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A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words 'free service', 'apartments' just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the U...

London Apartments: Everything You Need To Know About Choosing A Serviced London Apartments

London Apartments: Everything You Need To Know About Choosing A Serviced London ApartmentsA few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words 'free service', 'apartments' just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realized that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travelers.What is a serviced apartment?A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help.just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio) Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying 250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at 62.50 per person. Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door. Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that's it. No deposits, no tenants' contracts.Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services. No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room. No pool, massages, saunas like hotelsWhat to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?1. Quality of the apartment make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.3. Opening time of the apartments office doesn't sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments' operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.4. Key delivery by car at the airport? If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don't expect to spend 80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had 300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (150 per night less than the usual price) for 300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.What if I don't like the apartment when I get there?If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focussed and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.Your appetite for apartments is now whetted how do you find London apartments?1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choicesall within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like 'London serviced apartments' or 'quality London apartments' and so on.3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.4. Check on Tripadvisor and other customer review websites.SummaryIf you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.

Travel Tips: Hitting The Links In St Kitts

Travel Tips: Hitting The Links In St Kitts

Much like other islands in the Caribbean, the tourism industry of St. Kitts has recently been courting the serious traveling golfer. With over 50 million devoted golfers worldwide and far more recreational players, Caribbean golf resorts are turning to golf as a focal point of their tourism efforts. According to published statistics, the traveling golfer, on business or vacation, both travels more often and spends approximately 35 percent more per trip than an average tourist.Throughout the entire Caribbean, the golf industry continues to grow at an incredible rate. Within the last 10 years, many of the worlds most recognized golf course architects have lent their skill to Caribbean soil, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Greg Norman and Peter Dye.In regards to St. Kitts, it certainly helps that the islands climate and environment are perfectly suited for such golf course construction. In addition to heavenly weather, everything from the jungles to the beaches remains remarkably well-preserved. With one of the centerpieces of St. Kitts tourism now in place, the coming years will see at least four new tournament quality courses. Here is an outline of what to expect in the future and some travel tips to make the most of your Caribbean golf vacation.At the heart of St. Kitts golf course development and tourism plans is the recently remodeled Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Developed in conjunction with the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino, the 6,900-yard, par 71 golf club majestically overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Designed by award-winning architect Thomas McBroom and essentially rebuilt atop an existing course of lesser renown, the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club has already established itself as the premier links-style course in the Caribbean.To accompany the beautifully updated course, the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club also has a luxurious new clubhouse with a restaurant and bar, locker rooms and a full-service pro shop. The Royal St. Kitts Golf Club will also house the Faldo Institute by Marriott, a state-of-the-art training and education facility. If that isnt enough for you, the Marriott Hotel has 648 guest rooms and suites, three swimming pools, the 35,000 square foot Royal Beach Casino and the 15,000 square foot Emerald Mist Spa.Slated to open in early 2007, the $14-million La Valle Golf Course designed by Charles Howard will be a traditional links layout coupled with impressive views of the Caribbean Sea, small neighboring islands and Mount Liamuiga, the islands highest point. In the future, this St. Kitts golf club will be surrounded by private villas, a new marina and a luxury hotel.In the Sandy Bank area, a $295 million Caribbean golf resort is scheduled to open in 2008. Besides the luxury hotel and its trimmings, the complex will include another much-anticipated championship course. With a layout designed by Rees Jones, brother of Robert Trent Jones Jr. and one of the leading golf course architects in his own right, the course is destined to be yet another gem in a growing collection of St. Kitts treasures.The most recently announced project is the Kittitian Heights Resort at Belmont Estate in northwestern St. Kitts, only 20 miles from the capital of Basseterre. The $195 million development is scheduled to open in 2011 and will include a course designed by Ian Woosnam, the former Masters Champion.On St. Kitts sister island of Nevis, the Four Seasons Caribbean Golf Resort is another great design by Robert Trent Jones Jr., one of the Caribbeans most active architects. Finished in 1991, the course certainly set the standard for things to come on the islands. Now, a new layout designed by renowned Canadian golf course architect Doug Carrick, scheduled to open in 2008, will carve a path through the coconut groves on the foothills of Mount Nevis.

The Preserve At Wolf Laurel

The Preserve At Wolf Laurel

Even though fall season is the ideal time to enjoy the prime of natures bounty, The Preserve at Wolf Laurel in Burnsville, North Carolina offers breathtaking views and scenic landscapes year round. Burnsville sits near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a small town of just under 1,700 residents and conveniently located near some of the countrys esteemed national parks. The Preserve at Wolf Laurel is a private residential community that offers plenty of opportunities to relax and enjoy a peaceful respite in this quaint community.Each season in Burnsville is celebrated with festival and fairs around the community. When the winter months bring cold weather and snow, the Wolf Laurel mountains offer ample opportunities to take in a weekend of skiing and snowboarding. Spring is the perfect opportunity to take part in the annual Burnsville Metric Bike Ride that criss-crosses through the hills, parks, and nature trails for a rewarding journey through the town and countryside. The arts and crafts festivals near The Preserve at Wolf Laurel kick off in late March to feature special events such as the Toe River Arts Councils Spring Studio Tour, the weekly farmers market, and a number of independent crafts shows and fairs. Hikers and golfers can enjoy the beautiful locations found at Mount Mitchell Golf Club, Reems Golf Club, and other small resorts throughout the area.Summer at The Preserve at Wolf Laurel affords travelers and residents an opportunity to take in the arts and community festivals throughout the warmer months. From picnics in the park to music festivals in the countryside, its easy to make a trip to the open-air theatre for some live entertainment. Visiting the area museums and craft shows is another popular activity throughout the area, and schedules are posted in the spring.Fall season is the most favorable season at The Preserve at Wolf Laurel, offering a splendid array of colors at the turn of the season. As the county counts down the days to Winterfest events in the town center, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the countryside, brave a hiking or mountain trail, or simply enjoy the weekly music festivals in the downtown area. The downtown area and marketplace are just a short drive from the Preserve, offering a hometown culture and festive atmosphere like no other.For those who have an interest in sightseeing, exploring, and nature excursions, Grandfather Mountain and Linville Falls are just a short drive form The Preserve at Wolf Laurel. These are ideal spots for touring and exploration, with tours and other attractions open to the public throughout the season. Mount Mitchell Park offers ample opportunities to enjoy the nature preserve and scenic views of the Mississippi River. The summit at Mount Mitchell Park offers a clear view of the Blue Ridge Mountains and lush green valleys, and is the perfect spot for a weekend picnic or excursion.With the rolling hills and mountains of North Carolina and a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, The Preserve at Wolf Laurel is an idyllic setting to enjoy the best of nature with all the luxuries and amenities of a premier resort. The private, gated mountain community covers 1,300 acres with miles of trails throughout the Appalachian Mountains. From white water rafting to fishing and guided adventures, The Preserve at Wolf Laurel is a prime spot to enjoy the best of Burnsville and the surrounding area.Find out more at http://www.livesouth.com/north-carolina/preserve-wolf-laurel

Paraiso De La Bonita Riviera Maya Mexico

Paraiso De La Bonita Riviera Maya Mexico

From the moment we arrived at the airport, to the wonderfully reassuring sight of a man, our man, standing with a board and our names were on it, it was impeccable service all the way. Our driver, in a lovely Lincoln Navigator, offered us not only water, but cold wet towels, and our choice of music for the short drive to Paraiso de la Bonita.Now we are talking about an expensive resort here so we would expect great service from the staff at the "Paraiso de la Bonita" , and we were not disappointed. It would be true to say the service was attentive, and understated, in fact exactly what to expect from this standard of resort.I have to say we were probably lucky because our visit was in May, and low season had arrived, so we were upgraded to a luxury suite with the works, not to put too fine a point on it. The suite had a king sized bed, and a plunge pool which was the icing on the cake. A great bathroom, with large tub and shower, good toiletries, nice sitting room.The staff were excellent, in that they were very friendly although the service could be a little slow at times, despite the fact I understand the ratio is two staff to one guest. Anything you need they are more than glad to supply. They remember your name, bring you gifts each night on your pillow.The beach is very sheltered by the reef, so there isnt much in the way of waves, and that I believe was the cause of the amount of seaweed, although the beach was cleaned every morning. Sadly the weed kind of prevented you from swimming off the beach.To be fair we didnt use the beach much, because there is a large deck to lie out on, and you can swim off that and there is no seaweed.The food at Paraiso was great. We were very impressed with the menus and enjoyed what they offered. The Guacamole and Risotto were especially good and fresh. The wine selection is good, and the variety of food throughout the day is great..Free tea and coffee was served daily in the library which was a really cool place to chill out in, have a drink, read and use the internet for free.The pool was surrounded by luscious plants and had a large jaccuzzi tub in as well comfortable sunloungers as wide as a double bed. The cocktails and service were great from the pool bar, which had a great atmosphere especially around sunset where people congregated for pre dinner drinks.Overall the Paraiso de la Bonita is well worth staying at.

Unwind Yourself On Your Relax Vacation

Going to a spa is the perfect way to unwind and revive yourself while you are on your relax vacation. There are different kinds of spas and you can be assured of finding one that seems to be tailor made for your particular needs.The Aveda Spa at Alexis Hotel - You can choose from a total body massage, which starts from $ 45, to the special Himalayan Rijuvenation Body Treatment at approximately $125. This treatment is a holistic rejuvenation treatment using both herbs and aromatherapy. There is also the Total Body Elixir Treatment, which costs about $75. Should you want to continue your treatments after going home, then you can buy the skin care products that are sold at the Spa.Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa - This spa gives you a choice of fitness and health services. Private treatment rooms are available where hydrotherapy, mineral soaks as well as Swedish and Sports massages are offered. In addition to healing rubs, total body composition analysis and fitness evaluation can be had here.Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa on Maui - This famous spa offers a variety of treatments in its facility which spans 50,000 square feet. With a choice of five aromatic baths, all the benefits of aromatherapy, which is a multifaceted art, are available to you. The Spa however is famous for the Term Wailea Hydrotherapy. For about $500, you can indulge yourself and your partner in a Sandalwood Serenity wrap, which is a Speciality Bath for two, and then have a side-by-side massage for the two of you. This treatment at the Spa Grande is sure to completely revive you and relax you.Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea at New Castle - The complimentary beverages which are served in the relaxation room set the right note to the kind of pampering that you can expect at this wonderful spa. Facial treatments, which include the French Ogenage Facial and the Royal Gentleman's Facial, are offered, as also are Paraffin hand treatments. Warm stones, aromatic essential oils along with Reiki are all used in combination to give massages that are truly relaxing. There are special maternity massages that are totally safe for mothers to be.Sandy Lane Resort of Barbados- With a price tag of just $220, the Dr.Hauschka Classic Treatment is a perfect way to rejuvenate your skin in two hours. There is also the complete spa treatment over six hours which starts with a water massage, and then a hydrotherapy bath which precedes a body massage, aromatherapy facial, exercises for complete relaxation followed by manicures and pedicures.

Taking The Family On Holidays

Avid travelers are full of wanderlust and refuse to give up their love for exploring the world, even when busy raising a family. And why should they? Traveling with children can be a joy and taking the family on holidays near and far can produce a lifetime of unforgettable memories.Its true, however, that enjoying a vacation with kids is a bit different than an all-adult excursion. Thats not necessarily a bad thing! Traveling with children requires a bit more thought and you may be slightly restricted as to your choice of destination. But all the other perks of introducing your children to different world cultures far outweigh the sacrifices you may need to make until they grow up and you can venture off on your own once again.Finding the Best Fit for Your FamilyWhere you choose to take your family on holiday can depend on lots of factors including your preference of activities, like sightseeing, sporting/active pursuits, cultural opportunities, and so forth. Begin your search for a good holiday destination by considering the things youd like to do while youre away from home. These may be activities you enjoy on a regular basis or things you rarely get to do except when youre on vacation. Are you: An adventurous family? If so, choose a destination where you can participate in fun and daring activities like trekking, climbing, diving, jet boating, and camping under the stars. (Provided the age of your children can support these activities.) You may be just the right family for an African safari or a trip to South Americas Andes Mountains. Closer to home, your family may be ideal for a camping trip through the National Parks or a whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River. An artsy, cultural family? If so, select a vacation destination that can provide your fill of cultural activities. Big cities are always ideal, because you can usually find plenty of museums, theaters, concert venues, and such. Try one of the great cities of North America, like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, or Vancouver. Or, if you prefer, choose a wonderful, historic European city, like London, Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow, Barcelona, or Budapest. All have something a little different to offer. A fun-loving family? If so, youll want to travel to a destination where your family can play together from morning til night. Maybe you enjoy amusement and water parks, taking in a local major league sporting event, playing volleyball on the beach, tobogganing through the snow, or taking part in fun and unique local festivals. There are a number of wonderful places for fun-seeking families to visit including resorts like Walt Disney World or the other Disney properties, the wacky beaches of Southern California, or even a quaint ski village in the Alps. The beauty of being a fun-loving family is that you can probably turn just about any vacation into a rollicking good time for all! Age-Appropriate HolidaysThe ages of your kids will help determine where you head for your next holiday. Teenagers can do just about anything.but will they? Be sure you allow your fickle teenager to be a part of the planning so that when you arrive at your destination, theyll be looking forward to participating in the activities theyve read about during the planning process. Be ready to compromise. Your teens first choice may not be yours, but perhaps you can find a destination that has a little something for both of you.Traveling with elementary school-aged children can be a treat! Unlike their teen counterparts, theyre excited about everything, eager to learn, and willing to try new things. Kids from about age 7 to 12 are the easiest with whom to travel as theyll make the most of their new adventures.Trips with babies and toddlers can be challenging. Theres so much to plan before you depart and it often seems as if you need to carry the entire house with you on your trip. Remember, unless youre going to a third-world country, you can buy diapers and other essentials when you reach your destination. Pack lightly and choose a simple destination, like a beach, where you can enjoy fun in the sun. All-inclusive resorts, found in places like the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, often have special programs for toddlers and also offer certified in-room babysitting services so that parents can enjoy a dinner or evening alone.Remember not to push your kids too far. Little ones have a limit. So do teenagers. When youre tempted to do just one more museum or spend just a half-hour more in the sun, consult your kid. If theyve already said theyre tired or hot or cold, call it a day. Your trip will run much more smoothly when your children are happy.FoodWhile domestic travel rarely presents a problem when it comes to food even for the pickiest of eaters international destinations where the food is foreign can be a real challenge for parents traveling with children.Even the well-traveled child has likes and dislikes and you cant expect your child to go without a meal. Thats why its always best to bring along a few staples just in case. Peanut butter is always a good bet, as is cereal, especially the small boxes that fit easily in your suitcase. Crackers work well, too. Any of those foods can be eaten at any meal and their familiarity will provide comfort to a child whos overwhelmed by the foreign-ness of the food on the table in front of them.Also be sure that the food and water your child is consuming is safe. Kids are more prone than adults to intestinal disorders caused by impure water and other food-related concerns. Theres nothing worse than a sick kid in a foreign country!Plan WellTruly, good planning can be the difference between a good holiday and a disastrous one. When youre traveling with adults, its okay to leave things to chance, like a hotel reservation or a train ticket. With a family, however, the more complete your plans, the better.That doesnt mean, of course, that you need to schedule every minute of every day. Kids are spontaneous and just when you think an activity or attraction might consume 15 minutes of your time, your children may love it and you may wind up spending an hour or two at that particular task. Go with the flow and let your children take the lead. Thanks to them, you may discover things youd have never found on your own!

Summary

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words 'free service', 'apartments' just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travelers in the U...