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Jun '05

Popular North American Skiing Resorts in 2004-2005

Whilst it is always going to be difficult to tell ahead of the snow which ski resorts will be offering the best runs in any given year, certain ski resorts in North America remain more popular than others no matter what happens with the snow. So, if you’re thinking of a North American skiing holiday this winter, here are some of the ski resorts you might want to check out (in no particular order):

* Aspen, Colorado, USA
Possibly as well know as the being the Mecca of the jet-set and famous as for its skiing, Aspen has four (not connected) mountains and steeps in which to ski. This ski resort accommodates for all levels of skier, from the pro to the novice, and is the resort of choice for many.

* Banff / Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Ranking as possibly the most picturesque ski resort in North America, Banff ski resort is located in the heart of Canada’s Banff National Park. With Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise all within easy reach of this ski resort, many have argued that you don’t need to be an ace skier before deciding to come here: the sheer magnificence of the views are enough on their own to attract you to this most delightful part of the world.

* Stowe, Vermont, USA
Based around Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak, Stowe is always a popular choice (as a ski resort) as it has close to 100 shops and over 50 restaurants. It also offers more to the holiday-maker than just traditional skiing. For those serious about their skiing however, Stowe is also one of the few resorts in North America that lift-links to other resorts.

* Mount Tremblant, Quebec
Mount Tremblant is Canada’s oldest ski resort – originally opened in 1939. However, a recent facelift has meant that this resort is now unrecognizable from what it was of old. Whilst the skiing here is good, the area is also well-known for its close proximity to other ski resorts and locations; for example, Montreal is only an hour away. Also, this resort is seen as being one of the most relaxing on the North American circuit.

* Vail, Colorado, USA
With over 5,300 acres of ski slopes, Vale is the largest single ski resort in the USA. It also, however, has the fastest high-speed detachable quads on one mountain! Add to that the sheer number of art galleries, museums, snowmobiling, ice skating, etc. activities that can be done here and it is not hard to see why Vail, Colorado is seen as the USA’s favourite ski resorts.

* Whistler/Blackcomb, Canada
Whistler ski resort was voted the number one global ski resort for the 2003-2004 season and one look at this exquisite ski village will tell you why. A purpose built resort (30 years ago there was nothing here!), the resort contains over 100 restaurants alone! On the skiing front, the two mountain peaks that make-up the backdrop of this resort are seen as excellent for skiing and snowboarding (note- not all North American resorts will allow you to snowboard). If you plan to come here though, you’ll need to book up early as this resort really is considered the world’s greatest ski resort!

Jun '05

Travel Tips : Before You Go

Travelling anywhere new for the first time is always going to be a thrilling experience. However, to ensure that you have the best of possible times, it is always useful to make sure that you have planned for your journey before you go. To help you do this: here are 6 useful travel tips of things to do before you go on holiday.

1. Get the required immunizations
There’s nothing worse than falling sick when you’re on holiday. However, if you are entering an environment that is alien to the one that your body is normally used to, it becomes easier for infection to penetrate your immune system, as your immune system is not expecting an attack in that form. As such, always make sure that you have the required immunization shots. Also remember that in some vacations spots, visiting a local doctor may not fill you with over confidence.

2. Get the right visa and make sure your passport is up-to-date
It is always essential that you enter a country on the correct visa. Making sure that you have the appropriate visa should, therefore, be one of your primary goals before you depart. Also, you should keep in mind that some countries do not allow foreign resident/nationals to enter their country if the duration remaining on the visitor’s passport is less than one year. Consequently, if you have one year or less remaining on your passport, please make sure that you are not going to have any problems with this when you arrive.

3. Book your hotel before you leave
There’s nothing worse than sleeping on a park bench. However, sleeping on a park bench in a country you don’t know has to be the ultimate low. To avoid this you need to make sure that you book your hotel accommodation before you arrive in the place you’re visiting. Also, to make sure that you’ll have no problems with this, double confirm your booking 24 to 48 hours before you arrive at the hotel in question.

4. Make sure you’re fully insured
Overseas trips can become very expensive if anything goes wrong. To avoid this you can pay a small premium and obtain holiday insurance. The sort of holiday insurance you should be looking to get would include insuring your travel money; your health; and, in the event that you are going to drive, car insurance.

5. Make sure your methods of payment are going to be acceptable – not all countries are willing to accept credit card and/or travelers’ checks.
In order to have a good time, you’ll likely need to spend money. However, you should not assume that because your credit cards work in your home country they are automatically going to work overseas. Likewise, don’t assume that your ATM card is necessarily going to work. You need to check with your bank that both of these facilities are going to be available to you (and, as far as ATMs are concerned, it’s a good idea to get some idea of how many machines may be at your convenience). In this regard, you should also check that your travelers’ checks are going to be freely accepted. Some countries are reluctant to accept travelers’ checks drawn on banks that might charge them a commission for processing the check. As such, check this.

6. Finally, try and talk with someone who has recently visited
Finally, to make sure you don’t miss anything off your list of things to do, try and talk with someone who has recently visited the place in question to see if there have been any recent developments that you should be aware of. A good resource for this is the Internet.

Beautiful Laos is one of the prettiest countries in Southeast Asia but also one of the least visited. This is a real shame as Laos has just as much to offer travelers as other big-hitter countries like Thailand or Vietnam. Check out the 10 best places to visit in Laos. The country is small and landlocked so it has no coastline, but it is known for its spectacular limestone mountains which offer you amazing opportunities to go trekking and explore eerie karst formations and caves.

Jun '05

15 Online Hotel Reservation Tips

With more and more hotel reservations being made online these days it is always going to be difficult to tell whether or not the hotel is going to be any good before you arrive – by which time it is usually too late to change your mind if you don’t like the place! To help you out here, the following are 15 tips to online reservations that should help to ensure that you make the right hotel reservation.

Before booking the hotel online, always check the following:
1. will you stay in a single, twin or double room? Some online hotels advertise all three; however, they don’t specify which you’ll have until you arrive. To avoid any disappointment, make sure this issue is clear from the beginning.
2. does the hotel have room service and restaurant facilities? A lot of hotels advertising online do not offer room service. Moreover, whilst many may state they have a restaurant, it later transpires this is only for breakfast – not for lunch and dinner. If these are going to be important to you, check this out carefully.
3. telephone, cable television, on-suite bathroom and 24-hour front desk service. Again, a number of hotels that advertise online do not have direct telephones to your room, cable television, nor do they have on-suite bathrooms. Furthermore, a number will not have front desk service during periods of the night, which may be an important amenity if you need to book out late at night.
4. smoking and non-smoking rooms. A number of European hotels do not differentiate their smoking and non-smoking rooms. If you are a non-smoker, make sure you let the hotel know this at the time you make the booking.
5. sports facilities. More and more these days having gym, pool and spa facilities is an important aspect of your stay and they even have the best pumps for keeping the pool clean from this article source online.

Booking Your Room
Before you book the room, you need to be asking yourself the following questions:
6. does the hotel accept your credit card? Paying by credit card should help to protect you if you experience any problems.
7. what is the hotel check out time – and, importantly, is there any time of the day when you will be excluded access to your room (for cleaning, etc. purposes)?
8. does the hotel have a safety-deposit box?
9. is the room charge net or gross local sales tax? – many hotels do not include tax in their advertised room rates, which can make for a surprise when it comes to time to settle the bill.
10. will you be charged a fee if you cancel the booking nearer the time?

Local Amenities And Sight-seeing
It’s no use having a cheap hotel if you’re going to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere. As such, before booking your reservation online, check out the following:

11. where’s the nearest train and/or subway station?
12. does the hotel have taxi or limousine service?
13. are there other hotels in the nearby area?
14. are there any major landmarks nearby?
15. are there any restaurants, shops, and supermarkets nearby?

Assuming that the answers to most of the above comply with your needs, it should be safe to go ahead and make the booking. However, always make sure you take a look at the photographs of the rooms before making your final decision and be cautious of any hotel which doesn’t have photos of its rooms available on its internet site. Also make sure that you keep your online booking reference close to-hand.