities. In Zagreb, however, travelers can still indulge in Croatian specialties like pašticada, a stewed beef dish served with gnocchi, at a fraction of the price while dining at local favorites like Kerempuh, a restaurant overlooking the Dolac daily farmer’s market. While visiting Zagreb, stroll past 13th-cenury stone gates and towers and be sure to stop in the more modern attractions, like the quirky Museum of Broken Relationships.

Getting There: The Zagreb International Airport (ZAG) is 25 minutes from the city center and offers service from major carriers like American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa and United Airlines, with connections in Paris, London, Frankfurt, Munich and Rome.

Where to Stay: Zagreb have a few points hotels to choose from, including the 306-room Sheraton Zagreb Hotel, the five-star Westin Zagreb, and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Zagreb in the business district.

Bryggen Wharf
The old Bryggen Wharf in Bergen. Photo courtesy of Bergen Tourist Board/Girish Chouhan-visitBergen.com

Bergen, Norway

Maintaining its own currency, the Krone, Norway is known for being a pricey European destination—especially in the design-savvy capital, Oslo. However, the country has plenty of beautiful cities and towns along the fjords that won’t break the bank. One of these is so storybook perfect, it became the inspiration for Disney’s hit film Frozen.

Bergen may be Norway’s second largest city, but it still maintains a small-town feel, surrounded by seven mountains and dotted with architecture dating back to the 12th century. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen, a wharf that once served as a Hanseatic trade center in the 14th to 16th centuries, is lined with 62 charming colorful wooden buildings from the Middle Ages that are now home to artisan shops and restaurants. And just in case that’s not picturesque enough for you, know that its prime location between two fjords—Hardangerfjord, and the world’s longest fjord, Sognefjord— have earned it the tagline “Gateway to the Fjords.” Bergen is an ideal home base for exploring nearby destinations by boat or bike.

Getting There: Bergen Airport, Flesland (BGO) offers over 30 flights from major cities throughout Europe, as well as from New York City (JFK), on carriers like British Airways, Norwegian, SAS, and KLM.

Where to Stay: The 342-room Radisson Blu Royal Hotel is set in one of the best locations in town‚ right next door to the Bryggen wharf. On the opposite side of the wharf next to the fish market lies the 210-room Clarion Hotel Admiral (part of Choice Hotels), a former boat warehouse dating back to 1903 that’s surrounded by the sea on three sides.

Cesky Krumlov
View over Český Krumlov from the castle. Photo by Lane Nieset

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Prague’s castle is a sight to see, but the lesser known medieval village of Český Krumlov is also home to a castle complex—the second-largest in the Czech Republic—and it’s just a few hours away from this capital city. Forming a border around part of the town, the castle dates back to the 14th century and is comprised of 40 buildings and palaces spanning five courts. The town itself dates back to the 1200s, and the Vltava River flowing through the area was used as a trade route during the Early Middle Ages. These days, the river is used more for recreation, and you’ll find travelers come from around the area to go rafting and kayaking during the summer months.

Getting There: The closest airports are the Blue Danube Airport Linz (LNZ) in Austria, located an hour away, with flights from Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa, and the Václav Havel Airport Prague (PRG), a three-hour drive away, services flights for American Airlines, Air France, Air Canada, and Delta Air Lines. If you’re traveling by train, České Budějovice is the closest station, just 20 minutes from town and a four- to five-hour ride from Prague.

Where to Stay: Not surprisingly, this tiny village lacks big-name chains, but there are a number of small inns, hotels, B&Bs and hostels. Four-star options include the 74-room Hotel Corona and the 59-room, Provence-style Hotel Bellevue. Also consider looking into rental accommodations sites like Airbnb and Wimdu, as well as HomeAway and VRBO.

Ljubljana
The triple bridge in Ljubljana. Photo courtesy of Ljubljana Touris/B.Kladnik

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia’s capital has been deemed the European Green Capital for 2016, and it’s this blend of green spaces, parks and Athens-inspired architecture that make this 5,000-year-old city much more than a stopover point en route to nearby Austria or Croatia. Take a cruise along the river Ljubljana and admire the Triple Bridge and riverside architecture by Jože Plečnik or head up to the Ljubljana Castle for sweeping views of the city from Outlook Tower. The popular Bled Castle and Lake Bled are also an easy day trip from Ljubljana, less than two hours by train.

For more reasons to visit Ljubljana, see why we named it one of the Top 7 Emerging European Travel Spots last year.

Getting There: Fly into the Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (LJU) on Air France, SWISS or Turkish Airlines, or take the train from Venice, Vienna or Zagreb.

Where to Stay: The 114-room Four Points by Sheraton Ljubljana Mons is set on a hill in the lush outskirts of the city, just 10 minutes from the center, and is considered Slovenia’s first “designer hotel” thanks to its design by Slovenian architect Boris Podrecca. Part of Best Western Rewards, the BEST WESTERN PREMIER Hotel Slon is a four-star spot set right in the center near the Ljubljana castle and old city.

Saint-Emilion
Saint-Émilion is know for its vineyards, as well as underground monuments. Photo by Lane Nieset

Saint-Émilion, France

Of all the charming towns in France, one stands out in particular—the UNESCO site of Saint-Émilion, in the southwestern region of Aquitaine. With its cobblestone roads, nearby vineyards and buildings dating back to the 9th century, the medieval village is perfect for wine and history lovers, and it’s just a short trip from the city of Bordeaux. While cozying up in a wine bar is a great way to spend your time here, another is checking out the town’s series of underground monuments, like the 11th-century Monolithic Church carved out of limestone.

Getting There: The Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport (BOD) is the easiest place to fly into, with flights on British Airways and Air France. From Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion is just a 45-minute drive, or travelers can opt to take a train or the Line 302 bus.

Where to Stay: Serious foodies will enjoy staying at the 21-room Relais & Châteaux property, Hostellerie de Plaisance, with a terrace bar overlooking the town and an ancient vineyard. The perfectly paired Saint-Émilion wine and gourmet fare at the hotel’s restaurant don’t hurt, either. For a more low-key spot, the 56-room ibis Bordeaux Saint Emilion hotel is located just outside of town.

While you have Europe on your mind, be sure to see these related posts:

Saying Goodbye to Foreign Transaction Fees
5 European Beaches Perfect for a Summer Getaway
10 Amazing European Islands That You May Not Know About
Maximizing British Airways Avios on Long-Haul Routes
Maximizing Choice Hotels Privileges for European Travel
4 Great Sites for Booking Short- and Long-Term Accommodations
Hotel Alternatives: Booking Rental Homes for Travel
Tips & Tricks for Booking Rental Homes

Which small town in Europe is your favorite? Which European city is next on your list of travels?

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4 Reasons Why US Airlines Are Better Than Singapore First http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/4-reasons-why-us-airlines-are-better-than-singapore-first/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/4-reasons-why-us-airlines-are-better-than-singapore-first/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:57:58 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119830 After my recent journey in Singapore Airlines’ new first class aboard their Boeing 777-300ER, I’ve finally figured out what makes domestic carriers so fantastic—and boiled it down to these four simple things.

On most U.S. carriers, you're lucky if first class serves you a $10 box of wine
On most U.S. carriers, you’re lucky if first class serves you a $10 box of wine

1. They encourage sobriety. By offering a poor selection of wines and Champagnes, U.S. carriers create fewer hangovers. Also, think of all the empty calories they help you avoid—like the whopping 90 you’ll find in a sparkly four-ounce glass of Dom. Remember: staying fit is important!

Thank you, American Airlines first class, for creating unappealing meals like this, and helping me maintain my youthful figure
I’m grateful to American Airlines for creating unappealing meals that (inadvertently) help me maintain my goal weight.

2. They promote a thin lifestyle. By offering grotesque food choices, they make flyers want to eat less and thus, create less obesity.

Dom Perignon not enough for you? Well, good thing Singapore First Class offers Krug, too!
Who can go to sleep when this is free? Every minute of sleep is $20 wasted—so thank goodness for U.S. airlines!

3. They encourage sleep. By offering less appealing wine and food, U.S. carriers remove that stressful feeling of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Sure, that first class seat is more comfortable than one you’d find back in coach, but without all the distractions of excellent meals and free-flowing Krug, you’ll actually want to get some shut-eye. According to scientists, sleep is extremely important for all sorts of things (e.g., clear skin, sanity, etc.), so think of this as a win when booking first-class flights on U.S. airlines.

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If you never try Singapore Airlines’ new first class, you’ll never know what you’re missing—and your in-flight expectations will never be dashed.

4. They don’t destroy your sense of luxury. After you fly Singapore First Class, you’ll cringe at the thought of ever “going back” to dumpy U.S. carriers. So rather than raise your expectations, it’s better to never experience true in-flight luxury than to know what you’re missing every time you fly.

Stay tuned for more on Singapore First Class—but in the meantime, what do YOU “love” about first class on U.S. airlines?

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Learn to Sail—And Set Off For The World’s Top Sailing Spots http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/learn-to-sail-and-set-off-for-the-worlds-top-sailing-spots/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/learn-to-sail-and-set-off-for-the-worlds-top-sailing-spots/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 18:29:02 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=118420 I’m thrilled to introduce “Sail Away,” our latest TPG monthly series providing you with everything you need to know to make the sailing lifestyle a reality. Today, TPG Contributor Shayne Benowitz takes us inside San Francisco Bay’s OCSC Sailing School with its founder Anthony Sandberg. A sailor herself with countless hours on the water in New York Harbor, Key West and along the California coast, Shayne spoke with Sandberg about what it takes to become a confident sailor and some of his favorite destinations worldwide.

anthony-sandberg-341-300x274
Anthony Sandberg, OCSC Founder & President, at the helm.

For Anthony Sandberg, there was never a distinct moment of learning how to sail. Growing up in Hawaii, sailing, skiing, swimming and surfing came as second nature to him as learning how to walk.

Born into a large Norwegian family of sailors with eleven bothers and two sisters, an active lifestyle and a passion for the outdoors was engrained in him from the beginning. Before founding OCSC Sailing School in San Francisco Harbor in 1979, he attended Dartmouth College where he was a member of the sailing, skiing and rowing teams. From there, he went onto skipper yachts throughout Europe and race sailboats around the world.

Today, his six-acre campus, with 50 yachts and a direct wind line to the Golden Gate Bridge, is a place to learn to sail and connect with a community of sailors. They offer a rigorous, structured curriculum with 45 courses of hands-on experience combined with classroom instruction. “We’re not right for everyone, but if you want to be good, this is the place to learn,” says Sandberg.

US Sailing Certified Courses

For most people, the starting place is Basic Keelboat, a US Sailing Certification class that is designed to be completed in two weekends and enables you to confidently skipper 18- to 27-foot monohulls in protected waters with light to moderate conditions, or crew a similar-sized vessel in open water and more challenging conditions. To simply get a taste for sailing, two-hour introduction courses are also available.

San Francisco Bay presents challenging conditions for sailors. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
San Francisco Bay can present challenging, yet spectacular, conditions for sailors. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

San Francisco Harbor is a notoriously challenging proving ground for sailors with strong currents and storms rolling in every afternoon kicking up winds to 18 knots. It’s necessary to also hold a Basic Cruising certificate in order to confidently take family and friends out sailing on your own here. The Basic Cruising course provides the instruction needed to skipper a boat in more challenging conditions.

The next level is Bareboat Cruising, which means you’ll be able to confidently charter a sailboat without a hired skipper on vessels as large as 40’. This is the ability level needed to make those dreams of an autonomous sailing vacation a reality.

Advanced courses in navigation and passagemaking are also on offer at OCSC and will further your expertise on the water.

All three of these US Sailing Certification courses can be completed in two weekend sessions at OCSC, ranging in price from $1,195 to $1,595. Once you’ve completed Basic Keelboat, you may choose to become a member of OCSC for discounts on additional coursework and access to their fleet of yachts for charters. After all, the only true way to become a better sailor is through practice and good instruction, notes Sandberg.

 

Mykonos will be one of the stops on OCCS' Greece 2015 itinerary. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Mykonos will be one of the stops on OCSC’s Greece trip itinerary for September 2015. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Sailing Vacations with OCSC

OCSC also arranges group travel adventures by land and sea. Join a flotilla as crew or skipper and sail through exotic locales in a supportive atmosphere on a fleet of chartered vessels. Upcoming flotillas are being planned in Greece for September 2015 and in Belize for February 2016.

Sandberg is also committed to culture and social good. He and his sailing school regularly reserve blocks of tickets to the San Francisco opera and ballet for its members. He also plans “bucket list-worthy” land adventures with a mission of leaving the destination better than how they found it. In the past, they’ve bought 100 girls out of sex slavery in Nepal and raised $25,000 to create a birthing clinic in Copper Canyon, Mexico, home to the last of the Aztec Indians, where women’s mortality rate in childbirth is perilously high at 20 percent. Next up, is a cultural journey and hike around Machu Picchu, Peru in October 2015.

Sandberg acknowledges that sailors have an inherent interest in travel. “With sailing, the world opens up in a way that traveling by car, bus or plane can’t,” he says. Here are some of his favorite sailing spots around the world to stoke your wanderlust and desire to sail.

Sandberg led with the state of Maine. “It’s such an authentic place to sail,” says Sandberg.

Rugged beauty in the Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
Rugged beauty in the Pacific Northwest. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

In the Pacific Northwest, he’s particularly drawn to the raw beauty of Washington State’s San Juan Islands.

An hour and a half north of Los Angeles, the Channel Islands in Southern California make for an exciting and beautiful offshore adventure from the nearby town of Ventura.

Dramatic landscapes sailing in Norway. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
Dramatic landscapes sailing in Norway. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

With his family hailing from Norway, this is a natural favorite of Sandberg’s. “It’s like Switzerland got flooded,” he says of the mystical waterways.

So much to discover sailing through Turkey. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
So much to discover sailing through Turkey. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

The Mediterranean is the site of his annual flotillas in September, rotating between Turkey, Greece and Croatia. Of the three, Turkey is his favorite. “Every stop leads to more amazing people, food and culture.”

The Bahamas' Out Islands are a sailor's paradise. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
The Bahamas’ Out Islands are a sailor’s paradise. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

“I’m a little jaded when it comes to the Caribbean,” Sandberg says, remembering a time when it was less crowded and undiscovered. Still, he concedes it’s a prime place to get started with bareboat crusing. “It’s easy, fun and the islands are close to one another,” he says.

Belize is a new favorite destination of Sandberg’s for coastal sailing on catamarans with fascinating archeology everywhere.

Phuket offers excellent waters for sailing. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
Phuket offers excellent waters for sailing. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

Phuket, Thailand is a favorite destination for Sandberg’s flotilla vacations.

Hanoi, Vietnam offers surprising sailing delights and unparalleled scenery.

Dramatic scenery to discover on the water in New Zealand. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.
Dramatic scenery to discover on the water in New Zealand. Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

Sandberg describes the sailing terrain of New Zealand similar to that of the dramatic Pacific Northwest.

Australia is a draw not just for sailing, but also incredible diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef.

In the South Pacific, Sandberg feels that Tahiti is no longer the paradise it once was, but he still loves Tonga and its innumerable pocket islands.

Are you a sailor? Do you want to learn how? Where are some of your favorite sailing destinations?

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10 Spots to Use Citi Hilton Reserve’s $100 Statement Credit http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/10-spots-to-use-citi-hilton-reserves-100-statement-credit/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/10-spots-to-use-citi-hilton-reserves-100-statement-credit/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:59:17 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119660 You can’t ask for much better than getting a free flight or hotel room while still earning travel rewards and elite credits. Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen offers 10 great options for doing just that by using a newly offered perk on one of Hilton’s co-branded credit cards.

Earlier this week, Hilton launched a new sign-up bonus for the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card. For a limited time, you can receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $100 or more on a Hilton stay within the first three months of card membership. This is in addition to the two free weekend nights you earn after spending $2,500 in the first four months. You may already have a Hilton stay planned, but if not, I want to highlight some terrific options with low rates over the next few months if you want to take a night away and have (almost) the entire stay credited back to your account.

Hilton HHonors has FINALLY added lifetime status benefits. Read on to see if you have qualified!
There are plenty of good properties to visit and earn your $100 statement credit.

This list takes into account regular room rates over the next few months, since the credit is only available for a stay within the first three months of card membership. I also attempted to find “desirable” properties (not random Hampton Inns at middle-of-nowhere interstate exits). Finally, I’ve noted when these low rates are available around upcoming holidays: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, and Fourth of July.

The credit is easy to earn — just make sure your final bill at checkout surpasses $100! Some of the low rates I’ve found won’t quite get there even with taxes & fees, so you can simply charge a meal, a glass of wine, or even a Coke from the property’s gift shop to your room in order to make up the difference.

Before I get into the list, let’s briefly review what makes this card such a great value proposition. In addition to the sign-up bonus and statement credit, you’ll earn 10 Hilton points per $1 spent on hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio, 5 points per $1 spent on airline and car rental purchases, and 3 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases. You also get Hilton HHonors Gold status as long as you’re a cardmember, and the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, making it a good choice for international travel. You’ll enjoy all of these benefits during your first stay, so the properties on this list become even more attractive!

So, which Hilton properties can you visit for (almost) free? Here are some options:

The two towers of the DoubleTree Orlando Universal
The two towers of the DoubleTree Orlando Universal

DoubleTree Orlando Universal

Located at the entrance to Universal Studios, this hotel boasts a variety of amenities to please both business and leisure travelers alike. You can actually walk to the park or take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary scheduled shuttle service (which also includes SeaWorld, Wet ‘n Wild, and Aquatica). The location is also close to outlets and the Mall at Millenia, and the updated rooms include contemporary furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Universal or the surrounding area.

Rates for the next three months start at $89 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($107), Memorial Day ($116 – $125), Father’s Day ($98), and the Fourth of July ($134).

The ornate lobby of the Palmer House is a welcome greeting for guests!
The ornate lobby of the Palmer House is a welcome greeting for guests!

Palmer House

This iconic hotel has been greeting guests for over 140 years, and the ornate lobby immediately gives you a flavor of the luxury to come. The Palmer House is located right in the hear of Downtown Chicago, just minutes from many of the city’s attractions. The rooms are a terrific blend of modern comforts and traditional accents, and after a day exploring the city, you can relax with dinner and/or drinks or a treatment in one of the 14 rooms at Balance Spa. My wife and I stayed here a couple of years ago and had a terrific experience.

Rates for the next three months start at $119 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($149) and the tail end of Memorial Day weekend ($129).

A stay at the Hilton should include a trip to the Mall of America
A stay at this Hilton should include a trip to the Mall of America.

Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport – Mall of America

If you’re already feeling the heat in the south, consider a quick trip to the Twin Cities. This property is located near the airport and the world famous Mall of America, with complimentary shuttle service to both. You’re also next to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and just a short Light Rail Transit ride to downtown Minneapolis and its concerts, theaters, and sporting events. The spacious guest rooms each include Hilton’s Serenity Bed and a large arm chair for relaxing.

Rates for the next three months start at $84 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($92), Memorial Day ($84), Father’s Day ($92), and the Fourth of July ($87).

The pool at the DoubleTree in Scottsdale, AZ is just one way to stay busy on property
The pool at the DoubleTree in Scottsdale, Arizona is just one way to stay busy on property.

DoubleTree Resort Paradise Valley – Scottsdale

Another great (and inexpensive) option is this resort just outside of Phoenix. Set on 22 lush acres, the property offers many amenities for guests, including two outdoor pools, a putting green, and racquetball, basketball, and tennis courts. Most importantly, there’s no resort fee! All rooms include a private balcony or patio, and the complimentary shuttle (within a two-mile radius) will take you to numerous additional dining spots. You can also play a round of golf at one of several nearby courses, most of which are included as part of the free golf benefit on the Citi Prestige (which is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $3,000 within the first three months).

Rates for the next three months start at $89 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($149), Memorial Day ($109 – $139), Father’s Day ($99), and the Fourth of July ($89).

The vaulted lobby ceilings at the Hilton Garden Inn Dallas/Market Center set the property apart from others in the brand.
The vaulted lobby ceilings at the Hilton Garden Inn Dallas/Market Center set the property apart from others in the brand.

Hilton Garden Inn Dallas Market Center

This property is another great option for your statement credit if Dallas is in your future travel plans. Located near Dallas Market Center and just 15 minutes from Dallas-Love Field, this contemporary property also provides complimentary shuttle service within a five-mile radius (which includes downtown and American Airlines arena). All rooms include refrigerators and microwaves along with granite bathrooms and premium cable services. You’ll find the brand’s staple Great American Grill (you’ll get free breakfast there with your Gold status) along with a fitness center, business center, and outdoor pool.

Rates for the next three months start at $79 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($92), Memorial Day ($79 – $101), Father’s Day ($88 – $96), and the Fourth of July ($79).

The Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on Las Vegas Blvd includes the on-site eforea spa.
The Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on Las Vegas Blvd includes the on-site eforea spa.

Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip

If you can stand the summer desert heat, consider a trip to Sin City and a stay on Las Vegas Blvd. This property, located less than a mile from some of the city’s most luxurious casinos, consists of studios as well as one- and two-bedroom suites, and offers amenities like poolside gas grills, eforea spa (and its six treatment rooms), and the on-site deli. Two differences stand out here compared to the mega-resorts in town: no gaming and no resort fees.

Rates for the next three months start at $75 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($170) and at the tail end of Memorial Day weekend ($103).

The DoubleTree Atlanta Downtown isn't only close to top attractions; it also looks (and feels) like a boutique hotel
The DoubleTree Atlanta Downtown isn’t only close to top attractions; it also looks (and feels) like a boutique hotel.

Doubletree Atlanta Downtown

A visit to Atlanta isn’t complete without visits to the city’s top attractions, making the DoubleTree Downtown a great option. Just a few blocks from the MARTA station (giving you easy access from the airport), the hotel is also within walking distance of the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coca-Cola, and Centennial Olympic Park. You’ll be welcomed with the chain’s signature chocolate chip cookie, and can grab a drink or bite to eat at Press before retiring to your tastefully-appointed room.

Rates for the next three months start at $89 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($109), Memorial Day ($89 – $159), and Father’s Day ($149).

The Embassy Suites near downtown San Antonio is a perfect gateway to shop, dine, or cruise the Riverwalk
The Embassy Suites near downtown San Antonio is a perfect gateway to shop, dine, or cruise the Riverwalk.

Embassy Suites San Antonio Riverwalk – Downtown

While Embassy Suites properties appeal to many people for the free breakfast and happy hour, this one gets rave reviews for its terrific location right near the Riverwalk in San Antonio. My wife and I stayed here for Easter a few years ago, and we loved strolling out of the hotel, across the street, and down the steps to the river and the many shops and restaurants nearby. Of course, every room is a suite, and many offer private balconies and/or views of the river.

Rates for the next three months start at $152 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($170) and the end of Memorial Day Weekend ($152).

The lakeside location of the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center doesn't indicate its proximity to Washington, D.C.
The lakeside location of the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center belies its proximity to Washington, D.C.

Hilton Alexandria Mark Center

Hotels in the Washington, D.C. area are notoriously expensive, so finding an affordable option is challenging. Fortunately, the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center fits the bill. Even though the property is just 5 miles from the capitol (with free shuttles to the closest metro station), the lakeside setting and the 43-acre botanical preserve next door give it the feel of a more distant escape. Relax at either the indoor or outdoor (seasonal) pool, or grab a bite at Finn & Porter Steak and Seafood Restaurant or Sushi Bar, both on site.

Rates for the next three months start at $82 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($82 – $92), Memorial Day ($101 – $138), Father’s Day ($82), and the Fourth of July ($82).

You're guaranteed a suite (and a sweet treat) when you arrive at the DoubleTree in Downtown Salt Lake City
You’re guaranteed a suite (and a sweet treat) when you arrive at the DoubleTree in Downtown Salt Lake City.

Doubletree Suites Salt Lake City Downtown

This all-suite hotel in Downtown Salt Lake City is a great jumping-off point for exploring all the city has to offer. Just 7 miles from the airport, you can stroll or take the city’s tram to the Family History Library or Temple Square. You’ll receive the standard cookie at check-in, but you can burn that off working out in the fitness center or swimming laps in the heated indoor pool. Each two-room suite includes a spacious living room, refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker.

Rates for the next three months start at $94 per night, and the hotel has availability on Mother’s Day ($102), Memorial Day ($94), Father’s Day ($94), and the Fourth of July ($94).

Bottom line

As TPG wrote about yesterday, there are many ways to get the $100 statement credit, but if you want a quick (almost free) trip, the value you’ll get from these properties will be hard to beat. Hopefully some of you will be inspired to take a last-minute trip to celebrate mom or dad, or to simply get away for a night!

How will you be earning the $100 statement credit?

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As Profits Soar, Delta Plans International Flight Cuts http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/as-profits-soar-delta-plans-international-flight-cuts/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/as-profits-soar-delta-plans-international-flight-cuts/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 16:10:55 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=119640 As the dollar continues to soar against foreign currencies and the price of oil continues to slump, Delta Air Lines has announced it is significantly scaling back its international network during the fourth quarter of 2015. Certain regions will be impacted more than others, with some areas being cut by as much as 20% and other markets being discontinued altogether.

US airlines flying into/out of the EU must also abide by these rules.
Delta’s long haul fleet could potentially be re-deployed to other domestic routes.

Amid the imminent route cuts, Delta was able to beat its revenue forecast, posting a profit of $594 million. The fact that Delta’s international network makes up about 30% of revenue for the company and the dollar nearly reaching a 12-year high against the euro earlier this week are two significant challenges for Delta with impacts lasting indefinitely. For American travelers, this means that certain countries are now a great value compared to years past. Let’s take a look at some of the potential regions and routes that could be affected by the current macroeconomic climate.

St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Moscow, Russia

Delta currently flies 5 times weekly from JFK to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport on a Boeing 767-400, but given the strength of the dollar, Delta will be cutting service entirely for the winter.

Hotel Review: Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
The view from the 51st floor of the Andaz Tokyo.

Japan

The strong dollar has negatively impacted demand in the Asian market — especially in Japan, where Delta maintains a significant international connecting hub. Delta has stated that it expects to cut Japanese service by roughly 15-20% in the coming months. With such a large portion of service to be cut, expect a mix of both US and intra-Asian service to suffer reductions as well. With numerous Asian destinations served solely via the Tokyo hub, it’s quite possible that some of these destinations will lose Delta service completely.

Spier Winery South Africa
Spier Winery in South Africa

Africa, Indian, and the Middle East

After recently announcing the discontinuation of service between Amsterdam and New Delhi, Delta will no longer serve any destinations in India — one of the largest air transport markets in the world. The airline has stated numerous times that it is no longer competitive in the region because of the increased presence of Gulf carriers and the negative impacts of the strong dollar.

The oil-rich country of Nigeria may soon see decreased service from Delta as well. The volatile global oil market coupled by United Airlines’ presence on its Houston-Lagos route has caused a drop in demand for Delta’s Atlanta-Lagos service, which was once the only scheduled service between Nigeria and the US. Expect to see either a capacity decrease or schedule reduction on this route by year’s end. Although no official announcements have been made just yet regarding service cuts, expect to also see some changes with the airlines’ Atlanta-Dubai and Atlanta-Johannesburg flights in the coming months.

What are your thoughts about the impending cuts to Delta’s international service?

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7 Winter Ski Destinations to Spend Your Summer Vacation http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/7-winter-ski-destinations-to-spend-your-summer-vacation/ http://thepointsguy.com/2015/04/7-winter-ski-destinations-to-spend-your-summer-vacation/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:29:18 +0000 http://thepointsguy.com/?p=118847 Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Jason Steele looks at some relatively uncommon summer vacation destinations, and explains why they should be on your list.

If you’re looking for great summer destinations to beat the heat, consider some of your favorite winter destinations — namely, ski areas. While it used to be that ski resorts and other winter tourist havens turned into ghost towns during the summer, they’re now offering dozens of mountain activities (along with cool weather) once the snow melts.

Unlike at beach resorts, the summer isn’t considered to be peak season in the high country, so you’ll pay far less than you would on lodging, which is fairly plentiful. Finally, you stand a better chance of getting an award flight (at the lowest mileage levels) during the summer than you would in the winter to some of the smaller mountain airports.

2015 might be a great year for booking a trip to Europe, but there’s plenty of adventure to be had closer to home. With that in mind, here are seven ski destinations that are going all out to make your summer as fun as it can be:

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There’s plenty to do at Telluride even after the snow has receded.

1. Telluride, Colorado. This remote mountain town can be very difficult to reach in the winter, but it makes for an easy and spectacular trip in the summer. Summer activities like hiking and mountain biking include free access to the gondola, which also serves as public transportation between the historic mountain town and the Mountain Village at the base of the ski area. Other attractions include golf, ropes courses, fly fishing, and even paragliding (with tandem rides offered).

Getting there: United’s connecting service from Denver to Montrose (about 1.5 hours away) are the only flights there over the summer. Other options include flying into Durango, which is 2.5 hours away by car, and has summer service from United, US Airways, and American; or Gunnison, which has United service during the summer and is also 2.5 hours away by car. Finally, you can fly into Denver or Albuquerque and enjoy a scenic day trip through the mountains (see TPG’s post on the most useful credit cards for a summer road trip).

United still has plenty of saver award availability between Denver and Montrose, the closest airport to Telluride with commercial service.
United still has plenty of saver award availability between Denver and Montrose, the closest airport to Telluride with commercial service.

2. South Lake Tahoe. After a poor ski season due to California’s severe drought, I’m sure businesses in this area are looking forward to the summer. Also one of my top family spring break destinations, this region’s strength is the unique beauty of the deep blue Lake Tahoe, framed by the Sierra Nevada mountains. Take it all in from a scenic gondola ride at the Heavenly Valley Ski Area, or from a dinner cruise or other boat ride on the lake. Heavenly Valley also offers ropes courses, zip lines, and a 500-foot long water slide for tubing. And if that’s not enough, you can always put the money you saved on your family ski trip toward catching a show or trying your luck in the casinos on the Nevada side of the border.

Getting there: All major carriers offer service to Reno, which is only about an hour drive from South Lake Tahoe.

3. Mt. Snow, Vermont. These days it’s almost as common to see families geared up for a day of downhill mountain biking in the summer as it is to see families skiing together in the winter. Mt. Snow was one of the first ski areas to really embrace mountain biking, and it’s renowned for its downhill mountain biking trails, perhaps even more than it is for winter sports. And while it has enough ramps and drop-offs to satisfy even the craziest cyclists out there, it also boasts the only introductory downhill trail in the eastern United States. For those less adventurous visitors, there are activities such as golf, spas, and even a family camp.

Getting there: While residents of the Northeast Corridor will probably drive to the resort in southern Vermont, others might fly into Albany, New York (about two hours away by car). Boston, Hartford, and New York are also pretty close.

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The Winter Park Resort is home to Colorado’s longest alpine slide.

4. Winter Park, Colorado. This is a great place to enjoy the high peaks of Colorado, while being just a short drive from Denver. Like Mt. Snow, Winter Park has eagerly embraced downhill mountain biking, and it offers a gondola and a bicycle terrain park to indulge in. Other activities include Colorado’s longest alpine slide, mini golf, disc golf, an outdoor climbing wall, bungee jumping, and zip lines. And if that’s all a little bit too commercial for your taste, you can visit nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.

Getting there: Just fly into Denver International airport, about 2 hours away by car, which has service from all major airlines and is a hub for United, Southwest, and Frontier. You can even take Amtrak’s California Zephyr train that runs between San Francisco and Chicago, which stops at Winter Park, the highest altitude train station in the country.

5. Taos, New Mexico. At 9,300 feet above sea level, Taos Ski Valley stays cool in the summer even as the New Mexico desert bakes. In addition to chairlift rides, hiking, and mountain biking, other activities include horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, rafting, and hot air balloon rides. Both Taos and nearby Santa Fe are classic Southwestern towns filled with art galleries, craft stores, and the distinctive New Mexican cuisine that is neither Mexican nor Tex-Mex.

Getting there: Taos is within one hour of the Santa Fe airport, where American offers service from Los Angeles and Dallas, while United has flights from Denver. Most travelers will arrive in Albuquerque, a much larger airport just two hours away from Taos.

I wouldn;t
I wouldn’t blame you for being a bit distracted by the scenery during a round of golf at Big Sky.

6. Big Sky, Montana. The name says it all, as this is one of the most scenic areas in the country. Summer activities include mountain biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, hunting, golf, hiking, and of course, blue ribbon trout fishing. In fact, the movie “A River Runs Through It” was filmed at the nearby Gallatin River. Spectacular Yellowstone National Park is also nearby.

Getting there: You’ll want to fly into Bozeman, Montana, which offers a surprising amount of service from United, Delta, Alaska, Frontier, and even Allegiant.

7. Park City, Utah. This upscale resort has several things going for it. First, there are three ski resorts near the town, each offering its own slate of summer activities. In addition, Park City’s historic Main Street is a great place to go shopping and hang out, and the town is only an hour drive from Salt Lake City International Airport, which is a major Delta hub. While you won’t spot celebrities like you do at Sundance, there’s plenty of hot air ballooning, horseback riding, river rafting, golf, and mountain biking to be done.

Getting there: One of the great things about Park City is that you can spend all day there, catch an evening flight home from nearby Salt Lake City airport, and be home in time for a good night’s sleep. Or, if you decide to spend the night, there are plenty of great hotel properties to try out, including the Hyatt Escala Lodge and the Waldorf Astoria.

What are your favorite winter destinations for summer vacation?

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