Friday, August 31, 2012

Insider's Dominican Republic

You’ve heard there’s one chance to make a first impression and there’s no where better to illustrate this truism than PUNTACANA Resort & Club’s Tortuga Bay boutique hotel in the Dominican Republic.

Photo by Cynthia Dial


Here’s my first impression.  Arrival at the airport is the old fashioned way—you disembark the plane by descending stairs onto the tarmac.  Upon landing, it is warm (polite terminology for hot) and the line of passengers to get through immigration/passport control is lengthy, spilling onto the tarmac.  As one of the last to disembark, I dread the impending wait when I notice an attractive young woman at the base of the stairs holding a sign—with my name.

Thus my introduction to Tortuga Bay’s “VIP Whisking Service” begins . . .  whereafter I am swept to the front of the line, through passport control, baggage claim and into a private car where I’m served an icy drink for the five-minute ride to the resort.  Bottom line: Within 20 minutes after rising from my airline seat, I am checking into my hotel home for the next several days.

Is this service because I’m a journalist?  No.  It is because I am a guest of Tortuga Bay.To read more about PUNTACANA, go here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quote of the Day

Photo by Cynthia Dial
"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey."
Fitzhugh Mullan

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Insider's Air Travel

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Have you ever flown first class on Emirates Airlines between Bangkok and Hong Kong?  Me either.  But after watching this video I feel as if I have.  Go here and enjoy your flight!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Insider Tips Airports

Photo by Cynthia Dial
I know, I know, long layovers can seem endless, but not if you're in one of these airports. Check out this list of great perks:

Changi Airport, Singapore - Rooftop pool and bar; world's tallest airport slide (4 stories)
Munich Airport, Germany - Own brewery and beer garden
Hong Kong International - Adjacent golf course
Icheon Airport, Korea - Observation deck at terminal 4F, giving bird's-eye view of landings & take-offs
Schipol Airport, Amsterdam - Rijksmuseum, world's first museum to have annex in an airport
JFK Airport - JetBlue's T5 features live concerts, such as Taylor Swift and Sarah McLauchian

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Recommendation

Check out the new book, Games of the Heart, by Eva Shaw.  It came about after Eva read an article in the San Diego Union Tribune about black market adoption schemes where profit-hungry companies sold "return" policies to adoptive parents.  These unscrupulous companies were "selling" toddlers to prospective parents without disclosing their hidden and heartbreaking mental challenges to cash in on the exorbitant return option and she couldn't get it out of her head or her heart.

Then she learned about the squalor found in many eastern European orphanage and women kept as sex slaves to produce "made-to-order" babies sold to Americans. "Sure I could have written an article about the crimes, but I wanted to show the faces and hearts involved," says the author.  "A novel with plenty of mystery and a quirky protagonist that could me smile became the vehicle of choice."

The ebook is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes.  And it'll be in print in late September.  More on

Today's Travia

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL, encompasses over 40 sq. mi., making it nearly twice the size of New York's Manhanttan Island (22 sq. mi.).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Insider's San Diego

 "Cisco Kid"
Prior to movie, docents give ranch house tours

Great night at Leo Carrillo Ranch watching a film from Hollywood's Golden Years era.  BTW Leo Carrillo is Pancho of back-in-the-day "Cisco Kid" fame.  Best part is the price: free.

Insider's San Diego

 Getting inside scoop from Trevor Denman
 Track-side with donut and coffee
Posing with "Pony Boy"
Del Mar Racetrack's annual Donut Day is not to be missed.  The free early-morning insider's peek into thoroughbred horseracing includes coffee, donuts, and a bevy of experts from trainers to famed race caller Trevor Denman--all while the horses are training on the backdrop track.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Insider's Guam

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Guam's top 10 snorkeling spots will make you want to put on a mask, fins and explore!  For details, go here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just Luxe

Photo by Cynthia Dial
What is the top amenity you've been pampered with at a luxury hotel?  For me it was room service by boat at my over-the-water bungalow in Bora Bora at the Hotel InterContinental.  Check out these perks on Trip Advisor.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


When I have really good seats at a baseball game, why do I always sit behind someone with a really big head?

Insider's San Diego

Dogs & baseball. Logical combo, right??

Travel Quiz

What is world's highest trafficked a/p with only one runway?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Insider's San Diego

Photo by Cynthia Dial
I have to share our evening at one of The Grand Del Mar's "Summer Concerts at The Grand." Known as one of the world's (yes, you read that correctly) top resorts, it's never surprising that its offerings are top notch. But even with that expectation, Kent and I walked away feeling we were witness to an extraordinary evening of entertainment. Here's a bit about the players: Mindi Abair, noted saxophonist straight from tour with Aerosmith; Jeff Golub, ace guitarist who rocked his way to fame playing for such A-listers as Rod Stewart and Billy Squier and David Pack of Ambrosia fame. Inside scoop: David Pack still sings Ambrosia's "How Much I Feel" in the original key, wow. The trio's last song was a high-energy, higher octane version of "Pinball Wizard." What a line-up and what an evening!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hot Tip San Diego

It's halibut heaven at 1500 Ocean, upscale ocean-front restaurant at The Hotel Del Coronado, new home of Chef Robert Hohmann, who will debut his menu October 1, 2012.  A bit of background:  Chef Hohmann's worked with such celebrated chefs as Jonathan Benno, Mario Batali, Jaques Pepin and Thomas Keller.  All I can say is that my Alaskan Halibut tasted like butter.  Can you say yummm?

Hot Tip San Diego

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Best bar for Sangria: 1500 Ocean's Sunset Bar at the Hotel Del Coronado. We were there last night at sunset and this outdoor bar overlooking the Pacific showcased Southern California in style!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Door County, Wisconsin

Photo by Cynthia Dial
May I introduce you to Door County?  If "Where?" should be your response to this question, you are not in the minority. But should you overlook Door County, called the Cape Cod of the Midwest, you are making a mistake. First, let me tell you just where Door County is located. This region is the Wisconsin peninsula that juts into the water between Green Bay (to the west) and Lake Michigan (to the east).  For more, go here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Today's Travel Mystery

Disaster turned tourist site??? 

It's interesting what draws visitors to destinations, isn't it?  While I'm a bit surprised at the interest in this (until now) off-the-beaten-path Italian town, in actuality I'm not surprised at all. 

For details on Italy's newest attraction, the site of the sunken Costa ship off the country's coast, go here.

Monday, August 13, 2012


St. Batholomä Church, Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, Germany, on Koenigssee (King's Lake), the most beautiful lake I've seen in my travels. And I can't wait to visit once again.

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Photo by Cynthia Dial

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Insider's San Diego

The San Diego Pops' tribute to its Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch, who in his lifetime won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, Pulitzer Prize and two Golden Globes, touches all. It's filled with handwritten messages of love from the Pops' many fans and will be sent to his wife, Terre. RIP Marvin Hamlisch (6/2/44 - 8/6-12).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Insider's San Diego

"Where the turf meets the surf down at old Del Mar" are lyrics to Bing Crosby's tune touting Del Mar's Horseracing season.  Learn more about the scene on Live Fit Magazine Show and don't forget to check out my suggestions for spending those winnings (12:45). And they're off! Go here to see the show.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

This Day in History

 August 9, 1965

Singapore Is Expelled from Malaysia.  After more than a century of British rule, Singapore gained independence in 1959. Four years later, it joined with nearby territories to form Malaysia. However, racial and economic tensions arose, and two years later, the Malaysian parliament unanimously voted to expel Singapore. Despite being left unexpectedly autonomous with few defenses or natural resources, Singapore rapidly developed into an economic powerhouse. 

Insider's San Diego

Being a top travel destination, even San Diego residents can benefit from the San Diego Visitor Bureau's revamped Web site: 250 pages, 600 articles telling you "Where to Stay," "What to Do," everything.  Here's the inside scoop of America's Finest. Go here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Cities with most sought-after bald men:

1) Fort Lauderdale, FL, 2) New York, NY, 3) Phoenix, AZ, 4) Minneapolis, MN, 5) San Diego, CA, 6) Brooklyn, NY, 7) Chicago, IL, 8) Houston, TX, 9) Tucson, AZ, 10) Tampa, FL


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Insider's San Diego

Fantastic Fall Events in San Diego County

When autumn arrives and the summer beach crowds diminish, visitors to San Diego can relish in the region's sunny mild weather and enjoy a number of fun-filled fall activities to enhance their vacation getaway. During San Diego's shoulder season, visitors can find a variety of annual festivals and fairs, haunting Halloween celebrations and diverse cultural entertainment.
  • San Diego's culinary community joins forces during Sept. 16-21 for San Diego Restaurant Week. Approximately 180 of the region's top restaurants offer prix-fixe, three-course dinner menus at just $20, $30 or $40 per person and lunch menus at $10, $15 or $20 per person. Visitors can sample the signature cuisine and sophisticated style that makes San Diego's dining scene one of the region's top attractions.
  • During Nov. 2-11, hundreds of beer-centric events will take place during San Diego Beer Week, a countywide festival that highlights San Diego's award-winning craft beer, breweries and pubs; event dates, times and locations vary throughout the week.
  • The San Diego International Film Festival returns Sept. 26-30 to downtown's Gaslamp Quarter and expands to La Jolla with a full slate of films showcasing the best in American and international full-length features, documentaries and shorts. Additional activities include Q&A sessions with the directors, workshops, panel discussions, guest appearances by film and video artists and more.
For more Fall Activities in San Diego, click here.
  • Coronado Art Walk on September 15-16 at the Coronado Ferry Landing is the city's annual celebration of the arts, featuring outdoor exhibits of paintings, photography, ceramics, hand-crafted jewelry and other mediums by over 100 artists from around the country, plus musical entertainment and interactive art activities for guests of all ages. Admission is free, and a complimentary shuttle transports guests along Orange Avenue with a stop at the popular Art-in-the-Park exhibit in Spreckels Park.
  • During September 22-23, guests can enjoy fast-paced fun during the 15th Annual Fleet Week Speed Festival at Coronado's Naval Air Station North Island. Held in conjunction with San Diego Fleet Week, the thrilling vintage auto "Race at the Base" features more than 200 classic cars racing a 1.6 mile course along North Island's runways. Spectators can also stroll through a bustling Vendor Village and Car Show.  
  • Also held in conjunction with San Diego Fleet Week, guests are invited to the NAS North Island Open House on September 23, the only Navy open house on the West Coast. This rare glimpse at the birthplace of naval aviation features free U.S. Navy Ship Tours, flyovers, performances by the Navy SEAL Leap Frogs parachute jump team and a multitude of military displays, including Navy jets and helicopters, vintage aircraft, boats and hovercraft.
  • During the 13th Annual Silver Strand Half Marathon and 5K on November 11, visitors can run, walk, rollerblade or roller-skate from Coronado to Imperial Beach along the scenic Silver Strand. Handcyclists and wheel chair participants are also welcome to participate.
For more Fall Activities in Coronado, click here.
  • A San Diego tradition "as American as apple pie" is the popular Annual Julian Fall Apple Harvest, September through October, celebrating this historic mountain town's famous homemade apple pies and ciders. Visitors can also enjoy acres of colorful fall foliage, apple picking in local orchards, charming bed and breakfast inns, art shows, quaint antique shops, horse-drawn carriage rides and live entertainment. 
  • The Julian Apple Days Festival on Oct. 6-7 at Menghini Winery features music and dancing, children's games and activities, gold panning demonstrations, a wine and beer garden, food and merchandise vendors, apple-related contests, the coronation of Mr. and Mrs. Apple Days and, of course, Julian's famous apple pies. The festival runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. The first 250 guests through the gate each day receive a free souvenir pie server.
  • Cooler temperatures and the picturesque desert landscape welcome visitors to the 47th Annual Borrego Days Desert Festival, Oct. 26-28, in Borrego Springs, East County's desert oasis town. This popular free celebration features a parade on Oct. 27 with marching bands, floats, classic cars, equestrian groups and Grand Marshal Ricardo Breceda, the local renowned artist who created the unique menagerie of eye-catching, metallic animal sculptures called Galleta Meadows ( ), located on the outskirts of town. The festival also includes the Miss Borrego pageant, live entertainment, a carnival, food vendors, a beer garden, pony rides, a classic car and motorcycle show and more.

  • Bratwurst, beer gardens and oompah bands can only mean one thing—Oktoberfest! A number of communities throughout San Diego County celebrate this traditional German holiday, but Oktoberfest in La Mesa, Oct. 5-7, and Oktoberfest in El Cajon, Sept. 28-30 and Oct. 5-7, are two of the largest festivals of their kind on the U.S. West Coast. Visitors can enjoy dancing, German food, Bavarian bands and hundreds of crafts and commercial booths along La Mesa Boulevard in La Mesa and Mollison Avenue in El Cajon.,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Trip Tip

Though summer is one-half over (sad but true), American Airlines offered some tips to ease your travels that you just might want to check out.  Go here.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

Photo by Cynthia Dial

"I came for the winters, but stayed for the summers."
A local of Aspen, CO

Friday, August 3, 2012

And the Winner Is . . .

Jane Arrington will be receiving Crabtree & Evelyn's Himalayan Blue gift set.  Thanks for following me, Jane!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Travel Gift for You!

A travel gift from me to one of you who signs up to follow my blog,, by noon August 3.  The selection will be held randomly and scientifically (I’ll wear a blindfold and point to the screen). 

Here’s the gift.  The iconic bath & body brand Crabtree & Evelyn is releasing a new collection inspired by the world renowned Himalayas called Himalayan Blue.  Though this new scented collection isn’t available to the public until September, I have an advanced gift package including Himalayan Blue Eau de Toilette (value $45) and Himalayan Blue Bath and Shower Gel (value $22), which I will send to you next week.  I'll announce the winner on my blog August 3, so look for it so that you can provide me with your mailing address (my expense if within the U.S.).
Ladies, it would be a wonderful gift for you; and guys, one for your lady.  And I’ll get new followers to my travel blog.  Good luck and thanks for your support!

May I Introduce You to Door County?

Door County.  Where?  Should this question be your response, you are not in the minority.  But should you overlook Door County, called the Cape Cod of the Midwest, you are making a mistake.
Go here to learn more.