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Any Red Sox fans looking for a great baseball getaway?

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Check out this RedSox weekend package for July 31st to August 2nd.

Roundtrip transportation to Baltimore, two nights hotel, daily breakfast, two Red Sox/Baltimore games, raffles and movies en route, and more. All for less than $500 per person!

This will sell out quickly, so let me know ASAP if you’re interested. Go Sox!

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I may have blogged about this before, because it’s a pet peeve, but I think it’s worth re-visiting the ridiculous add-on fees that the airlines are charging these days — for everything from checked bags and aisle seats to food, drinks, blankets, pillows, and headsets.  One airline (Ryanair) is even considering installing pay toilets!

With so many constantly-changing fees, it can be hard to keep track of what you’ll really be paying for your flight. Especially when you’re trying to compare a low-cost, low-fee carrier like Southwest with one like JetBlue or Spirit (that can initially appear to be low-cost, until you add on the various surcharges).

Want some help keeing it all straight? USA Today published a nice chart today that summarizes the fees charged by the most popular domestic airlines. Just keep in mind that this information will probably be out of date by tomorrow, so be sure to call the airline directly to confirm the fees before you travel!

I have to admit, I’m not a big fan of Las Vegas. I don’t gamble, I hate the smell of smoke, and having to walk through a busy, loud casino to get anywhere is a bit overwhelming to me.

On the flip side, I do like the warm weather, the restaurants, the shows, and I enjoy an afternoon of strolling around the strip to check out the hotels and people-watch. So let’s just say I’m conflicted.

Well, I’m here in Vegas this week for a conference, and I discovered a whole new world that is much more appealing to me — Lake Las Vegas. It’s about 25-30 miutes away from the hustle and bustle of the strip, but it feels much more removed than that. You can stay at a luxury resort (Loews, Ritz-Carlton) on a lovely man-made lake, and enjoy swimming, golf, and even fishing (in the desert!) There’s a nice little village with shops, restaurants and a small casino, and you can even take a gondola ride on the lake.

The General Manager at the Loews Lake Las Vegas was telling me that they get a lot of families, who enjoy the beach, the water slide, and the kids camp — and that the parents will often leave the children with the camp for an evening to go and have a date night on the strip. Dinner, a show, etc. and then back to a beautiful lakefront resort…sounds just about perfect to me!

In any other year, if a client called me now, in mid-June, talking about going to Europe this summer (meaning, within the next six weeks or so), I would laugh. But this is a crazy year and I’ve been working on LOTS of last-minute trips for clients headed to Paris, London, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The economy, the swine flu scare, the recent glut of new hotels, resorts and cruise ships, and the airlines’ pricing strategies have combined to create a “perfect storm” for summer travel deals. And procrastinators are reaping the benefits!

This article on cnn.com sums it up nicely — and includes some excellent advice on how to best take advantage of this buyer’s market: 

Navigating the deals and best steals can be overwhelming, which is why turning to a travel agent for help can make a difference. A travel agent, for example, can sift through all the options, often secure different packages and can help prospective travelers figure out what destination is best for them.

“If you go to a professional, they can tell you what the traditional prices are … and give you some good old-fashioned advice,” said Ruthanne Terrero, a vice president in charge of content at The Travel Group.

I never thought of myself as a “tomgirl”, though I certainly played sports in high school and I do enjoy the outdoors. Granted, my vacations usually include some kind of soft adventure (kayaking, hiking, and such) but they are just as likely to include a “girly-girl” afternoon at a spa or a winery.

So I was not sure what I would think of the event I went to last night — the launch of a new tour company called “Tomgirl Tours“. Would they be promoting hard-core adventures for the very fit? Sleeping in tents? Doing without showers? The last could be a deal-breaker — as my husband will attest,  my hard and fast rule is that I won’t stay anywhere I can’t plug in my hairdryer.

I should never have worried!  These Tomgirl tours are right up my alley.

In 2009, for their launch year, they are offering week-long trips to Sedona and the island of St. John (USVI), as well as weekend getaways to Providence and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Each itinerary includes a well-balanced mix of soft adventure (hot-air balloon rides, snorkeling, ziplines, and even indoor skydiving) and interesting educational experiences (cooking classes, visits to artists’ galleries, an historic walking tour), BUT they also include time for outlet shopping, sun bathing, and some fabulous dining.

Best of all, it’s women-only. And it’s all-inclusive.  So instead of having to be on duty worrying about all the details for a family trip, we women can sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves with our girlfriends!

Their “Savory City Tour” will take place right in my own backyard, here in Providence and Newport, on July 31 – August 2, August 28 – 30, and September 18-20. In addition to spending two nights in a beautiful boutique hotel (the four-star Hotel Providence), it includes some absolutely priceless experiences, like a trolley tour of the city with former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, an al fresco cooking class, and an historic walking tour with local restaurateur Bob Burke. If you’re interested in a girls’ getaway in the Renaissance City, give me a call!

This past weekend was my annual “Girls’ Weekend” getaway with my mother and my two sisters, and we had a great time in Montauk (in The Hamptons, at the tip of Long Island).

Montauk #2

For me, getting there was half the fun, as it included three ferry rides and a scenic drive along some country roads. Total travel time was five hours each way, but a good portion of that was spent on a car ferry across Long Island Sound — so relaxing! I was able to sit on deck and read instead of fighting traffic.

We stayed at the Montauk Manor — a grand tudor mansion (turned condo resort) on a hilltop overlooking the water, but we also walked through another resort that I absolutely loved. The Montauk Yacht Club is a recently-renovated full-service resort with a marina, a small beach, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a spa, and more. This is where I want to stay next time! Preferably in one of their beachfront bungalows with private deck, built-in sunbed, and canvas curtains billowing in the breeze.

As you would expect, we spent most of our time window shopping, sitting by the pool, and eating some good meals. The highlight was our Saturday night dinner at Harvest on Fort Pond.  A chilled glass (or two) of Pinot Grigio…family-style dishes of seafood to share….lots of girl talk…and a picture-perfect sunset over the water.  We even watched some deer swim across the pond while the fish splashed right in front of our window. Ahhh!

Montauk sunset

The only question is, where should we go next year?

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