Because the world is still big!

Archive for the ‘Travel Tips’ Category


A letter is a powerful tool

Posted in Free Stuff, Travel Tips  by Traveler on June 12th, 2009

A while ago, I wrote an article with the title  When everything else fails, call headquarters”. This article talks about how sometimes it is best to skip the middle man and complain directly with the company headquarter if there any issued with booking, hotels, etc.

Following my own advice, I decided to send a letter to West Gage Resorts corporate offices to complain about what happened when I went to their sales presentation.

I sent two identical letters, one to the company owner, Mr. David Siegel and another to Mr. James Gissy, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales. To my surprise, 3 days after I’ve sent the letter, I received a call from Michele Colaci, Sr. Director of Specialty Marketing.

Michelle was very professional, and I could tell she had a genuine intention of make things right. For once, she immediately acknowledged that I was grossly misled with the information I’ve received. She also explained to me that it was a third party vendor the one responsible for the marketing material I had received, but after my letter she send out a memo to all third party vendor informing them that West Gate would now allows this type of misleading practice to go on.

Michelle offered me a two night stay at their resort and two ticket to any Orlando park free of charge to compensate me for all the troubles, which I accepted.

In two weeks, I’ll be in Orlando enjoying the free accommodations and tickets.

This goes to show you once more, that a letter is a powerful tool if you send it to the right person, so don’t give up on your complains. I must also comment West Gate Resorts for making things right.


Tags: , , , , , ,


No more “are we there yet?”

Posted in Free Stuff, Money Saving Tips, Travel Tips  by Traveler on May 21st, 2009



With summer vacation fast approaching, most parents are already making plans to take a road trip, or visit their favorite vacation spot with their kids. We prepare psychologically to deal with the “are we there yet?” or “I am bored” nagging from our kids because we all know that those classic road games that we used to play when we were kids, would not be enough to entertain our kids nowadays. For this reason, I have put together a list of free resources for parents who are planning road trips with their kids this summer. The list include places where you can legally download free music, videos, audio books and many other digital content guarantee to entertained your kids during the long drive.A couple of things about this list:

  • First, I am assuming that you own at least one of the following:
  1. An iPod, or any other Mp3 players
  2. A portable DVD player or any other portable media player that can play videos, music or both.
  3. A cell phone, PDA or any other device that can display text or PDF files.
  4. A portable CD Player
  • Second, all the content I am providing complies with copyright laws, meaning that the files are either public domain, or the owner had agree to share his/her work.
  • Third, all the content is free and safe to download (no virus, spyware, etc.)
  • Forth, no subscription is necessary to download this content, in some cases you might need to create a free account with the site, but you don’t have to subscribe to any services nor pay to download the material.

 This said, here is the list of FREE electronic content you can download and bring with you on your next trip.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


The power of blogs

Posted in Travel Tips  by Traveler on January 29th, 2009

I recently read an article about how bloggers are changing the travel industry for the better. Many of us who write about travel, like to express our opinion on places we have visited Sometimes I review hotels I have stayed in and give my personal opinion about my experience in that particular hotel.  This might seem something insignificant as it is just my personal opinion, yet the article mentions that nowadays executives from major hotel chains and other travel related business are paying more attention to what bloggers say about their business.

In my case, although I haven had any major issue that has been resolved thanks to an entry in my blog, I have received a couple of emails from large companies asking me to correct something I wrote about them in one of my blog entries. If I was wrong about what I wrote, I do correct the entry and post the right information.

For me, this blog is more about sharing my passion for traveling than trying to fix the industry, but I do not mind giving people advice on how to solve issues they might encountered on a hotel or other places.

For most of us, traveling is a pleasure and our opinion should count on how the travel industry conduct its business, after all they wouldn’t be here if it wouldn’t for all of us who love to travel.


Tags: , ,


Most boring cities in the US

Posted in Travel Tips, Vacations  by Traveler on January 14th, 2009

Vacations are supposed to be fun, but if by any chance you pick one of these 10 cities to visit, you’ll find yourself with very little to do and a lot of time to kill.

Using media reports from several sources, Forbes Magazine picked the top 10 more boring cities in the US. The cities were picked because of lack of news from those cities. In other words, nothing happen that was newsworthy in any of these towns.

I am not sure if this type of evaluation is valid, but at least it is fun to read.

Here there are

#1 Chula Vista, Calif.
Population: 217,478
The midway point between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, rarely makes national news, but when it does, it’s often in stories about the region’s border tensions. How many people even knew Chula Vista was one of the country’s 100 largest cities?

#2 Hialeah, Fla.
Population: 212,217
Hialeah, in the Miami metropolitan area, barely exists as an independent city in the eyes of the national media. Many stories featuring an appearance of Hialeah discussed the impact of the city’s Cuban-American population on the presidential election in Florida

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , ,


Gran Melia Puerto Rico Review

Posted in Travel Tips, Vacations  by Traveler on December 1st, 2008

We had a wonderful time in Puerto Rico. With the exception of missing our flight and having to wait over 8 hours at the airport, the trip was perfect.

Gran Melia Puerto Rico - Hotel Review

We arrived at the hotel almost at 1:30 AM. I’ve called reservation to let them know I was doing a late check in, so there was not issue at all when we arrived.

 The hotel is just beautiful. The lobby area is huge, with plenty of places to sit and relax. It has several water fountains and ponds that give you the sensation of being in a truly tropical place.

The room was very clean and spacious. It includes a balcony and sitting area. Although our room was not ocean front, you could see the beach from the balcony. The beach is less than 50 meters away.

The staff was very courteous and helpful. They can provide you with maps and driving directions to all the mayor attractions in the area and even to farther places like San Juan (the hotel is about 45 minute drives from the Airport and about 1 hour from San Juan)

Grand Melia Puerto Rico is not a traditional hotel .The rooms are villages grouped in units of 4 to 6 each (three on the bottom and three on the second floor) There are not elevators and you cannot park in front of your village, instead you must park near the lobby or the casino and they will take you to your room in a golf card. If you don’t want to walk you must wait for the golf car to pick you up and take you back to the car. They pass by frequently or you can call the front desk and ask them to send someone to pick you up.

The hotel also have separate villages, most of them ocean front, that are reserved for the Royal Service category. Meaning you pay more, but they also assign you a butler to take care of your every need. These Royal Service villages come with a private outdoor Jacuzzi and you have access to a pool that is also reserved for guests using the Royal Service.  

The casino is small, but clean. You can drink all you want for free as long as you are playing.

Parking is expensive. I can’t believe they charge $16.00 a day for self parking or $25.00 for valet parking. I can understand when hotels located in the middle of a mayor city where parking space is scarce charge for parking, but in this case there was plenty of parking space within the hotel property to justify the charges. On top of that, you must validate your parking ticket every time you leave the hotel.

The hotel has three restaurants. One with Italian food, the other with mix American and Caribbean food and the third one is an outdoor restaurant by the pool which opens only during the day (it serves mostly hamburgers, sandwitchis and salads). Food in Puerto Rico is expensive compare to other places like Miami. On average, be prepared to pay around $30 per person every time you eat out. The restaurants at the hotels are of course even more expensive. Forget about ordering room services, unless you are willing to pay $15.00 for a hamburger (no fries included).

We ate twice at the hotel and the food was decent, but not outstanding.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , ,


Fun before your cruise

Posted in Cruises, Travel Tips  by Traveler on October 29th, 2008

In the different travel forums I visit, I find a lot of people asking questions about what to do or where to go the day before leaving for a cruise that departures from either Fort Lauderdale or Miami. I believe that being stuck in a hotel for hours watching bad cable movies is no way to start a wonderful vacation, so I have created a list of places you can go for fun the day or night before your cruise.

Since I live in South Florida, I am very familiar with all these places and I have been to every single one of them, so my recommendations are first hand.


Night time:

Bayside Marketplace
401 Biscayne Blvd., R106
Miami, Florida  33132-1924

Bayside Miami

Bayside Miami

Bayside is a beautiful marketplace in Downtown Miami. You can find everything in there from free live music, to restaurants, shops and nightclubs. There are also a couple of party boats that take you out to the intercostals waters for two hours. From these boats you can see Star Island where many famous artists such as Gloria Stephan, Julio Iglesias and other have their homes.
If you want to experience latin cousine, Bayside is the place to go. They have several Cuban, Brazilian and Argentinean restaurants right by the water. Their prices are very reasonable. American food is also available. The place is kids friendly and full of fun.
The place is very safe, however you shouldn’t wonder around the downtown area at night.
Bayside is right next to the Port of Miami. Most shops close around midnight, but the nightclubs and restaurants are open until 1:00 AM.

Bayside Market Place is also open during the day.


Day Time:

Miami has several places you can visit during the day, and they are all relative close to the Port of Miami.

Here are some suggestions:

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , ,


When everything else fails, call headquarters

Posted in Travel Tips  by Traveler on September 9th, 2008

How many times have you booked a flight, rented a car or hotel room only to discover out later on that what you were promised is not what you got?  Perhaps they are trying to charge you more, or give you different hotel room or deny that free car upgrade you got online. If you call the customer service department of any of those online reservation sites most likely you would get nowhere. Most front line customer care staffs have very little authority to issue a refund, or get your problem solved. So what is the alternative? Contact the company corporate office if everything else fails.

Big companies hate bad publicity, and they know that it only takes a dissatisfied customer to post something negative on a blog or a forum to create an avalanche or negative press.

But the problem with contacting any corporate office is that it is hard to find their phone number. Many times their own front line staff doesn’t know it or are not allowed to give it to customers. Your other alternative is search it online, or discovered it buried in some obscure web page in the company’s website.

I have compiled a list of the 4 most popular online travel sites (Expedia, Travelocity, Price Line and Orbitz) corporate contact information (actually the number is even higher considering that Expedia owns, Trip Advisor, and Hotwire) When possible I provide the top executive phone numbers or email address.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , ,