Saturday, January 31, 2015

Travel News - California's Highest Priced Hotel Sell - Montage Laguna Beach

Travel News: Montage Laguna Beach sells for $360 million, shattering California's record, which works out to more than a $1.4 million price tag per room.

Photos by Cynthia Dial

#travel #traveltips #travelnews #travelingcynthia #montagelagunabeach

Friday, January 30, 2015

Travel News - On-time Airlines - Air Berlin

Travel News: In 2014, Air Berlin, Germany's second largest airline, achieved a new punctuality record, at 85.7 percent, ranking it in the world's 10 most punctual airlines.  Excited to know that my upcoming Air Berlin flight in March will be on time.  Plus, I can't wait for another opportunity to have one of the airline's addictive pretzels (accompanied by a beer, of course).  Cheers!

Photos by Cynthia Dial

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #airberlin #punctualairlines #ontimeairlines

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Top Five Secrets to Savvy Travel

Excerpted from Condé Nast Traveler

Time it Right

Fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday.
Traveling on off-peak days – and at off-peak times – means lower fares, a less crowded cabin and a greater chance of snagging those elusive mileage-award seats.  Taking two days off for a long weekend?  Instead of a Thursday to Sunday or a Friday to Monday trip, save money by flying on a Saturday and returning on a Tuesday.
Photo by Cynthia Dial

Hop Between Cities at Midday.
When you’re traveling through Europe or Asia and need to get from one city to another, consider scheduling transportation for the middle of the day.  If you leave at dawn, you miss the sunrise – ideal for photography and observing locals – and reach your destination at midday, when temperatures are highest, the lights is at its worst for photos and it’s too early to check into your hotel.  (You may also have to fight rush-hour commuters and miss a breakfast that is included in your rate.)

Visit Islands During Shoulder Season.
Peak-season rates on islands often reflect nearby countries’ vacation schedules rather than the best time to visit (Bali’s hotels, for instance, fill up with Japanese in early May and with Australians in January).  In low season, many businesses shut down.  Shoulder season – when crowds are thinner but the weather is still good – is the solution.

Find the Hidden Deals

Sign Up for E-mail Notifications.
The best airfare and hotel sales are largely unannounced.  Airlines and hotel companies target specific subsets of travelers – loyalty program members, holders of certain credit cards, people who’ve registered on their Web sites – and alert them by e-mail.  To keep your in-box from being bombarded, get a dedicated e-mail address for such alerts and check it when you’re ready to start planning your next trip.  If you can make quick purchasing decisions, sign up for alerts from flash-sale sites that sell hotel rooms at discounts of 40 percent or more, such as Jetsetter and Tablet Hotels.

Find the Right Human Beings

Get the Best Room for Your Dollar
At luxury properties, rates vary substantially according to occupancy. A room could be $350 one week because there’s a big group and $250 the next because nobody’s coming.  For top-end hotels that have on-site reservation desks, call and ask the manager when, during your travel window, the hotel will be emptiest and thus have the lowest rates.  Then ask something like, “If I come on that date, would there be a chance of an upgrade to ocean-view?”

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #secretstosavvytravel #traveltuesday

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Food Lovers Odyssey Offers Painting and Cooking Lessons on Boutique Vacations to Tuscany or Provence

TUSCANY & PROVENCE (Jan. 21, 2015) – Imagine this: savoring beauty, cuisine, tranquility, vine covered country sides, and dappling light while developing new talents in Provence or Tuscany. It all becomes real through several new painting and cooking vacations offered in English this May, June and September.

 Photo by Cynthia Dial
No culinary or artistic experience is required to enjoy these Food Lovers Odyssey vacations, which are limited to only a dozen people so that all guests receive personal attention and superb service.

The painting and cooking vacations are set for:

Provence: May 23-30, 2015 (enjoy the thermal baths of Aix; boat tour of the Calanques; explore villages, old Roman cities and ruins; savor salty scents of coastal towns; gaze at the amazing light, which changes from gold to pink to violet/$4,150)

Tuscany: June 6-13 and September 26 through October 3, 2015 (visit Tuscan villages of Radda, Castellina, San Gimignano, Pienza; drive through Val d’Orcia and its golden fields dotted with farmhouses and Cypress trees; pasta-making class with an Italian mamma; gelato stops!/$3,950)

Travelers may add a quick trip to Florence before their Tuscan adventure:
Florence: June 4-6 and September 24-26, 2015 (visit the famous Uffizi Gallery and more while staying at a luxury boutique hotel in the center of Florence/$495)

All on-sight costs are included – luxury villa accommodations, gourmet meals (with fine wine), classes, excursions (colorful local markets, pastry shops, olive oil farms), walking and boat tours, wine and guided food tastings, and airport transfers. Airfare is paid directly by guests, who are arriving from international destinations.

The gatherings feature lessons by Le Cordon Bleu of Paris-trained chef Kathy Ayer and accomplished fine artist and instructor Melanie Brannan. Ayer spends much of her time in Europe teaching classes and leading week-long culinary tours. She has worked in patisseries, pastry kitchens and cooking schools in Paris, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Southern France and Italy, where she still has family. Brannan teaches painting to both novices and advanced students. Her commissioned fine art hangs in luxury homes in addition to public exhibits. She also worked in graphic design for major consumer brands for many years.

Guests travel home with new skills, personal paintings, tasty recipes, inspiration and happy memories. More details and pricing are available at:, or

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Travia - Thailand - World's Largest

Travia: Thailand is home to the world's largest gold Buddha, the largest crocodile farm, the largest restaurant, the longest single-span suspension bridge, and the world's tallest hotel.
#travel #travia #traveltips #travelingcynthia #thailand #worldslargest #buddha #goldenbuddha

Monday, January 5, 2015

Guam for the Holidays

By Cynthia Dial
For Mabuhay, in-flight magazine for Philippine Airlines

Forget the classic visions of Christmas as a winter wonderland.  Think beyond the jingling bells on sleighs plowing through the snow and the crackling of log fires while hot mugs of cocoa are sipped.  Instead, envision holiday time in Guam where toes are snuggled into the sand, not snow boots, and the small island’s traditional sense of family envelops locals and guests alike in a welcoming warmth more comforting than any crackling fire.

In synch with its island location, December in Guam showcases all that is uniquely special about this tiny Pacific getaway – 30 miles long and four to nine miles wide (translation: ¾ the size of Singapore) – whose largest ethnic groups are native Chamorros at 37 percent, followed by a 26 percent Filipino population.

Guam is all about family, but never more so than during the holidays.  Håfa adai” you’re graciously greeted upon arrival.  It means ‘hello.’  As one transplanted resident said of this celebratory season: “Guam’s festivities usher in the Christmas spirit, even though the weather doesn’t.  It’s the season when you may not know everyone at a gathering, but you still feel like you’re family.” 
So, follow me through the seasonal scene that is Guam. 

People’s procession – December 8 is a national holiday in honor of Guam’s patron saint, Santa Marian Kamalen.  As most of Guam’s Chamorro and Filipino population are Roman Catholic, thousands flock to Hagåtña’s Cathedral-Basilica to participate in the processional loop around the island’s capital.  Led by the revered 300-year-old wooden statue of the saint, this is the only time the “real” statue is displayed outdoors.  While the island is known for its religious festivals honoring the patron saints of Guam’s 19 villages, this gathering is by far the largest.  Tip: Arrive early if you wish to join the 3:30 p.m. rosary and novena inside the cathedral, preceding the 4 p.m. procession.

Just add water – Sporting some of the year’s best weather, December is a bit cooler, lower in humidity and features average temps of 85F.  For surfers there’s a special perk, as the month’s higher winds and larger waves serve up “Christmas surf.”  With the daily promise of great waves somewhere on the island, surfing is one of Guam’s prime attractions.  Here’s some inside info: A good beach for beginners is Inarajan Bay; Talofofo Beach has consistently good surf along its black sand shore and Malesso Beach’s exposed coral reefs and oversized wave action best appeals to the xtreme sport crowd.  Tip: Surfing schools (as well as rental equipment) are plentiful in the tourist areas of Tumon and Hagåtña.

Warm days, cool deals – Does your Christmas list include such high-end brands as Louis Vuitton and Ferragamo?  If your head’s nodding as quickly as your toes are tapping, go to T Galleria and Tumon Sands Plaza, both stylish backdrops for top-of-the-line retail therapy.  The best news for the shop-till-you-drop crowd is that the peak of Shop Guam Festival 2014 coincides with the month of December.  Running November 1, 2014 through January 12, 2015 and noted as the Western Pacific’s biggest annual shopping event, Guam’s legendary tax-free shopping is additionally enhanced with more than 200 special offers and discounts for retail, dining and entertainment.  Tip: Festival coupon booklets and mobile app shopping guides are widely distributed and available in six languages.

Lights, cameras, action – If Christmas is about bright lights and shiny surprises that knock your stockings off, Guam doesn’t disappoint.  Colorful lights, decorated trees, delectable sweets and contagious holiday cheer appear like surround-sound from the Government House in Hagåtña to the island’s shopping areas, including Tuman Shopping District and Micronesia Mall.  This is the time of year when the island’s spirit is in high-octane mod, illustrated by such made-only-in-Guam moments as encounters with Mr. and Mrs. Claus (perhaps in tropical shirts and shorts) and Santa’s arrival (possibly by caribou).  It’s said parts of the island are so well lit, inflight passengers can see the light displays when landing at the airport during the holidays.  Tip: Don’t miss Wednesday Night’s Market in Chamorro Village for its food, souvenirs, fellowship and fun – a festive kick-off to the season.
Postcard to the Pole – Dear Santa: “Isle be seeing you.”