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Popular travel guide book series Lonely Planet has released their lists of “Top Ten Countries” and “Top Ten Cities” for the coming year.

Some of these “hot” destinations will be out of reach for most of us (Malaysia, Nepal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, etc.) but some are surprisingly accessible. According to the experts, this just might be the year to visit Germany, Greece, Portugal, Charleston (South Carolina), or Cork (Ireland).

I’m especially pleased to see two of my planned 2010 destinations on the list — I’ll be visiting Cuenca, Ecuador in May and Vancouver, Canada in July!

And, if you’re interested in the “Best Value Destinations” for 2010, Lonely Planet has a list for that too. It includes such popular spots as Mexico, London and Las Vegas. I absolutely concur that there are bargains to be found in all three of those destinations, so give me a call and we’ll have you on your way!

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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!

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