It’s FESTIVAL Season: Get Ready with Our Top Festival-goer Tips

Festival Season

Festival season is in full swing! You may have already learned the hard way that having an unforgettable experience at these amazing events requires a decent amount of planning. You can try to go with the flow and hope for the best, or you can take our advice and become an instant festival traveling pro.

#1 Book your lodging ASAP

There are only so many hotels near these venues. In order to ensure that you are getting a good deal, the right number of rooms and/or the best proximity, you have to book your lodging as soon as you get your festival tickets. Look into any hotels that are partnering with your festival for a special discount.

#2 Never act solo

Traveling is always a lot to handle. Having a friend or group of friends to help coordinate your trip, navigate your travels and execute your festival plans can make all the difference. Not only will you be safer with a co-pilot to talk to and manage the Waze or Google Maps, but festivals are a whole lot more fun when you get to share the amazing experience with your friends.

If you’re going to trade off driving, try to always have at least one person awake to accompany the driver.

#3 Pack early and double-check your list

Festivals can either be one long party filled with amazing entertainment, food, drinks, and fun OR they can be exhausting and overwhelming if you feel unprepared. Someone spill their drink on you and you didn’t pack extra clothes? Forget the one thing you can’t forget (the all-mighty phone charger)? By creating your own personal checklist and starting the packing process early, you make sure that among the excitement of the travel and the festival events that you are prepared for whatever comes up. Here’s a quick festival checklist to start with:

  • Tickets/wristbands
  • A physical map for traveling through dead zones
  • More than enough clothes in case of accidents/emergencies
  • Cash – whether it’s for the trip or during the festival, it’s always important to have multiple payment methods at your disposal
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand sanitizer/wet wipes to keep you feeling fresh
  • Bug spray
  • Backpack or similarly easy to carry bag for extended time away from your hotel/tent
  • Tent and sleeping bag (if applicable)
  • Refillable water bottle – likely holds more than 16 ounces so you don’t get dehydrated while you’re busting a move (bonus for cutting down on waste!)
  • Phone charger
  • Chairs for downtimes
  • Blankets or mats to lay down on
  • Cards or other travel-friendly games in between sets or for in your hotel/tent
#4 Get to know the details of your festival

How is your festival laid out? What times are your favorite artists performing? How easy is it to get back to your lodging accommodations? Be certain to answer these questions ahead of time to ensure that you feel prepared to make the most of your festival weekend.

Here’s a list of some of the biggest, baddest festivals

  1. Boston Calling – May 24-26, Harvard Athletic Complex, Allston, MA
  2. Bottlerock – May 24-26; Napa Valley, CA
  3. Bayou Country Super Fest – May 25-26, 2019; LSU Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
  4. Primavera Sound – May 30-June 1; Barcelona, Spain
  5. Governors Ball – May 31-June 2; Randall’s Island, New York City, NY
  6. Roots Picnic – June 1, The Mann at Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA
  7. CMA Music Festival /Austin City Limits – June 6–9, 2019; Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
  8. Bonnaroo – June 13-18; Manchester, TN
  9. Firefly – June 21-23; The Woodlands, Dover, DE
  10. Glastonbury – June 26-30; Worthy Farm, Pilton, Somerset, England
  11. Longitude – July 5-7; Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin, Ireland
  12. Pitchfork Music Festival – July 19-21, Union Park, Chicago, IL
  13. Lollapalooza Paris – July 20-21; Hippodrome Paris Longchamp, Paris, France
  14. Cincinnati Music Festival – July 25-27, 2019; Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
  15. Mo Pop – July 27-28; West Riverfront Park, Detroit, MI
  16. Lollapalooza – August 1-4; Grant Park, Chicago, IL
  17. Outside Lands – August 9-11; Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
  18. Woodstock 50 – August 16-18; Watkins Glen, NY
  19. Burning Man – Aug 25-Sep 2, 2019; Black Rock City, Gerlach, NV
#5 Map out your set-list

Which acts can you absolutely not miss? If these acts are headliners, odds are you’re going to have to stake your claim around a half hour before the set starts.

Don’t leave an amazing festival with a sour taste in your mouth because you missed your favorite band or had to wear the same pair of underwear the entire weekend. Start your planning early so that your weekend can be a breeze.

Looking for a great deal on your festival hotel so you can increase your food budget (Chi’lantro is calling…)? Do a quick search with Bonwi.com to review our best offers.

The 10 Best American Craft Beer Cities

top craft beer cities in the USA

top craft beer cities in the USA

In a time when seemingly every American destination is claiming to be one of the hottest craft beer cities, we do need to thank our lucky stars that we have come this far. There are now more breweries in the small state of New Hampshire than there were in the whole country in 1983.

Back then the six largest brewers controlled a depressing 92% of the market. Those brewers weren’t exactly putting out medal-winning beers either. The big three then and now that are part of international conglomerates were joined by Stroh’s, Heileman, and Pabst.

Some of the original craft beer pioneers that launched soon after are still around: Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Anchor Steam, and Saranac to name a few. Over the past 35 years though, some clear hubs have emerged where you don’t have to go very far to get a beer from a tap in the place where it was made. As of last year, there were a staggering 7,450 brewers in the states according to the American Brewers Association and only 104 were considered “non-craft.” Here are ten top craft beer cities in the USA that hit the mark for both quantity and quality.

Denver

The land of Coors was an early leader when the craft beer scene took off in America and by most accounts the 19th largest city in the USA by population is still the leader. It fights with Portland for breweries per capita and with Chicago for the most breweries of any kind overall, but they’ve been doing it right for a very long time here. There’s a good reason that Denver is home to the Great American Beer Festival. There are around 400 craft brewers in Colorado alone, with around 158 of those in Denver.

Find the best Denver hotel prices here.

Seattle

Washington state has the third-highest number of total breweries in the country, at 394. Around 170 of those are in the Seattle region, making it the #1 or #2 city depending on how you draw the metro area lines. While there’s some perpetual Portland envy in the northwest, Seattle does have a good mix of large brewers (Georgetown, maker of Manny’s) and small. Maybe they’ve been a little too successful: RedHook and Elysian got swallowed up by the conglomerate that makes Bud.

Find your ideal Seattle hotel at Bonwi.

Portland

Rogue beer in PortlandWhile this mid-sized city doesn’t lead by any volume stats, it does get the crown for per-capita production among the cities of more than half a million people. It has around 67 breweries in the city itself (and around 130 in the whole metro area), but for a population under 700,000. Many beer lovers put it at the top of the quality scale as well. With so much competition in a relatively small area, you have to have the goods to survive. Since Portland also punches well above its weight class for food and coffee too, build in plenty of indulgence time when you visit and join the locals on a bike to work it off. Or combine both with a Brewcycle tour.

Book your Portland hotel here and earn points back

Chicago

The Chicago brewing scene was quite robust in the days before Prohibition, with the German immigrants opening up lots of breweries in their neighborhoods, some becoming major brands. It took a while to roar back in the modern age, but now this city is back on top of the craft beer cities list for the total number of breweries, beating out Seattle and Denver last year with 173.

Find a Chicago hotel deal here.

San Diego

Green Flash from the craft beer city of San DiegoEven if they stopped at Ballast Point, Stone Brewing, and Green Flash, San Diego would be known as a great beer city. It doesn’t come close to stopping there though because there are now 150 breweries in the metro area, moving well beyond the signature double IPA style the city’s brewers started. You can hit many of San Diego’s breweries along the “Hops Highway” of California State Route 78.

Book a hotel in San Diego.

Los Angeles

California has more brewers than any other state in the nation. The second-largest city in the USA by population is a spread-out mess and beer loses out to wine and cocktails here by consumption. Los Angeles is no slouch when it comes to breweries though, with nearly 150 of them in the extensive metro area. They’re not household names with national distribution, but you will find plenty to like without having to go very far in the notorious traffic.

See hotels in Los Angeles here.

New York

First there was Brooklyn Lager, which I used to throw back when I moved to the area in 1990. Now there are more than 140 breweries. This city has always had great water piped down from the mountains up north, but high rents made brewpubs a risky bet. After the tide finally turned, the USA’s most populated and wealthiest city made up for lost time. Most of the breweries here aren’t as large as the ones in upstate New York, where land is abundant, but there are plenty of medal winners to sample in every borough. Since New York has the country’s most extensive subway and it’s easy to find a taxi, you never have to worry about drinking and driving either.

Find a New York City hotel and earn points for future travels.

Philadelphia

As with Chicago, this was once a brewing powerhouse city in the 1800s, but took quite a while to find its mojo again after the dark days. Dock Street was founded in 1985 though and quite a few local brewers launched in the ’90s. Philly now has more than 100 breweries and brewpubs in its metro area.

Search Philadelphia hotels here.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company

Tampa Bay

Nobody would have predicted Tampa Bay would be a craft beer hotspot two decades ago, when the laws were idiotic and one failed brewer said nobody would drink craft beer in Florida because the weather was too hot. Depending on how you draw the Tampa Bay boundaries now, there are somewhere between 62 and 70 breweries in the area. There are 10 within walking distance of each other in downtown St. Petersburg and six within a few blocks in tiny Dunedin, near Clearwater Beach. Some are major players with statewide distribution, like Cigar City, Coppertail, and Big Storm, while others are brewpubs with food for the neighborhood. Get a Pub Pass if you’ll be in town for a while or hop on the Brew Bus to take a tour.

Check out our story on the hotel zones of Tampa Bay and book your hotel here.

Minneapolis

If we went by metro area, the breweries of Washington, DC would be next on this list of the top craft beer cities. But it doesn’t seem fair since that statistical area includes a city and big chunks of two neighboring states. Much smaller Minneapolis/St. Paul has 34 breweries in a less spread-out area where it wouldn’t require putting 10,000 miles on your car to visit them all. Most of the beers brewed here are not nationally known, but in a city where you have to spend a lot of the months indoors, it’s good to have plenty of nice brewpubs for gathering.

Check out hotels in Minneapolis here.

Other big cities with a robust scene on par with Minneapolis include Pittsburg, Boston, Detroit, Austin, Milwaukee, and St. Louis.

Which small cities have the most breweries per capita? According to this report, those would be Portland, Maine; Asheville, NC, Bend, OR; Boulder, CO, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Some real surprises that rank high are Greenville, SC; Pensacola, FL; and Missoula, MT.

The state of Montana actually has the second-highest number of breweries per capita, at 11.4 breweries for every 100,000 adults aged 21+. Vermont is first, at 13.5 breweries per 100,000. Pennsylvania has the highest beer production overall. See how your state ranks here.

Article by Tim Leffel, editor at Perceptive Travel and the Cheapest Destinations Blog

Destination Wedding I-Do’s

Destination Weddings
Destination Weddings

You get the invitation and you’re instantly hit with a mix of excitement and uncertainty. While a wedding in Italy, or Tokyo, or even Key West seems fun and exciting and you’ve been looking for a good chance for you to get out of town for a while, it’s also daunting. Can I take off this much work? How much will this cost? Who all is going?

We’ve put together the most important questions for you to ask yourself before you commit to a destination wedding.

Where am I headed?

A destination wedding that takes place on a remote island is a completely different experience than one that takes place in a major city or a small town two states over. Will you need to be ready for a rugged, adventurous week away, or a posh and metropolitan excursion? Do you need to dress for deep humidity, arid sunshine, or mountain snow? Are non-wedding meals and activities close by and walkable, taking place on an intimate resort, or spread out all over a busy city? How will you keep in touch with the other members of your party?

Know where you’re headed and what that location will imply.

Where will I be staying?

Whether you’re staying in a chain hotel in a block of rooms side-by-side with your fam, nestled into cabins or rooms on a cruise ship, estate, or grounds, or doing something more unique, you’ll want to know what’s included and how to prepare. Are guests sharing accommodations? Is there free breakfast, Wi-Fi, an onsite gym, a pool? Will entertainment be onsite or will you need to keep yourself busy elsewhere?

Prepare in advance.

What’s paid for? (And what isn’t?)

Some destination weddings are an all-expenses adventure for a few key family members or friends. Other destination weddings are a big party with a “come if you can” invitation to every acquaintance. If travel or accommodations are covered, know what else you will need to pay for. If all expenses are paid by you, the guest, make sure you know what those costs look like and whether or not the itinerary includes other expensive events, too.

Plan to tip for room cleaning, transportation and other services, even if it’s an all-expenses paid trip.

What’s the WHOLE itinerary?

Speaking of the itinerary, make sure you know what it includes. If you’re going to Bali for the week, you may want to know if that week includes planned group adventures or tours, multiple dinners out, after-wedding breakfasts, etc. or if you’re just attending a one-night event and spending a week on the sand, or left to your own devices. If the latter is true, make sure you sync up with other guests you know and see what everyone wants to do.

PRO TIP: The best way to optimize and make the most of this expense is to do more than attend a wedding – make sure you take some photos, see some sights, and take in the beauty of whatever area you’re in.

How will I get around?

It’s smart to know where you’re headed and how people normally get from place to place. If you’re headed to an all-inclusive resort or a cruise line, this may be a non-issue. However, if you and the other guests are stationed all over and events are spread throughout the city, you may want to rent a car, arrange for group transit, or know the public systems.

How will I pack your formal attire?

A beachy wedding where everyone is wearing linen and rattan may not require formal attire. Additionally, you may be able to fold everything and press at the hotel. A cosmopolitan black-tie event, however, might require special arrangements. You may need to send your tuxes and dresses to the destination ahead of time, or bring a garment bag as your personal item on the flight. Be ready.

Am I traveling internationally?

If your destination is overseas, you will need to make special arrangements including getting that passport up to date, securing immunizations as necessary, and being ready to exchange currency. We have more international travel tips here.

Am I taking the kids?

Not all weddings are kid-friendly, but many are. If your event is a family-friendly fete and you’re bringing children under 10, you’ll need to entertain them. Address what entertainment options are onsite for families or where else you can go to keep your family happy. Team up with other parents in your group so the kids can team up, too.

How long will I be gone?

This may be the most important question to ask before you RSVP. If you’re just going a couple states away for a long weekend, you may only need to take off 1-2 days of work and get your neighbor to water your plants. If this trip extends past a week, you’ll need to account for your vacation hours at work, make arrangements for your pets and plants, and consider the kids’ absence from school.

Ultimately, couples who plan destination weddings understand that not every guest can swing the trip – especially the further from home they will be. If you can’t sweat the expense or time away, don’t feel guilty. But if you can make it, and it makes sense, this wedding could be an excuse for you to take some much-needed vacation time and rack up (or cash in) all those Bonwi rewards points!

Savannah Georgia: Ghosts and Whole Lot More

Earn points for your Savannah stay
Artillery-Demo-Fort-Pulaski, Savannah Georgia.
Artillery-Demo-Fort-Pulaski, Savannah Georgia.

Savannah, Georgia, famous for its famous ghost tours, beautiful scenery, and history, is filled with new experiences for any type of traveler. Ranked 17th among the top 25 U.S. destinations from Travel Advisor, travelers do not want to miss their opportunity to see this wonderful area.

Where to Stay:

Mansion on Forsyth Park, Autograph Collection

Mansion on Forsythe Park Savannah Georgia.
Mansion on Forsythe Park Savannah Georgia.

Located in Historic Downtown, this 4.5-star hotel is within close proximity of Forsyth Park, Armstrong House, and the Georgia Historical Society.

This beautiful hotel features 125 air-conditioned rooms that include refrigerators, pillowtop beds, complimentary wireless Internet access, and premium TV channels.

Enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or stay in and take advantage of the hotel’s room service.

The Highlights: Mansion on Forsyth Park, Autograph Collection has a full-service spa where visitors can enjoy massages and facials. If you’re looking for recreational opportunities, you’ll find a health club, an outdoor pool, and a steam room. Additional amenities include wireless Internet access, gift shops/newsstands, and wedding services.

Andaz Savannah – a concept by Hyatt

Located in central Savannah and only steps from Ellis Square and City Market, this 4-star hotel is within close proximity to both Johnson Square and First African Baptist Church.

Andaz Savannah includes 151 air-conditioned rooms featuring MP3 docking stations and flat-screen televisions. The pillowtop beds are covered in Egyptian cotton sheets. The hotel also provides complimentary wireless Internet access and cable programming.

Satisfy your appetite at the hotel’s restaurant which features a bar or spend some time at the coffee shop.

The Highlights: Enjoy a range of recreational amenities, including an outdoor pool, a spa tub, and a 24-hour fitness center.

See this related post on where to stay in Savannah.

Things to do:

Savannah, Georgia is famously known for its haunted ghost tours throughout iconic squares and old breweries. Spend some time brushing up on some spooky history as you learn about the old legends of Savannah.

Exploring the City by the Old Savannah trolley.
Old Savannah trolley.

It’s not a waste to spend some time driving or walking around the town. The beautiful streets are lined with oaks covered in Spanish moss while the old red brick buildings stand behind them.

The architecture of Savannah isn’t something any traveler wants to miss. Visitors can see replicas of horse-drawn trolleys, monuments, statues, cemeteries, and churches which all exemplify the Regency-style architecture of the town.

Downtown Savannah Georgia.
Downtown Savannah Georgia.

There are many tours to enjoy throughout Savannah. Spend your day on a trolley tour or take the city on foot. There’s tavern tours, culinary and cultural walking tours, and a haunted pub tour, along with a haunted walking and an African-American haunted ghost tour.

Breweries and more drinks in Savannah:

There are many breweries growing throughout Savannah including The Distillery, Coastal Empire Beer Co., and Moon River Brewing Co. Many of these feature citrus flavors and other specialty non-traditional brews.

Try the Alley Cat Lounge with rustic interior, PS Bar and Club Black Dream for dancing and celebrating. Other popular places include The Ordinary Pub, Betty Bombers, Green Truck Pub, and the Crystal Beer Parlor, with excellent meals.

When to go:

The best time to explore this beautiful city is during the Spring months when the area explodes with vibrant, natural colors. However, anytime is great to visit Savannah; most attractions go year-round with temperatures ranging from a January low of 39 and high of 60 to a low of 73 in July. Highs reach 92 during the summer.

Browse for Savannah Hotels and use Bonwi points for a return trip just for fun!

Omaha Impresses with the World’s Largest Dome

Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

Omaha is home to the world’s largest indoor desert under the world’s largest geodesic dome above the world’s largest nocturnal exhibit next to one of the world’s largest indoor rainforests! (Yes, you read that right!) Gain some knowledge at The Durham Museum, explore hundreds of acres at Lauritzen Botanical Gardens, and gaze your eyes at works of art at the Joslyn Art Museum.

Fun Things to do in Omaha

Check out Old Market for street musicians, artists, and more entertainment around every corner. Cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and galleries are sure to keep your eyes occupied! Enjoy new restaurants, original steakhouses, local pubs, cafes, and jazz clubs that make Old Market one of the best stops in Omaha.

The Old Market is large enough to keep yourself busy but small enough to feel like you have conquered it in a day. Be sure to sit and soak up the atmosphere and while you’re at it why not indulge in a craft beer whilst listening to some of the top-rated street musicians in Omaha.

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium boasts not only the world’s largest indoor desert but also North America’s largest indoor rainforest! There are also over seven acres of indoor exhibits, thousands of animals and underground caves covering a total of 130 acres.

Immerse yourself in a desert environment without leaving Nebraska. Guests have the opportunity to see plant and animal life from three of the world’s deserts: the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States.

As you exit the Desert Dome, there is a special room designed to showcase newly hatched or young reptiles and amphibians. This area also houses some of the reptile related conservation and research projects taking place at the Zoo. Each window and skylight allows the young reptiles access to beneficial ultraviolet rays from the sun.

Additionally, guests can walk on the bottom of the ocean and come nose to nose with sea turtles as sharks circle above them in the 70-foot shark tunnel. Discover polar regions, temperate oceans, coral reefs, and the Amazon as guests explore the largest aquarium in a zoo.

The zoo is open all year making it great for rainy days as well.

Omaha guests have a wide selection from nine different breweries to sample the tastiest Omaha Craft beer. All the featured beers are produced by dedicated locals. Take advantage of the Omaha craft brewery tour, which stops at all nine breweries and provides you with coupons for nine free beers.

Accommodations in Omaha

Hotel Deco XV welcomes its guests with 89 luxury suites and rooms including four event spaces. Carrying a 1930’s style, this high-end accommodation effortlessly blends a contemporary hotel experience with an old soul.

Guest rooms feature extraordinary furnishings, surface flooring, and amenities to ensure the highest standard of comfort and satisfaction. The Front Desk staff will assist with dining reservations, travel, and provide tips on Omaha arts and entertainment offerings. Visit the new restaurant Monarch Prime & Bar featuring a methodically developed dry-aging program, wonderful cocktail menu and a newly designed wine list. Serving daily lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

Guests enjoy time at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha.
Guests enjoy time at the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha.

Once standing as the Aquila Court Building, the Magnolia Hotel in Omaha is now structured to mimic the Bargello, a palace in Florence, Italy. Guests will discover the inviting warmth and hospitality in the center of downtown Omaha.

With only a three-block walk to Old Market, it’s easy to get around and enjoy the town. There’s a free shuttle bus service to downtown Omaha that is available from the Magnolia. Guests can also enjoy the 24-hour gym or the business center.

One review states, “From the moment you enter the property the staff, rooms, and amenities make it a real respite from standard living. The rooms are very well-appointed with a terrific coffee selection and superb bathroom. The beds…oh the beds!!! I never sleep as well as I do on trips to the Magnolia.”

Search for hotels in Omaha and your Bonwi points will cover an additional few nights stay!

“Traveling for Business or Pleasure?” Why Not Both?

Combining business travel with leisure pursuits is the latest trend in travel.
Combining business travel with leisure pursuits is the latest trend in travel.

‘Bleisure’ is Movin on Up

In the age of the fifteen-second attention spans (it may be closer to ten now) millennials are making use of the work phenomenon ‘bleisure’, a blending of leisure activities and work on business trips. While baby boomers and Generation X’ers are also in on the trend millennials are leading the pack with this double-think strategy.

Killing two birds with one stone has allowed many youngins to cut down heavily on vacation costs. Frank Thurman, Vice president of marketing for National has expressed that all generations believe this mix of work and play has led to a healthier work/life balance overall.

Despite the consensus, millennials believe they should be keeping their leisure activities on the down low compared to Generation Xers and the boomers. This may change as this notorious age group begins to take over managerial positions. Bosses who partake themselves are 25 percent more likely to encourage workers to “bleis” as well.

Travel companies are adapting to this new trend, as millennials and past generations seek out accommodations over the interwebs, obscure and well known alike. HotelTonight is cornering this market with its curtailed app for business travel and varied time slots spanning from last minute to three months in advance. You never know when the boss will need you to jet off to Seattle.

Bleisure is also going global, with the most visited cities including hot spots like Singapore, Shanghai, London, Paris, Tokyo and (of course) the ever-relevant New York City. The most common bleisure trip months are September and October. General tips for planning these multifaceted getaways include scheduling meetings for Monday or Friday, booking through your company travel portal and using the company’s lodging rate, and being fully aware of your company’s travel policy.


The bleisure trend has extended past pure travel and delved into the fashion industry as well. Par en Par is a clothing line designed to allow the wearer to slip from business casual to “lets-muck-up-the-town” with ease.

More and more young folks are gravitating towards jobs with the perks of flexible business-travel. And businesses are using it to their advantage, putting these benefits front and center as they compete for talented, up-to-date employees.

An article in Travel Weekly explained how employers are working to grasp how important being able to combine business and leisure is to Millenials.

“Understanding the needs of a client’s employer can go a long way toward helping that employer formulate an effective policy about bleisure travel, according to Leah Kirgis, manager of leisure travel at Cadence, a Virtuoso agency in La Jolla, California. “One of the things we’re often asking—and something that we find directly related to bleisure travel—is how can we help our clients create a more ‘human’ travel policy, rather than one strictly focused on cost savings?” she says.

As they say, “Build it and they will come.” Not exactly a baseball stadium, but you get the point.  Find the perfect hotel room and bank your Bonwi points to earn future stays!

Tallahassee Offers a Different Side of Florida

Hampton by Hilton, Tallahassee Florida.

When you tell most people “I’m vacationing in Florida” their immediate thoughts probably turn to old people, drugs, and a blazingly humid climate.

While this might be true, the new hotels in the state’s capital, Tallahassee, more than make up for this over exaggerated reputation. You might want to plan a few years in advance for these though.

The proposed New Hyatt House hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.
The proposed New Hyatt House hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.

The New Hyatt House Hotel falls into one of these up and coming accommodations. Five stories and 120 rooms, this structure is due to begin construction this April 2019 and end in January 2021.

The building will be located at the entrance to Railroad Square Art Park. Its design will be inspired by the areas industrial, quirky style. Another standalone building will be nearby for all the retail space a shop-a-holic could ask for. The balance between staying true to the area while still incorporating the chain continuities of the Hyatt have been masterfully achieved.

The nearby Florida A and M campus provides plenty of college students, regularly updated art galleries, and expressive thespians for the all around arts lover. Definitely check out the Crum Box Gastgraden and cross off eating in an engine caboose from your bucket-list.  And don’t worry, locals will still have access to the park during construction.

Further down the road, Indigo hotels are also planning to set up an outpost in this historic Florida city. This company is dedicated to assimilation; incorporating locally inspired murals into its buildings, along with local music and menu options in their restaurant that will be changing with the seasons.

Indigo Hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.
Indigo Hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.

Always something new to look forward to, always with a fresh, blended take. But don’t hold your breath; construction isn’t slated till 2020 and there’s no end date in site. The feel they’re going for, “to give(s) guests the confidence to step out and explore the local neighborhood.” 

Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.
Hampton by Hilton Hotel in Tallahassee, Florida.

If you’re looking to vacation before 2021, the Hampton by Hilton built this past Spring 2018 in the epicenter of the All Saints District and Gaines Street Corridor. Worry-free spaces with familiar feels create an environment that makes guests feel they’re at their home away from home. A home with 124 rooms.

That’s a lot of vacuuming. And who can live without a guest laundry, pool and fitness center? Everything is up to par, as is evident by the structure itself, and the one $billion tourism contributed to Florida’s economy this past year. Can’t argue with those results.

Whether in the immediate future or the upcoming years, travelers will be well taken care of at the variety of shiny new hotels  Florida’s Capital has to offer. Just make sure to watch for Gators.   Find these Tallahassee hotels and many more and use the Bonwi Points you earn for a beach escape next winter, like to Miami Beach at the bottom of the state.

   

Best and Newest Charleston Hotels, Hottest activities

The French Quarter Inn, in Charleston SC.
The French Quarter Inn, in Charleston SC.
The French Quarter Inn, in Charleston SC.

Opened early this year, The Hotel Bennet has been twenty years in the making and will be known as one of the most opulent hotels in the Charleston area.

The CEO of this project, Michael Bennet, had to jump through several legal hoops during development, including an aspect of the buildings height restrictions.  Fortunately, he’s an old hat to the development game. The renovation of this historic building has taken a European approach to style and architecture, using marble, limestone, and copper infused with “Carolina Lowcountry Soul” as described by Forbes.

Located in the heart of Charleston this establishment, the hotel features a two-story restaurant headed by Executive Chef Michael Sichel, a French-style patisserie and a rooftop bar and pool. And don’t forget the champagne bar. The expansive hotel took 47 months to build, starting in March 2015.

If not baby’s bottom new, you will still find high quality, well-established lodgings in this historic city. A top hotel review site has two Charleston hotels ranked for best the in country in 2019 ranking first and third; the French Quarter Inn and The Spectator hotel.

The French Quarter Inn,  located in downtown Charleston, features personalized travel plans created by the exceptionally competent front desk staff, a daily wine and cheese reception in the opulent lobby, free bike rentals (the classic ones with a basket, of course) and rooms with breathtaking views regardless of your budget.

The new Hotel Bennet in Charleston SC.
The new Hotel Bennet in Charleston SC.

For those renting the Luxury King Balcony Full Sweet, a full king sized bed, a furnished balcony and a fireplace can be turned on at the end of an active sightseeing day. Hotdog!

The Spectator Hotel is, ‘a  little waterside beauty” and is, “regularly ranked among the city of Charleston’s most luxurious retreats.”  Opened in 2015, the hotel offers front door access to Charleston’s market, historic neighborhoods are all with a three-mile walking distance and conveniently surrounded by a variety of shopping, art galleries, and fine dining.

Though a smaller establishment, the lobby and adjacent bar are expertly designed for aesthetic pleasure and facilitated conversation with a cross between the 1920s flare and upscale modern. And don’t forget to tip the rotating butler, around for all your luxury vacation details and needs.

The Charleston City Market.
The Charleston City Market, since 1807.

The Charleston Market was once called and is sometimes still referred to as “the slave market” because of its long history of being the place slaves went to buy food for the plantations.  A special aspect of the market are the ladies who make and sell their own special Charleston baskets. It goes back all the way to Africa, and their careful construction out of sweetgrass and palmetto leaves makes these items special indeed.

The Charleston City Market is located right n the heart of the city on Meeting Street, about a 10-minute walk from Broad Street, the city’s main drag. If you choose to drive, you’ll find only limited street parking available.  Find out more about vendors and goods on the market website.

Find hotels in Charleston SC and use Bonwi points for a future trip.

Then book a trip to Savannah while you’re at it, using our guide to where to stay in Savannah.

The ‘Bleisure’ Trend: Mixing Leisure Trips with Business Travel

Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!
Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!
Times Square, New York City is a great place to combine business with leisure!

The concept of blending business travel trips with leisure vacation is growing at a rapid rate. An SAP Concur study shows a 20% uptick in bleisure travel.

For this study, a “bleisure trip” included a Saturday night stay, but it’s not uncommon for these trips to extend at least two or three days. Overall, 2.2 million bleisure trips took place in 2017. That’s about 10% of all business trips. While most business travelers still have to sightsee on their travel days, 1 in 10 travelers is able to stay an extra day.

According to Forbes, the nine most common bleisure destinations include New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, London, Paris, Tokyo, Singapore, and Shanghai.

Here are a few of the top bleisure hotels in popular destinations.

Sheraton New York City - a good bleisure trip hotel
Sheraton New York City

Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel

Right in the heart of Times Square, it’s easy to understand how the Sheraton Hotel puts business and leisure travelers in the perfect spot. The Sheraton offers easy access to countless midtown offices and businesses, while onsite you can make good use of the 60,000 square feet of meeting space, including an Executive Conference Center that’s ideal for small groups.

It’s almost too easy to find entertainment near Times Square. Spend some time in the bars, museums, or see a Broadway show! When you’re in Times Square, check out one of the newest and most amazing exhibits, Gulliver’s Gate. A world in miniature that’s astounding. You may even have a view of the skyscrapers going up at Hudson Yards.

The Peninsula Chicago

This luxurious Chicago building is perfectly designed for leisure while taking care of business. Meet with associates in one of the eleven meeting spaces, then head upstairs to the Peninsula Spa for an Asian-inspired treatment. After the long days of business, relax on the sun terrace near the indoor pool.

westdrift Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles

Right in the heart of the popular Manhattan Beach community, westdrift is only a mile to the beach, and a quick trip to The Point, the city’s shopping, entertainment and dining hub.

Guests can also enjoy on-demand movies from their in-room Smart TV or outdoor lawn games such as shuffleboard, croquet, corn hole and more.

westdrift Manhattan Beach features 393 luxury guest rooms combining iconic designs, amenities and culinary offerings that speak to both coasts. Take some time to enjoy the nine-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor restaurants, a cross-fit inspired fitness center, a pool surrounded by cabanas, 18 meeting rooms, a traditional ballroom, and three large industrial-chic venues.

Tips for taking a bleisure trip

Book your meetings on Monday or Friday that way you will have Saturday and Sunday to travel.

When you travel for a business, there’s a chance you have to stay at a particular hotel.  Asking if you can use your company’s prenegotiated rate can also save you lots of money. Many bleisure-friendly companies are open to extending this benefit to employees.

Try booking your reservation with the company travel portal to access possible discount rates

Make sure you understand your company’s travel policy and what they will and will not pay for

Next time you consider traveling for business, consider adding a few personal days to explore the area. More than likely the company will already cover transportation costs, so enjoy the long weekend! Find something exciting in every new city and save on hotels using Bonwi points!

Chicago’s RiverRun Connects City Parks

The Chicago River in Chicago, where the RiverRun will add a two-mile trail connecting parks.
The Chicago River in Chicago, where the RiverRun will add a two-mile trail connecting parks.
The Chicago River in Chicago, where the RiverRun will add a two-mile trail connecting parks.

Chicago’s skyline is rising every year, as the prominent US city continues to grow and expand. Nowhere is that clearer than along the banks of the Chicago river running through the cities bustling center. Skip the chrome Bean, as new activities will include Chicago’s RiverRun Project. Due to be completed this year (2019) the new concrete path will stretch two miles and connect several of the city’s best parks, creating a central recreational hub.

A bit less current having come out in the fall of 2018 but just as entertaining is the Art on the Mart honing in on Chicago’s diverse public art. This nicely complements the self-guided Frank Lloyd Art Trail featuring 13 of his best-designed buildings throughout the state.

From art to architecture to music, Chicago’s historical prevalence concerning the history of Jazz makes it the ideal location for the modern Chicago Blues Museum, also due to open this 2019. Located near Millenium Park, the structure will highlight the pioneering blues individuals of the past while simultaneously supporting the artists of today by displaying traditions carried over, as well as housing a performance lounge.

Besides Chicago’s RiverRun, the city is looking to increase its diversity of owners along the RiverWalk. Three new areas with the vendor and city-funded upgrades to boot will begin construction this fall. This change is part of the $10 million allotted to improvements along the RiverWalk announced in January 2019.

Hotel Zachary in Chicago.
Hotel Zachary in Chicago.

The Hotel Zachary opened this past year. With its stunning views of the Michigan Lake and fantastic West Town Bakery, the wonderful amenities are all wrapped up in the nuanced architecture by the well-known architect and namesake of the hotel, Zachary Taylor Davis. The artistic touches will not be lost on the average city hopper.

If you’re looking for something more traditional look no further than The Wheelhouse Hotel. Intimate and luxurious, the baseball-inspired and hyperlocal experience will have you wishing you didn’t have to leave. If you’re a drinker, the speakeasy-style bar Tinker to Evers will definitely be the highlight of your stay. The name comes from the famous triple play from baseball’s olden days, (Tinker to Evers to Chance).

Chicago is one of the USA’s biggest convention markets, so you will probably end up there at some point if you go to a lot of conferences. It’s also the home of Lollapalooza if you’re into music festivals. And remember, one business trip to Chicago could pay for a free hotel stay in warm Miami beach if you play your Bonwi cards right.

With all the new and upcoming restaurants, entertainment, and upgrades exploding on the riverfront, make Chicago a top priority for your next big-city adventure.  And of course, you and fine great hotel deals in Chicago and use the points for a trip later on!

 

The Hotel Zones of Savannah, Georgia

East Bay Inn Savannah hotel

hotels in Savannah Georgia

Where should you stay when you visit Savannah, Georgia? Well there are plenty of great hotels to choose from there, so a lot of it depends on your style and how much walking you want to do. Savannah hotels get booked out quite far in advance sometimes, however, especially on weekends, so use this guide to figure out where you want to be and plan as far ahead as possible!

The Riverfront of Savannah

Savannah was founded as a port city up a deep river from the storm-rattled coast, a place where the British could base their trading operations in the new world. Tobacco, cotton, and less noble cargo went in and out of the riverfront docks at a furious pace for more than a century. Now most of those riverfront buildings have been converted to residences, shops, restaurants, and yes, hotels.

The Savannah Marriott Riverfront is one of the largest properties, sitting on a hill overlooking the river into South Carolina. There’s also a Hyatt Regency that may win the prize for the ugliest building in the area. Independent properties include The Cotton Sail Hotel, River Street Inn, and Olde Harbour Inn. The ironically named Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront is actually one of the most expensive places in town, part of the Autograph Collection.

Savannah riverfront hotel

Search rates and points paybacks in Savannah.

Hotels in the Historic Core of Savannah

Once you climb up the bluff from the river, that’s where you’ll find the greatest concentration of hotels. The ones along the first few blocks here are the most convenient, within walking distance to everything and close to all the best restaurants and bars.

I stayed at East Bay Inn while I was there and would highly recommend it. (See a full review here.) It’s in a historic brick building with spacious and elegant rooms, plus there’s a social hour each day with complimentary food and wine. The same company runs five other interesting properties under the Historic Inns of Savannah group.

East Bay Inn Savannah hotel

There are a few larger independent hotels in this strip, but most are chain hotels in converted commercial buildings. There’s an Andaz, Hampton Inn, Kimpton Brice, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Doubletree, and Hilton Garden Inn all along Bay Street.

The Savannah Convention Center Hotel

If you are going to a convention in Savannah, you will be attending a conference hall that is on its own island in the middle of the river. That means you’ll be taking a ferry each morning and night (which is fairly quick and pleasant), or you will stay at the big high-rise hotel right next door. That would be the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort.

Savannah convention hotel

Among the Plazas

There are many hotels that are on various plazas throughout historic Savannah, most of them small inns or B&Bs. In the more commercial area though, there are a few newer builds that were constructed from the ground up.

Perry Lane roof deck bar in Savannah

Perry Lane Hotel is one of the newest and hippest places to stay, with the great roof deck pictured above that’s worth a stop in for a drink at least. It’s part of the Starwood now Marriott Luxury Collection. Independent hotels among the plazas include The DeSoto, Eliza Thompson House, 17Hundred90, and The Marshall House. The Mansion on Forsyth Park is where celebs in town filming a movie often stay.

Bargain Rates Require a Car

To find an inexpensive hotel in Savannah, you need to have a car or be willing to pay for long Uber rides. This is especially true on weekends when everything near the center is in high demand. Most of the inexpensive hotels are a miles out of town, away from the historic area.

Most of these are mid-range and budget chain hotels, all in a strip between Midtown and Oglethorpe Mall. There you’ll find Baymont, Homewood Suites, Fairfield Inn, EconoLodge, Hampton Inn, Motel 6, and the like.

Find the best Savannah hotel rates here, plus earn back more loyalty points than with any other program. For things to do in the area, see the Visit Savannah site.

Best Savannah hotel rates and loyalty points payback

Article and photos by Tim Leffel, editor of Hotel Scoop and the Cheapest Destinations Blog. 

Albuquerque, New Mexico Has More than Just Sun for Travelers

The gondola to the top of Sandia Peak near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The gondola to the top of Sandia Peak near Albuquerque, New Mexico.

While Albuquerque rarely pops up on must-visit travel lists, it truly is a dream destination for travelers. As the biggest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque indulges in a culture unlike any other.

Brenna Moore, public relations and communications manager for Visit Albuquerque said it this way: “It is a city that truly exhibits the confluence of old and new. …People are…often surprised to see how contemporary and youthful Albuquerque is. While the existence of southwestern landscape and architecture is a part of the city’s character, Albuquerque is also rife with modern, innovative, contemporary influences.”

Next time you visit southwestern America, be sure to spend a few days in Albuquerque.

Where to Stay

Enjoy your stay at The Embassy Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Hotel & Spa, located in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico. This all-suite hotel is only three miles from Albuquerque International Sunport and even closer to the University of New Mexico, and the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Need some fun family activities nearby? The Embassy Suites are in close proximity to attractions including the Albuquerque Natural History Museum, Balloon Fiesta Park, Historic Old Town, Sandia Peak Tramway and Sandia Ski Basin.

Each two-room suite features a separate living room with a sofa bed, WiFi, a large desk, a mini-refrigerator, and microwave. Start your day with a free made-to-order breakfast or stop by Caffeina’s for a bagel and coffee.

With a four-star rating on TripAdvisor, one traveler wrote, “It was closed to downtown, it was spacious, the suites clean, modern and comfortable. The hotel was cleaned, they offered us coupons for drinks at night, they offered also fruits and other bites at night for free in the main atrium which was huge. Breakfast was incredible, anything you want to eat, and it was free.”

Hotel Andaluz

What was once the tallest building in Albuquerque, New Mexico now stands Hotel Andaluz Albuquerque, Curio Collection by Hilton. Set in the heart of downtown, this marvelous hotel features stylish guest rooms, featuring unique artwork from around the world and Spanish-inspired design.

Each room includes bath amenities, luxury linens, a signature Andaluz robe, and complimentary WiFi. Hotel Andaluz has many different suite styles to choose from including the Penthouse suite with a separate living and dining area, sofa bed, powder room, copper soaking tub, and Bose sound system.

Don’t forget to try out the unique dining experience at the MAS Tapas y Vino where you can sip and eat, all while enjoying live entertainment at Ibiza Urban Rooftop Lounge, featuring views of downtown Albuquerque and the Sania Mountains. Other amenities include complimentary fitness club access, a business center and Mercado, featuring local bites and treasures.

Anchored by a central plaza, Old Town’s cobblestone streets house galleries, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
Anchored by a central plaza, Old Town’s cobblestone streets house galleries, restaurants, and souvenir shops.

Highlights: Hotel Andaluz features beautiful guest rooms and suites. Experience the food, drink, and entertainment on the rooftop lounge.

Anchored by a central plaza, Old Town’s cobblestone streets house galleries, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Both Native American and Spanish cultures have been shaping this neighborhood for centuries. Old Town holds Albuquerque’s oldest building, San Felipe de Neri Church. Many visitors spend a few hours wandering around Old Town.

Rio Grand Botanical Garden, Albuquerque NM.
Rio Grand Botanical Garden, Albuquerque NM.

Sit Along the Rio Grande River at ABQ BioPark

The ABQ BioPark, just southeast of Old Town, gives any visitor a relaxing day spent outdoors. This massive park is home to four distinct attractions: an aquarium, a botanic garden, a zoo, and Tingley Beach. With a whole day worth of activities, ABQ BioPark is sure to provide you with an amazing day.

The aquarium features a 285,000-gallon shark tank and 200-plus species including snow leopards, kangaroos, and polar bears. If you’re not interested in attending the zoo, spend the afternoon exploring the 36-acre botanic gardens featuring exotic plant species along the walking paths. You can also find yourself with options to hike, bike and fish at Tingley Beach during a summertime visit.

For the most spectacular views of Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains, take a ride on the Sandia Peak Tramway. These cable cars carry passengers about three miles along a suspended cable between eastern Albuquerque and the 10,378-foot-high summit of Sandia Peak. Visitors can be amazed by the views of the Rio Grande Valley and the Land of Enchantment.

Find hotels in Albuquerque New Mexico and use your Bonwi points for a future trip!

Visit New York City in January for the Cheapest Hotel Rooms

Winter Village at Bryant Park, Manhattan.

New York City is a timeless destination and one that is much cheaper to visit this time of year than in the spring and summer.  Since it’s a big city, you will be inside most of the time, so why not splurge on those airline tickets at a time when it’s never going to be cheaper?

What are the most popular places and attractions to visit?  Thrillist provides some good answers, and ways to see the Statue of Liberty, such as taking the Staten Island Ferry to get your obligatory selfie shot.  Another water-borne method of observing the Big Lady is to take the free IKEA store shuttle that goes to their Red Hook, Brooklyn location from Pier 11, Wall Street in Manhattan.

Winter Village at Bryant Park, Manhattan.
Winter Village at Bryant Park, Manhattan.

There are some fun reasons to bring your family to New York City in January, besides the great hotel deals.  You can check out the Winter Village at Bryant Park, for example, and get some good deals on handicrafts, artwork and other locally made things. Plus they have a free ice skating rink, igloos to play in and even ice bumper cars!

But what about hotels?   I was told by more than one hotel manager that there is no better time than mid to late January to score rooms at hotels that normally would be much, much higher.   A quick glance at Google reveals that discounts are far higher this month than you’d expect.

There are a total of about 270 hotels in the city, and the second largest property is the old classic, Marriott Marquis Times Square.  This hotel is unique for New York City because of its size, 1966 rooms, and the way they are set up, a square all around a very, very long drop down to the lobby. It’s the tallest hotel atrium in the world.

The largest hotel in the city is the New York Hilton Midtown, with 1980 rooms. This Hilton is the 101st largest hotel property in the world and was built in 1963.   Every US president since John F. Kennedy has stayed at this hotel, so it must have something special, besides being the biggest in the city.

Book a stay at the Hilton,  or any of the 269 other New York Hotels and use Bonwi points to get another stay later on.

 

Wilmington Delaware: Fabulous Mansions to Wander Through

A luxurious room at the Hotel Dupont in Wilmington Delaware.
A luxurious room at the Hotel Dupont in Wilmington Delaware.

Wilmington, Delaware is famous for the Dupont family, the founders of the chemical company of the same name–and when in Wilmington, the standard bearer for old-line, classic hotels is the Hotel Dupont, right downtown.

The Dupont costs more than any other hotel in the city, but then, it’s historic, luxurious, and people rave about it, like these guests who stayed there in January 2019 for a wedding.

One gushed, “Your hotel and wedding venue was amazing!! Food and service were outstanding. We were there for a wedding, and it was nothing short from breathtaking!!! Everything was what a gorgeous wedding should be. The hotel rooms were so comfortable and relaxing. We can’t wait to return!!!

If you not up for a hotel that goes for upwards of $400 a night, there are plenty of other options in Wilmington, such as reliable chains like the Sheraton Suites, or Fairfield Inn.

The interior of Winterthur, which is much different from Nemours mansion.
The interior of Winterthur, which is much different from Nemours mansion. Tab Hauser photo.

Winterthur is an attraction that lights up many guides to the city.  This is the former estate of Henry Francis du Pont. Winterthur is set on 979 acres with a 175 room, eight-story mansion that was converted into the largest collection of “decorative arts” in America.  One writer described the mansion, which is packed to the rafters with furniture, arts, and antiques, as looking “like hoarders took over.”

A perfect spot for tea at the Nemours mansion in Brandywine. Tab Houser photo.
A perfect spot for tea at the Nemours mansion in Brandywine. Tab Houser photo.

The other Dupont mansion worth a visit to in Greater Wilmington is the Nemours Estate.  This 300-acre property is open for guided tours.  While a visit to Longwood Gardens centered on their gardens and not the mansion, Nemours is the opposite.

Here, the mansion, modeled on a French chateau with its 105 rooms at 47,500 square feet is the center of attention. It is surrounded by a formal French garden and a pretty walk down a long grass lawn to a one-acre reflecting pool complete with marble statues.  It’s quite a site to see!

Find hotels in Wilmington Delaware and use Bonwi points for free nights the next time.

Anaheim, California Enters the Big Time

Steelcraft container park in Garden Grove, California.
JW Marriott in Anaheim, opening in 2019.
JW Marriott in Anaheim, opening in 2019.

Anaheim, California has passed an important milestone in the travel convention business–their convention center is now 1.8 million square feet, so they can attract some of the biggest meetings and conferences in the state.

Next June, the city will host the world with the huge IPW Show presented by USA Travel. More than 6,000 travel and tourism representatives from 75 countries and all of the US states will be there.

Anaheim has been on a hotel-building boom, with more than 23 million visitors year ’round, and 150 hotels in the city that calls Disneyland home.  Here are some of the highlights.

Catal Restaurant, Downtown Disney, Anaheim.
Catal Restaurant, Downtown Disney, Anaheim.

At Disneyland, the company is  building a new 700-room luxury hotel. It’s slated to open in 2021.   Also in the works is the city’s first Element by Westin property that will open this summer at 205 W. Alro Way, just four miles from the Anaheim Convention Center.

The five-story, 174-room hotel will offer a pool deck with barbecue grills and lounge chairs, suites and studio rooms, plus a fitness center.

A luxury hotel by JW Marriott is in the works to open in 2019, adjacent to the GardenWalk in the city’s Resort district.  The 12-story $150 million property will have 466 guest rooms as well as meeting space for groups.

The seven-story Westin Anaheim Resort adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center will feature 613 guest rooms, including 101 suites, three restaurants, two bars including a rooftop lounge and provide guests a great view of Disneyland’s nightly fireworks.   This major property will also be opening in Anaheim 2019.

Anaheim is definitely a city for beer lovers. Currently there are 15 craft breweries in the city and there are three more on the drawing board for 2019!  And many of the existing breweries are expanding, like Golden Road Brewing that’s across from Angels stadium and offers a new 18,000 square foot indoor and outdoor beer garden and full service restaurant.  Noble Ale Works, near Honda Stadium, is also expanding this year by 10,000 square feet. Drink up!

SteelCraft Garden Grove just added the containers to the site November 2018, so it should be ready to open in 2019.
SteelCraft Garden Grove just added the containers to the site November 2018, so it should be ready to open in 2019.

Anaheim is also getting its own container park, like the one in Las Vegas, built from the homely containers that you can also see now in Long Beach.   This will be Orange County’s first shipping container food hall.  SteelCraft Garden Grove will include 20 artisanal retailers and restaurants, including coffee, wine, beer and dessert offerings, all located in repurposed cargo containers that are 40 feet each.  Opening in 2019.

Find hotels in Anaheim and save money using Bonwi points.

Birmingham Alabama: The Magic City Awaits

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.
The Sculpture in Birmingham, AL, that says "We ain't Afraid of your Jail!" in Ingram Park.
The Sculpture in Birmingham, AL, that says “We ain’t Afraid of your Jail!” in Ingram Park.

Named after the United Kingdom’s second largest city, Birmingham, Alabama is a hub full of history. Founded in 1871 at the cross sections of the railroad lines, it became a major city for iron and steel production, quickly earning the name “The Magic City.”

During its heyday of iron trade, it was also a melting pot of racial tensions, segregation, and violence against African-Americans. Today, the city now nods to its controversial history by incorporating these issues throughout attractions and accommodations from its past, and the conflicts that still linger today.

Many entrepreneurs and corporations have helped bring life back to the city through subtle makeovers in recent decades. Birmingham is a great place to visit to embrace and learn America’s history in the deep south, and with many family-friendly attractions, the kids can tag along too.

What to See

Railroad Park is a 19-acre green space right in downtown Birmingham. The landscape celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage that the city holds. Known as “Birmingham’s Living Room,” is perfect for locals and travelers to gather from recreational activities, concerts, and special events.

The park’s land features a lake, running trails, skate bowls, an outdoor gym, and playgrounds. Whether you’re looking to take a stroll with the family, get in some exercise or even to just enjoy some great views, railroad park is a popular hub throughout the entire year.

Another nod to its rich heritage is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The moving story of the city’s role in the civil right movement is presented through exhibits and permanent and temporary galleries. These exhibits are not solely focused on the past but are used to present the ongoing international struggle for human rights.

These exhibits detail some of the most significant events that occurred in Birmingham, including the loss of the 16th Street Baptist Church after a bombing orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

Barber Motor Sports is a private 4-mile track and incredible collection of motorcycles and racing cars outside of Birmingham, AL. Max Hartshorne photos.
Barber Motor Sports is a private 4-mile track and an incredible collection of motorcycles and racing cars outside of Birmingham, AL. Max Hartshorne photos.

For a fun activity check out the Barber Vintage Sports Museum, a collection of George Barber’s motorcycles. The largest in the world, the facility features over more than 1,400 bikes from 200 different manufacturers.

The museum is also home to an extensive collection of Lotus cars, hundreds of motorcycles and early bikes, and an outdoor track. The outdoor track also hosts the Porsche Sport Driving School.

Where to Stay

Its doors first opened in 1925, but The Redmont Hotel is still a staple accommodating guests in the heart of the city. Its art deco décor creates a timeless feel that’s not overshadowed by elegance. The interior also features art and photography by locals of the present and past, to further showcase Birmingham’s rich history.

With in-house restaurants and the bustling downtown right outside the front doors, guests will not be short of dining options. Visitors have the option of dining at the Redmont’s very own Harvest Restaurant and Bar along with a plethora of lodging options. Not to mention, guests are close to some of the Magic City’s acclaimed attractions.

Opened in the summer of 2017, the Elyton Hotel takes the sophistication of the south to a new level. With modern interior décor and hats-off to rich tradition, the hotel is finished with tall ceiling, restored marble walls and bronze fixtures to illuminate the natural light in a loft-like setting.

Guests may enjoy the hotels restaurant, The Yard, choosing dining options from a southern-style menu and local fresh products. A rooftop terrace offers a whimsical experience for sipping on cocktails while enjoying the weather with a memorable view.

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.
Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.

The Inn at Pursell Farms opened in fall 2017, and offer a 40-room escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Inn allows you to savor what Birmingham’s landscape and nature has to offer, just under an hour outside of the city.

Inn at Purcell Farms
Inn at Purcell Farms

The inn offers an array of cabins and cottages, each with four guest rooms opening to a spacious living room. To top it off, each cabin or cottage includes a personal golf cart to zip around the resort’s scenic property.

Pursell Farms also includes amenities such as the FarmLinks Golf Club, which was named Golfweek’s #1 all-access golf course in Alabama, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The property also offers over 3,000 acres of hunting, fishing and shooting and a farm-to-form dining experience. For a genuine southern experience, the Inn at Pursell Farms has so much to offer to guests and their families.

Find Birmingham Hotels and use your Bonwi points to save on your next trip!

Austin Texas: Still Hip, and Now, Booming with New Hotels

Austin's newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Austin's newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Austin’s newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Austin’s always been a bit of a spoiled brat of a city. I mean, it’s impossibly hip, it’s got Google Fiber, the fastest internet on the planet, and everyone who’s cool and hip is seen every March at the famous South by Southwest Conference.

But what we want to know is, what’s NEW?  Austin for the past few years has been on a hotel-building frenzy, with nine hotels coming online. The city added 2000 rooms in 2015 alone!

The Line Hotel was built in a 1965-era building that was once the home of a jazz club where live jazz was performed and played on local radio.  The new hotel is now open right on the lake, which is also a river.

The Line Hotel is a classic old style hotel, with new amenities that bring it into the 21st century. The designers have incorporated local artwork into many parts of the building, and they host many music and cultural events.

The Line’s lakeside infinity pool will tempt guests who will want to linger before taking on the city’s exciting music scene.

In 2018, the elegant Fairmont Hotel, from Canada, opened up a 37-floor, five- restaurant behemoth in Austin on Red River Street, with 1048 rooms and suites.

The rooftop pool at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin Texas.
The rooftop pool at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin Texas.

The Hotel Van Zandt opened a year earlier, a Kimpton property, it features a swanky rooftop pool and that oh-so-hip atmosphere the K brand is famous for.   You can bring any sized pet, and they even have a dog sitting and walking service available!

And you can even watch the amazing site when the world’s largest urban bat colony emerges in summer when you’re sitting on their outdoor deck.

Geraldine’s, the Van Zandt’s restaurant and bar, is a hot spot for local music lovers, and for those who love shareable plates of New American cuisine.

The new luxe boutique hotel, the Archer Austin.
The new luxe boutique hotel, the Archer Austin.

The Archer Hotel is another new stand-out in Austin, this one is a boutique hotel with eight stories and 171 rooms, and the Second Bar and Kitchen, where chef David Bull’s gourmet cuisine is presented in an airy setting with floor to ceiling windows.

You’re right where the action is at the Archer,  where the Rock Rose, Domain NORTHSIDE’s entertainment district, is a best-of compilation of Austin’s homegrown restaurants, bars, and shopping.

The smaller Hotel Ella is a boutique property in Austin.
The smaller Hotel Ella is a boutique property in Austin.

For something a bit different, and more historic, try the Hotel Ella, that’s walking distance from the University of Texas at Austin. Constructed in 1900, the Greek Revival-style mansion underwent an extensive renovation in 2013, and now offers a perfect balance between modernity and a rich history.

With 47 guest rooms, a cabana-lined pool, and a wrap-around veranda, Hotel Ella features beautifully designed outdoor and indoor spaces you’ll find the perfect spot for a business gathering or a romantic getaway.

If you’re thinking of Austin for SXSW, or just for the fun of it, find Austin Hotels on Bonwi.com and use your points for a future stay.

Cincinnati: The Paris of America Awaits!

Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.
Art exhibit in the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Art exhibit in the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A 19th-century boomtown has escalated to a popular travel destination in the United States. Cincinnati Ohio was commonly referred to as the “Paris of America”, due to such ambitious architectural projects it endured during its most progressive development period.

The large city has many fun and family-friendly attractions which have been additions in recent years, creating the ultimate vacation spot for just about anyone.

Cincinnati Museum Center

Under renovation since late 2016, November 2018 was the grand reopening of Union Terminal’s grand Rotunda. As the holiday season approaches the center shows off an impressive 9,000 square foot exhibit of trains, displaying realistic toy-trains in a whimsical setting, and the opportunity to visit with Santa. 

Cincinnati Union Terminal at Cincinnati Museum Center, principal façade.
Cincinnati Union Terminal at Cincinnati Museum Center, principal façade.

Additionally, there are the first phases of the new permanent galleries, the Museum of Natural History and Science’s Dinosaur Hall, and Cincinnati History Museum’s Public Landing. Dinosaur Hall is an entirely new feature, displaying six giant, prehistoric beasts. The premium interactive elements will allow visitors to experience the Jurassic period like never before. The hall will utilize the center’s fossil collection to explore the evolution and biology of dinosaurs.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Opened in the year of 1875, Cincinnati Zoo is the second-oldest zoo in the nation. Gorilla World, in the Cincinnati Zoo, allow visitors to get up-close-and-personal with 11 real-life gorillas in the new indoor habitat. Floor-to-ceiling viewing glass allows for an enhanced experience, close to one might see in the wild, to watch the gorillas play.

Gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo.
Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Visitors can hand feed a giraffe, take a safari ride, or enjoy a cinematic experience in the 4-D Theater. With over 75 acres of land, the zoo hosts more than 580 animal species and 3,000 flora and fauna species, also making it one of the largest zoos in the U.S. The zoo is the optimal location for a unique family day.

Newport Aquarium

The state-of-the-art facility allows guests to enjoy the banks of the Ohio River in the world’s most advanced, creative technology, to create an enhanced trip around the globe featuring amazing animal species. Newport Aquarium’s million gallons host an unbelievable array of sea creatures, allowing guests to get hands-on.

Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.
Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.

Guests can touch a shark, play in the interactive frog bog and even pet a penguin during the Penguin Encounter exhibit. Most daringly, take a stroll across the Shark Bridge. It is the only suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk inches above two dozen sharks. The rope bridge is 75-feet long and is suspended over the open water at the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

Winterfest at Kings Island

After a 12-year hiatus, Kings Island has finally re-introduced its favorite wintertime family expedition. Kings Island is a popular family location with more than 100 rides, thrills, and family-friendly attractions. In the winter months, the amusement park hosts a festive winter wonderland features an ice skating rink, a 315-foot-tree, carolers, train rides, a Santa’s workshop, under bright Christmas lights.

Brewing Heritage Trail

Once the booming brewing center of the U.S. with a per capita consumption of beer beyond any other U.S. city, The Brewing Heritage Trail celebrates this astonishing heritage. The urban walking trail winds through Cincinnati neighborhoods to the dozens of historic breweries. Walkers will enjoy public art and digital experiences as they follow the trail during a day full of beer. 

21c Museum Hotel

The intricate circuit of hotels in downtown, is easily outpaced by the contemporary 21c Museum Hotel. The historic Metropole Hotel features an 8,000 square-foot art museum, hosting collections of contemporary art in the most unexpected places of the boutique hotel. With 156 rooms, multiple venues, and unique displays of art, 21c is an exciting space full of change and unique experiences and décor.  

Find Cincinnati hotels and use your Bonwi points to stretch your business and leisure traveling expenses!

Which Are the Top Meetings and Conventions Cities in the USA?

Orlando hotel

Las Vegas hotels at night

If you go to a lot of conferences for your job, you’ve probably noticed that you spend a lot of time walking the exhibition halls of specific cities. While every metropolitan area in the USA would love to have your meetings and conventions business, there are a few behemoths that win by pure capacity.

It costs a lot of money to build convention centers and they require an equal amount of infrastructure in hotel beds, flight capacity, parking, and transportation. All these factors have to work in tandem for a conference destination to make it to the top. Here’s who has won the arms race in modern times:

Las Vegas

Vegas knows how to shock and awe in every category and just by the numbers, they come out on top in both space capacity and room capacity. There’s a staggering 10.8 million square feet of conference space here, partly in 3 of the 10 largest convention centers in the country. You’ll have plenty of choices on where to bed down: about 157,000 rooms across nearly 200 hotels. And Las Vegas hotels are often not very small affairs either: MGM Grand alone has more than 6,800 rooms. When you combine The Pallazo and The Venetian, they have more than 7,100 rooms.

Search hotel prices and point redemptions at Bonwi.com, where your conference stay could earn you enough points for a weekend vacation somewhere else.

Orlando

Orlando’s hotels and resorts aren’t as massive as the biggest in Las Vegas, but the sprawling city has more places to stay overall, with 265 of them. There’s something here for all budgets and parents who want to extend a business trip clearly have lots of things to spend the family budget on with Disney, Universal Studios, Sea World, and other attractions.

Orlando hotel

Orlando has 4.64 million square feet of meeting space for conventions, but be advised some of that space is in self-contained resorts that can only be reached by car. Fortunately, rental cars are abundant and reasonably priced. You can earn Bonwi points for those and your Orlando hotel stay.

Chicago

One of the USA’s largest cities attracts plenty of convention business to fill up its 50,000 rooms across 177 hotels. This is a tough city to walk around in during the winter, but many conference goers don’t spend a lot of time outside. The largest exhibition space here is massive: 2.1 million square feet. The largest ballroom is nearly 104,000 square feet–nearly two full football fields in size.

Cvent says, “More people travel to Chicago for overnight business than any other U.S. destination. Its accessibility certainly plays a role in its popularity, as about 46 million people are within one day’s drive of Chicago.” See hotel rates and get the highest points payback at Bonwi.com.

Bonwi rewards points Chicago

Atlanta

Fast-growing Atlanta has the world’s busiest airport, so getting to the city is easy from nearly anywhere. The city has 43,000 rooms across 195 hotels in all price ranges, with most major chains represented. A quarter of those are in the convention district.

The easy access and mild year-round temperatures bring in 51 million visitors a year to a walkable convention district in a city with a metro from the airport. The largest exhibit space is 2.6 million square feet and there is a total 3.9 million square feet of meeting space. Get the best rate on an Atlanta hotel here.

San Diego

With some of the USA’s best year-round weather and easy access to the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is a popular sun-and-fun destination all year. The city boasts 70 miles of beaches and 92 golf courses. It has 2.6 million square feet of meeting space and 210 hotels to choose from.

See rates and point earnings on San Diego Hotels.

Washington DC

Washington D.C.

I once attended a convention lunch so large in D.C. that I couldn’t even see the person on stage speaking unless I looked at the big video monitor. The nation’s capital has a massive conference center in a convenient location not far from the government buildings and the Smithsonian. That ballroom I had lunch in is the size of 7 football fields and it’s part of 2.2 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

Be advised that D.C. hotel rates are the priciest of any city on this list, though they can drop when congress is in recess. Make sure you get something back from all that money spent by earning Bonwi points from your Washington DC hotel.

(Related post: Explore the Distilleries and Breweries of Washington, DC)

Cities Punching Above Their Weight Class

Downtown Nashville is just a few blocks from the city convention centerThese top six cities aren’t all that surprising: they’re all large metro areas that have plenty to see and do, with easy air access. Some of the other top convention cities are much smaller, however.

Nashville, Tennessee ranks just below D.C. as a convention destination thanks to a downtown conference center near the honky-tonks plus the long-established Gaylord Opryland complex closer to the airport.

New Orleans, LA is America’s favorite party town, with to-go cups of alcohol, a casino near the bars, and a street car system to get you around town. It is also a major conference city, with a massive ballroom and a wide variety of interesting hotels that are clustered close together.

Streetcar in New Orleans

Austin, Texas is experiencing explosive growth and its long-running music scene (with 250+ live venues) has been joined by a thriving tech industry. Some 24 million people a year visit Austin and its highly ranked airport.

San Antonio, Texas may be the wildest wildcard on this list, but it outranks Los Angeles and Boston in attracting conferences. This city doesn’t attract the mega-conventions with its 742,000 square feet of meeting space, but that space is some of the most modern available after a $325 million expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in 2006.

Article and photos by travel writer Tim Leffel, editor of Hotel Scoop.

Cleveland: The Forest City Rocks

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
A scenic bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.
A scenic bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.

 Named “The Forest City” in 1834, Cleveland, Ohio has a deep pipeline of history. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland is dynamic, sophisticated and vibrant.

Cleveland rapidly became one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the United States in its early days. The city’s location on the river and lake shores, as well as being connected to many canals and railroad lines, made this the perfect manufacturing center.

Over the years, Cleveland has been a home to many crime stories and crime-lords. Crime is particularly present in only certain districts of the city, and other neighborhoods are very inviting for visitors.

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is an ideal location to sit back and enjoy a cold craft beer or locally distilled spirit among the history. Clevelanders have created a city known for award-winning food and historic buildings. The vibrant, culturally diverse city is filled with world-class museums, attractions, and parks.

Cleveland Museum of Art.
Cleveland Museum of Art.

Home to the second largest performing arts center in the United States, Cleveland hosts many Broadway musicals, concerts, speakers and other large events throughout the year. Playhouse Square Center, in the Cleveland Theater District, was originally constructed in the 1920s. After closing down, through grassroots efforts the building was revived and is recognized as “one of the top ten successes in Cleveland history”, for an entrance to the new era of downtown revitalization.

Cleveland Museum of Art is a globally recognized attraction and with a $755 million endowment, it is the fourth-wealthiest art museum in the nation. The establishment houses over 45,000 works of art from around the world over 5,000 years of time and is internationally renowned for its holdings of Asian and Egyptian art. The museum is now one of the most visited art museums in the entire world.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the most recognized faces of Cleveland. In 2017 alone, more than half a million visitors traveled to see the famous establishment. Credited to holding the country’s first rock ‘n’ roll concert, the city has hosted some of the most famous faces of rock; from the Beatles, Paul Simon, Elvis, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and many more.

In April of 2018, Cleveland hosted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, with Bon Jovi, the Cars and other rockers flooding the city.  Visitors can expect to see impressive collections of memorabilia— from John Lennon’s guitar to hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay’s gold chains. The Hall showcases many installations throughout the year, a recently popular exhibit being a history of women in rock.

Bon Jovi at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018.
Bon Jovi at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018.

Cleveland is not short of places to stay either.  Downtown is lined with new and old hotels, exhibiting the city’s vibrancy, diversity, and history. The DoubleTree by Hilton is warm, welcoming and is the closest hotel to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The building overlooks the shore of Lake Erie and is close any attractions you and your family may want to visit during your stay.

Metropolitan Hotel, Cleveland.
Metropolitan Hotel at the 9, Cleveland, Ohio.

The Metropolitan Hotel at the 9, is a luxury property to pamper you.  Located in the center of downtown Cleveland, the art and history of the city blend seamlessly at the iconic location. The design of the hotel displays bold designs, distinctive amenities to create a unique travel experience full of character.

Whether you’re going to Cleveland on business or pleasure, be sure to look into Bonwi and after you book, you’ll get points to use the next time.