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Ritz-Carlton to Build First "Reserve" Property in the US (Puerto Rico)

dorado-beach

(Image courtesy of PR Newsire)

It looks like Ritz-Carlton is going to be expanding their "Reserve" line of properties with an addition on Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico. According to a manager at the Ritz-Carlton Reserve Phulay Bay, The Reserve line is designed to be a complete luxury resort getaway experience, where people should feel fully immersed in their surroundings and secluded from the worries of everyday life. We ...

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SPG Award for Earning Platinum: $25 or a Magazine Subscription

spg-plat-thanks

I think the sentence, "It's better than a sharp stick in the eye!" applies here. I qualified for SPG Platinum status about a month ago. This was the first time I had ever achieved this status level with Starwood. This morning I got an e-mail from Starwood congratulating me on my newly earned status, and as part of my congratulations, I could pick between a $25 certificate to use at an SPG hotel or a magazine subscription. I'm not much of a magazine guy myself so the decision was pretty much a no brainer. I don't believe they're offering this to people who re-qualify or status match. I think this is only for newly minted Plats. $25 isn't much, but I'm not one to turn it down. Thanks!

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So You Think US Airways Sucks? Perhaps You Want a Free Bumper Sticker?

(Picture courtesy of USAirSucks.ORG)

Now this is just hilarious. Tracy Reed, owner and maintainer of usairsucks.org, is giving away free bumper stickers to anybody who wants one. Well, the stickers are a bit self promoting, pointing you right back to his site, but it's still hilarious nonetheless. Everyone has a travel nightmare or two, but he's especially mad about his, saying the following:

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FastTrack Parking at SFO Loses Lease, Shuts Down

fasttrack

Well, this is annoying. You can definitely file this one under "things I wasn't expecting to hear on Monday morning." It turns out that FastTrack SFO, my airport parking lot of choice, has closed its doors. They sent the following in an e-mail:

Attention: Bay Area Customers

 

The FastTrack at SFO is closed to entering parkers. The lease at this property was lost, forcing us to turn away our guests. It will remain open for ...

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Alcatraz: San Francisco's Best Tourist Attraction

the-rock

The question comes up all the time: "If you only had one day in city XXX, what would you do?" It's never an easy answer, and unless you're in Barstow, CA, you usually need more than one or two days to fully experience a city. But when it comes to San Francisco, my home town, my answer to that question is simple: Alcatraz.

For those not familiar, Alcatraz is the famous (now closed) maximum security prison ...

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Euro-Trip: Stockholm, Zurich, A Wedding in the Alps, Budapest, Prague, and an A380!

route

My cousin, a Swiss native, is getting married in September so we're off to Switzerland for his wedding! We used the trip as a great excuse to do a bit of traveling around Europe so I thought I would post the itinerary here. I will report back with trip reports after the trip.

My girlfriend and I are flying on United non-stop SFO-LHR and connecting there to an SAS flight to ARN. The tickets are W revenue fares, and we are on the same PNR. I booked ...

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Will You Be in L.A. this Weekend for Carmageddon?

405

Have you heard the news? Ten miles of the 405 freeway in Los Angeles will be shut down this weekend. Many sites are doing count-downs. The ten miles of freeway that will be shut down are considered by many to be the most busy freeway sections in the world. Growing up in L.A., I would tend to agree. There are many places that have pretty awful traffic - Houston, DC / Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Beijing, and more, but the thing that makes the 405 traffic ...

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Delta Sky Zone: A Lounge for the Kids!

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Yesterday, Delta unveiled a new lounge for kids, the Delta Sky Zone. It's basically a kids-only lounge with XBOX 360s, televisions, educational materials, and more. I'm a bit jealous of those kids! I wish our big-boy and big-girl lounges had XBOX 360s in them. Growing up with my father traveling frequently, my brother and I are were fortunate enough to frequently join he and my mother for trips around the country. My LEAST favorite part of these trips ...

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16 Days in China: Coming Home in Air Canada's Executive First Class Suite

To culminate my long, wonderful journey to China, I flew home on Air Canada PEK-YVR-SFO. This was part of an open-jaw itinerary that included my outbound flight to Hong Kong. While the outbound upgrade was confirmable at booking time, I definitely had to sweat it out for the return home. Part of the reason for this is that the YVR-HKG flight uses the larger 777, while the PEK-YVR flight uses the 767, which has significantly less Executive Class suites. My ...

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Finding a Better Award Seat: It Pays to Keep Checking

I'm off to Europe this September for a couple weeks. I'll post the full details of the trip later, but I just finished booking a significantly better award ticket than the one I had before, and I thought it was worth a post. My girlfriend and I are actually flying to and from Europe on paid tickets, but I wanted to use my miles to get my parents a great premium cabin experience. They'll be flying into Zurich and leaving from Prague. I first started the search for award tickets a few months ...

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Platinum Status and 3 Nights at the St. Regis Punta Mita: So Long for Now, SPG!

May and June were ROUGH travel months for me. Not only were my weeks packed with business trips, but my weekends were littered with things like trips to Vegas, a bachelor party, a wedding, and more. Before this last weekend, I had only slept in my bed two nights in the past five weeks. YUCK.

As I was bouncing around the country, I stayed primarily at Starwood properties, and if I was in a place for three nights, I made sure that I stayed at three different properties, in order to ...

The Pee Pad at the JFK Red Carpet Club Really Grosses Me Out

Sure... males have been known to miss the urinal from time to time. We're all guilty of that one. How does such a problem get solved? Someone comes in and mops the bathroom. At the JFK Red Carpet Club, they have a different solution. There is a cylindrical padding that is pushed against the wall, designed to absorb urine. If this is not the intent of padding, then it is surely what actually happens. This padding often has stains on it, and it grosses me out to think that someone is supposed to theoretically swap this out for a new one regularly. I have always found one of the perks of a lounge to be nicer bathrooms, but the JFK RCC pee pad really detracts from the niceness of that one. United, can we please get rid of that thing?

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A Nice Weekend at the Westin Mission Hills Villas

My girlfriend and I had to do two nights (Thurs - Sat) in Vegas for an obligation, and we wanted to extend the weekend, but given how much we both love the craps tables, we figured it best to leave Nevada in order to preserve our wallets. We wanted to find a spot with a great pool and easy access to an airport so we could fly to San Francisco in the morning. We settled on Palm Springs, always a favorite destination of ours.

I know Palm Springs isn't ...

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Woot! SFO Gets Another A380!

I have been out of town for about three weeks so I haven't had time to notice any changes at my local airport. However, this morning after I landed, and while I waited for my Fast Track parking bus, I noticed these new flags in the area. Looks like Air France has brought the A380 to SFO.

Great! I've enjoyed watching the big Lufthansa drive around the tarmac, and I'll actually be flying it this Fall (more on that in a future post). Now we have another option for those who want to fly in the newest and largest plane around.

I didn't see the plane at SFO this morning, but according to press material, this bird has already started flying as of June 6. Looks like this plane will stop flying to SFO as of September 4, though. So it's only here for the summer season.

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UA Flight Not Available for Check-In? Use the Cargo Site for Plane Swap Info

United.com online check-in is usually pretty reliable. It always "just works," except when it doesn't. Now is one of those times for me. When I tried to check in, I got the dreaded message below:

This is a pretty ambiguous message, and it often means there's a plane swap happening. As you can see, this flight is supposed to be a 767. How do we find out if a plane swap is the issue? Oddly enough, we have to go to United's cargo website, ...

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How Many Vegas Buffets Can You Handle in One Day?

I know my answer: somewhere between zero and one.

Harrah's Total Rewards is hoping you might be interested in two, three, four, or seven! I just saw this ad in the Vegas airport. Now I SUPPOSE I could see the value in paying $45 for a breakfast buffet and a dinner buffet, but I mean, in the spirit of the promotion, that's pretty boring. If you're going to go ahead and grab this sweet deal, don't be a sissy - eat at all seven!

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Have Any Old VISA Signature Card? How About Some HHonors Gold For Ya!?

Random promo that was pointed out to me earlier today... If you have a Signature VISA Card, you can get temporary HHonors Gold status through August. After getting the temporary status, if you stay three nights between now and the end of August, then your status is extended until March 2013. This Signature card does NOT need to be a Hilton card. I just tried it with my Marriott card, and it worked like a charm.

It's a pretty sweet deal. And while it doesn't say anything about this in the promotion, my friend (a HHonors Diamond) tried to do the promo, and boom - 5000 HHonors points magically showed up in his account. So it looks like if you already have HHonors Gold or better, they'll hook you up with some points as a consolation prize. Give it a shot and report back!

The Lounge Loophole: Getting There Without a Plane Ticket

Interesting situations call for interesting solutions. I'm doing a weekend in Vegas / Palm Springs with my girlfriend, and we're meeting here at the Las Vegas airport. We're flying in from different locations, and while I was able to snag a $49 Southwest LAX-LAS fare at 8:30AM, she was not able to fly out until after work. That gives me a long wait for her at the airport. I really like the Las Vegas Presidents Club lounge so I don't mind spending the day working in there. The issue, however, ...

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Slumming it with Starwood in NYC: A Rough Week of Maximizing the Promo

I was in Denver and Washington DC for business last week, and I was able to stay 3 nights in 3 different SPG properties. Doing this not only allowed me to get one free night toward SPG's great promotion that I hate, but it also let me get the Foursquare Check-in Bonus three different times, for 750 (3x250) additional points. Nice! Everything went smoothly last week. While I didn't get any upgrades as a Gold member, I really had no issues, and I was quite pleased with the hotels I stayed at. I ...

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