Santa Barbara California: High-End Hotels and People Watching

Lower State Street, Santa Barbara, California.
Lower State Street, Santa Barbara, California.
Lower State Street, Santa Barbara, California.

You know your city is well off when your downtown sidewalks are decorative red brickIt’s these little details that will catch the eye of visitors and locals alike and part of what makes Santa Barbara California so special.

Come soak up the sunshine and the pleasant ocean views on your next vacation, business trip, or bleisure opportunity. 

Foodies, get psyched– food tours are one of Santa Barbara’s specialties. Cruise downtown at a leisurely pace on your fat tire cruiser bike as you sample bits from the city’s distinctive and eclectic restaurant scene.

Don’t leave without visiting one of the areas many wineries; Carr Winery, Jamie Slone Wines, or the classically named Santa Barbara winery to name a few. The climate is perfect for a variety of wines, but this one is best known for its fruit-driven Chardonnay. If that’s not so much your style, blends of Grenache-Syrah or Pinot Noir are a few other favorites.

Stearns Wharf Dolphin Fountain, Santa Barbara, California.

Stearns Wharf Dolphin Fountain, Santa Barbara, California.

 Families will appreciate Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, an area rich with art galleries and boutiques with the up-to-date styles of California (and wine of course).

The zone is home to brewpubs, wine tastings, art galleries, and trendy boutiques. The region used to be much less visually appealing, comprised of mainly industrial warehouses. What was once a hub for the fishing industry during the nineteenth century is now turning into an upscale spot that is attracting eclectic artists and business owners.

Pass by the well-known Dolphin fountain and take a jaunt down Stearns Wharf. Other (more outdoorsy) activities in Santa Barbara include hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding,  surfing, and fishing. Don’t forget your bathing suit, the water’s almost warm enough to swim in. Not quite.

A tour of the newly opened Rosewood Miramar Beach
A tour of the newly opened Rosewood Miramar Beach

There is no shortage of hotels and lodgings, whatever your budget. Those with a few extra bucks to spare should consider the new Miramar Hotel. Located in the affluent community of Montecito, (home of Oprah Winfrey and plenty of other billionaires)  the hotel is marked by many tells of its creator, Rick Caruso, including photos of his four kids above the bar to his family crest strewn throughout the modern beach styled get-away.

You might even get to glimpse the talented Leonardo Dicaprio, spotted at the resort not too long ago. Rooms start at $800 a night, with the grande suite coming in at a whopping $5,000 a night.

Other lodgings to appreciate include Hotel California with a Middle Eastern theme and the Santa Barbara Inn, recently renovated with views of the beach and mountains.

Santa Barbara resident Arthur von Wiesenberger shares his favorite restaurants in the city.
Santa Barbara resident Arthur von Wiesenberger shares his favorite restaurants in the city.

Fresh Takes on food

In a feature story on GoNOMAD Travel, local Arthur von Weisenberger shared his personal favorites of his hometown.  There are plenty of new options to grab a bite at in Santa Barbara.

Santa Mezcal is restaurateur Carlos Luna of Los Agaves Restaurants’ latest creation. The cuisine puts a Santa Barbara spin on traditional Mexican flavors by mixing in local and seasonal ingredients of the Santa Barbara region in. “The food is terrific, it’s very authentic,” Wiesenberger said.

Sit outside on the terrace to people-watch State Street’s pedestrians as you indulge in bold, exciting dishes.

“You can sit on the street and watch all the action on State Street– or you could sit inside and watch all the action at the bar,” Wiesenberger said.

Don’t delay, make a reservation today for hotels in Santa Barbara California.

The Coolest Design Hotels That Are Part of Major Chains

W Hotel Mexico City

W Design Hotels, like the one in Santiago Chile

In a sea of boring hotel rooms from the major chains, how do you find the design hotels that actually give you some visual stimulation during your stay?

We know, it’s really hard to keep up with all these hotel brands. In this world of hotel chain consolidation and brand offshoots, some of the multinational hospitality companies have more names in their portfolio than a Five Guys Burgers has menu items.

Here are some of the best ones to put on your list when you are searching hotels if you’re looking for art hotels, trendy hotels, or just unique resorts that have a high cool factor.

W Hotels

The original cool chain hotel brand to really go widespread is still one of the best. Originally part of Starwood and now Marriott, the W Hotels brand is consistently modern, artistic, and—if there have been recent renovations—still surprising. You get the benefits of good corporate hotel training, but with a hipper dress code and attitude more suited to 30-somethings than the Ritz-Carlton crowd. Take a look at this one in Mexico City to get an idea.

W Hotel Mexico City

Kimpton Hotels

This was, for a long time, the coolest independent hotel chain in the USA that

Kimpton trendy chain hotel Florida

stretched from one coast to the other. Most are more boutique hotel than large chain, small enough where you can get some personal attention.

Now Kimpton is part of the IHG group that previously only had the mid-range Hotel Indigo brand for the cool kids. You can count on decor that is always interesting, a daily complimentary wine hour for mingling, and attractive rooms. They’re pet-friendly and Kimpton guests also can rely on professional service that isn’t too aloof.

Andaz Hotels and Resorts

The Hyatt brand was best-known for huge convention hotels before they went through an acquisition binge the past decade and also developed a few new brands. The Andaz one has allowed them to appeal to upscale travelers who weren’t the type who went for the traditional look and feel of a Park Hyatt.

Andaz resorts usually employ a cutting-edge architect and designer in the building process and there’s a much stronger attention to unique details and nods to local culture than you usually find in a multinational chain hotel brand. Their tag line is, “You’ll know it when you sense it.” They currently have 22 properties, with 8 of them in the USA. The shot above is their resort in the Riviera Maya of Mexico.

Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica

Thompson Hotels

As with Kimpton, Thompson Hotels operated as an independent brand for many years, getting lots of write-ups and awards. Then Hyatt swallowed them up to liven up their portfolio. Thompson Hotels are artsy in a different way in each location with a few consistent elements. “Spacious bathrooms include state of the art rain showers, signature robes and D.S. & Durga products.”

The chain has six design hotels in different U.S. cities and four in Mexico and the Caribbean. Have a good time in such cool locations as Nashville, Seattle, and Zihuatanejo.

Dazzler by Wyndham

These are only in Latin America right now, but they’re worth a mention because they put their policies where their mouth is when they say they’re appealing to millennial travelers. There’s a complimentary minibar, breakfast keeps serving until noon, and you get an extra two hours to check out if needed. There’s a communal area for mingling and the prices are low enough that people in their 20s and 30s won’t get chastised for putting this place on their expense report.

Business Hotels, but Aimed Younger

If you don’t gravitate to innovative design and just want a hotel room that doesn’t make you feel like you’re at an airport in Cleveland, there are some in-between options as well. Where the major chains have been trying the hardest with new brands is business hotels that aren’t crazy expensive and are aimed at millennials who don’t draw a dark line between work and play. These properties usually have fewer frills and a less traditional look in their furniture picks. They usually have a bar though which is the centerpiece of a multi-functional work and social area. They’re often in urban locations where you can walk out the door instead of having to get in your car.

Radisson Red design hotels
(c) Radisson Red

Brands to look for that fit this “kind of cool, but still clearly a chain” look include the following:

Radisson Red
AC Hotels by Marriott
Aloft Hotels by Marriott
Hotel RL by Red Lion
Hyatt Centric
Tryp by Wyndham
Tru by Hilton

There are also some oddball brands that are sort of pitched as design hotels but are hard to define collectively. Curio by Hilton, for example, seems to be the umbrella for any independent property they take over management for but they don’t want to tag with the boring Hilton brand. These include The Diplomat in Hollywood, Florida, Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, and Hotel Andaluz in Albuquerque. It’s the same deal with their Tapestry Collection properties. Are they design hotels or traditional ones? Well, there’s not enough consistency to say either way.

When you go to book your art hotel or urban cool space to stay, you’ll find the best rates and a great points payback by booking at Bonwi.com.

Review and photos (except where indicated) by Tim Leffel, lodging expert and editor of Hotel Scoop. 

Richmond Virginia: A Cosmopolitan Civil War City

The James River flows through the city of Richmond, offering city kayaking to anyone.

The city of Richmond Virginia is one that holds deep historical significance as it was heavily involved in the Civil War period.  There are many historical markers and sites that pay tribute to this period of time in Richmond.

Over the past few years, some statues devoted to famous Civil War generals have been removed, causing anxiety and division among the populace.

Besides its role in the Civil War, Richmond is now becoming an emerging tourist destination with craft breweries and eateries that have put this city on the map.

The James River flows through the city of Richmond, offering city kayaking to anyone.
The James River flows through the city of Richmond, offering city kayaking to anyone.

Richmond includes the wonderful James River, which many will find kayaking, canoeing, or even swimming in the calmer parts of the waterway.
Richmond is also decked with areas of great natural beauty including many parks where visitors are found hiking, biking, bird watching, and horseback riding.

Things to Do in Richmond VA:

American Civil War Museum, White House, & Museum of the Confederacy

Richmond is one of the best places in the south to find out about the Civil War and learn the history of the battles and the Confederacy.

The White House of the Confederacy is better known as the official residence of President Jefferson Davis during the Civil War.

There are many guided tours of the mansion where visitors will learn about the historical and cultural significance of these landmarks.

The museum is located directly next to the White House and spans three floors which all include exhibits of Civil War memorabilia.

Belle Isle

On the James River Park System, cross the scenic footbridge that leads you to the small island. Belle Isle is a small area of land that is known for being surrounded by rocks that have been smoothed by the water so that they are flat in shape. Many locals come here to sunbathe on the rocks in the summer months. Belle Isle is also a great place to mountain bike.

Take some time on the walking trails around the island that take you through wild woodlands.

Hardywood Craft Brewery in Richmond VA.
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond VA.

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

For those interested in tasting some fresh brews, make your way to Hardywood Park, one of the most famous breweries in Richmond. Here you will find a delicious tasting room. You can also take a tour and learn how the beer is made before sampling some of the best beverages on offer. Many food trucks work with the brewery outside, as well as live music nights and special events and festivals.

Thinking of bringing your children to Richmond? Have no fear! It’s not all history and drinking. There’s plenty to do with your little ones in this city!

The Science Museum of Virginia is the place to come if you love science and want to know more. There are plenty of permanent exhibits here that are divided up into themed sections such as space, electricity, health, and geology, as well as rotating galleries.

The museum also features The Dome Theatre which is home to a 76-foot screen that has a claim for being the largest in all of Virginia.

Dooley Mansion at Maymont, Richmond Virginia.
Dooley Mansion at Maymont, Richmond Virginia.

The Maymont Children’s Barn features wonderful art and architecture for the parents to enjoy while children can play on the mansion’s grounds or just go wander through the gorgeous flower gardens. You can also tour the mansion on the property if you’re up for it!

The river goes through Maymont and you can sometimes find otters swimming in the waters, or you can play with the animals on the farm that sits in the grounds.

If you need one last place to take the kids to keep them occupied, try the Metro Richmond Zoo!

Places to Stay in Richmond VA:

If you’re looking to be centrally located in Downtown Richmond, stay overnight at the Hilton Richmond Downtown. It’s only steps from the Greater Richmond Convention Center and minutes from The National.

Belle Isle in the James River, Richmond VA.
Belle Isle in the James River

This hotel features 250 air-conditioned rooms with refrigerators and LCD televisions. Each room comes with a Select Comfort bed. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and cable programming provides entertainment.

Highlights: Besides the beautiful guest rooms, enjoy the indoor pool, spa tub, and 24-hour fitness center. Other features include complimentary wireless Internet access, wedding services, and a fireplace in the lobby. Guests can catch a ride on the complimentary shuttle, which operates within 2 mi.

The Holiday Inn I 64 West End in Richmond is close to the airport and minutes from Crossroads Art Center and the Children’s Museum of Richmond. This hotel is within close proximity of the Shops at Willow Lawn and Markel Building.

This accommodation includes 142 air-conditioned rooms featuring refrigerators and microwaves. Complimentary wired and wireless Internet access keeps you connected, and cable programming provides entertainment.

Highlights: Enjoy the outdoor pool and fitness center. Grab a bite to eat at the hotel’s restaurant, which features a bar, or stay in and take advantage of room service. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge. Breakfast is available daily for a fee.

Looking for somewhere else to stay in Richmond, Virginia? Check out Bonwi.com for accommodations available for your trip!

How To Do A Staycation

How To Do a Stayvation

Your state may not be one that is aggrandized on the silver screen, but it’s likely filled with amazing places to see, food to eat and cities/towns to explore on your next staycation.

Whether you’re a nomad or a home-body, it’s awesome to get out, experience something new and recharge from time to time. But not everybody has the time or budget to hop on a plane and take a week or month-long vacation. Luckily, there are beautiful and inspiring things happening nearby. Here’s what you can do to get out of the house and start making staycation memories.

Do some online research

A smart way to connect or reconnect with your local area is to view your local region through the eyes of a tourist. What are travel bloggers saying about camping, outdoor activities, site-seeing, food and shopping in your area?Which hotels offer jaw-dropping amenities?

  • Set up a starter checklist of must-sees and must-stays in your hometown, county or region.
  • Dive deeper into city websites, forums and even social media accounts.
  • Sites like Instagram allow for location tagging so you can see exactly where some of the most iconic scenes are located.

Don’t be afraid to just hop in the car without a plan and just see where the day takes you.

Get out and drive

If you’re ever going to take the road less traveled, you may have to find it yourself. There are a ton of digital resources out there to find all kinds of amazing drives, hikes and eats. However, some of the best areas in your state aren’t going to come up on Trip Advisor, Yelp, travel blogs or even Google Maps! Don’t be afraid to just hop in the car without a plan and just see where the day takes you. Get wild and upgrade your ride by renting a convertible for a day or two.

Ask a local

If you’ve lived in multiple regions of the country, you likely know that the best way to get to know an area is by living there. Want to know the ins and outs of a new city? The quickest way to find out is to ask a local. Stopping for gas? See what the attendant has to say about the area’s food scene. Checking into your staycation hotel for a night or two? The front desk staff should have a great idea of some of the best activities nearby for your specific interests.

Get wild and upgrade your ride by renting a convertible for a day or two.

Trips from a hat

Just like the well-known skit from “Who’s Line is it Anyway”, placing different trips into a hat or bowl to randomly select keeps you and your partner, friends or family spontaneous. Whether it’s a state park, view, road, city or restaurant that you would like to see, failure to launch is a common struggle that keeps us tied to our normal routines. This hat trick will help.

In your research of local areas of interest, print out the names of each location and place them somewhere accessible. Set a regular time each week or month to select an adventure “from the hat” and say goodbye to the endless vortex that is:

“What do you want to do?”

“Oh, I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Trust your instincts

Looking for a great bite to eat while out on the road? Searching for a change of scenery? The best thing to do may just be to follow your nose, eyes or gut. Some of the best local favorites an area has to offer may be so well known that they don’t focus on marketing their business. If this is the case, you could easily overlook an area classic for something a little more typical.

When you’re looking for a great escape, it’s okay to just slow down and feel out a given area. Use your senses to truly experience a given destination. If you smell something you like, go taste it! If you see something you like, go check it out! If something seems exciting, go explore it! If a place feels good to you, settle in and let it be your home for however long you’re there.

Failure to launch is a common struggle that keeps us tied to our normal routines.

Taking these little staycations can help you reset after a busy or stressful week, connect with your local area, inspire your sense of adventure and recharge your creativity. In other words, wander more and worry less! With Bonwi’s rewards system, you can accrue points with up to 40% back on hotel stays and car rentals. Where to?

Pittsburgh: A Renaissance City You Should Explore

Pittsburgh is at the confluence of three major rivers.
At the confluence three rivers, Pittsburgh PA is a city on the rebound, with lots to discover.
At the confluence three rivers, Pittsburgh PA is a city on the rebound, with lots to discover.

Famed for its steel industries during the Midwest’s industrial boom, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania is a place of red-bricks, countless depots, and arched bridges. However, taking a dive into the city’s riches will show any visitor a more characterful edge.

Pittsburgh’s museums are something not to miss, thanks to the investments of Andrew Carnegie in the 19th century.

Parks draped over the hills and riverside ridges of the downtown, Major League Baseball, Bavarian beers, and delicious eateries, make Pittsburgh a great place to visit. It’s one of the few small cities in the US that can boast a professional major league team in baseball, football, and hockey.

Things to Do in Pittsburgh

Eat downtown at the oldest restaurant in Pittsburgh.  The Original Oyster House, located in Market Square, first opened in 1870. The Original Oyster House is a designated historic landmark and represents much of what modern-day Pittsburgh is about, combining history with delicious food.

The Original Oyster House in downtown Pittsburgh is an institution in the Steel City.
The Original Oyster House in downtown Pittsburgh is an institution in the Steel City.

Old photos and Pittsburgh memorabilia cover the walls of this oyster house and bring a sense of nostalgia that makes you feel like you’re traveling back in time.

For some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the Pittsburgh downtown and the waterways of the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, Mount Washington can’t be beat.

The hills of Mount Washington offer a picture-perfect broadside of the city’s skyscrapers and steely high-rises.

If you want to see something unique and cool, visit the Duquesne Incline, an old fashioned elevator that takes you up a steep hillside on the river.

Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh.
Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh.

The mountain features two funicular railways, wonderful eateries, historic spots supposedly once trodden by George Washington himself, and Emerald View Park, the perfect place for escaping the urban craze.

Experience the juxtaposition of something new in Pittsburgh’s historic Oakland neighborhood. The Oaklander Hotel is located in the heart of the collegiate and hospital districts. Considered the cultural center of Pittsburgh, Oakland houses Carnegie Library Main Branch, the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, Carnegie Music Hall, and Phipps Conservatory.

This hotel features expressive accents and guest rooms where classic meets modern.

Featured amenities include the hotel’s modern fitness center, lounge with a cocktail at Spirits & Tales, and free WiFi access.

Distrikt Hotel is a new Curio by Hilton property in Pittsburgh, PA.
Distrikt Hotel is a new Curio by Hilton property in Pittsburgh, PA.

The Curio Collection by Hilton welcomed the Distrikt Hotel in Pittsburgh only two years ago. This unique downtown property combines both a historic yet modern look. Formerly the Salvation Army headquarters, the boutique hotel offers contemporary amenities while honoring the building’s architecture on the National Register of Historic Places.

This hotel is full of Pittsburgh pride with photo collages on each floor along with original limestone, woodwork, and stained-glass windows. The guest rooms include complimentary WiFi, a mounted 42-inch TV, mini-fridge, coffeemaker, Turkish linens, and a walk-in shower.

The suites at Distrikt Hotel have several options such as a separate living area, sofa bed, and floor-to-ceiling windows, and their Penthouse Suite includes a terrace overlooking downtown.

Grab a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant, The Whale,  inspired by the novel ‘Moby-Dick.’ This seafood an chop house showcases French specialties and local ingredients.

The Distrikt Hotel Pittsburgh has plenty of amenities for your stay, including a rooftop terrace, business center, state-of-the-art fitness center, in-room dining and valet parking.  Look for hotels in Pittsburgh and use your Bonwi points to stay even longer!

Disneyland Summertime Survival Tips

Disneyland Summertime Survival Tips

All year long your little ones have been admiring their favorite characters on the big screen and TV, quoting inspiring and hilarious lines and singing the songs from the many Disney films. Don’t wait until your kids feel all cooped up in the house during summer vacation to start making your travel plans. A trip to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is just the summer vacation idea that your family can get behind.

So now that you’re on board with planning a trip to Disneyland Resort (Disneyland Park together with California Adventure Park), you’re probably wondering what you need to do for a fun, successful trip within budget.  If the whole family isn’t comfortable physically or financially, it’s going to put a damper on the experience. At Bonwi, our mission is to make travel easier, so that vacations can actually feel like vacations. Here are our survival tips to help you make the most of your Disneyland Resort experience:

Beating the heat

Step one is to stay hydrated. Whether you’re towing your own bottle with a carabiner or regularly buying bottles at a cart or kiosk, it’s super important to keep your family hydrated. With all of the extra fun and excitement working together with the constant sunshine, you’re bound to exude a lot of energy.

The right apparel is also key to keeping your family safe and comfortable. Make sure to pack plenty of breathable tops, bottoms and footwear for the long days of fun ahead. One or more of the adults may want to consider bottoms or bags with plenty of storage to hold everyone’s essentials. Select apparel that will be comfortable for walking and standing the whole day. Hats and sunglasses will help to protect you and your family from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. 

Don’t forget to apply (AND reapply) sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied to all skin that is exposed to the sun (remember to get the tops of your feet). There is a good chance that the protective effects will wash away after swimming, a water ride, excessive sweating or after a few hours.

The best tip of all for beating the heat at Disneyland or California Adventures is to hop on a water ride!

Keeping kids safe among the crowds

Let your kids know what to expect in terms of noise, excitement and crowds before your trip out to the park. Here’s how:

Talk to them ahead of time

It’s important to educate your children what to do in case you get separated for whatever reason. This can help reduce the overwhelm that children and parents may have heading into the experience.

Make sure phones are completely charged 

Setting devices to energy-saving mode helps lengthen the life of the charge. Bring your plug-in or solar charger.

Come equipped 

From the right strollers to safe and ergonomic carriers, the right equipment can help keep everyone’s legs fresh and ready for fun, while also ensuring that your children are safely within reach.

Consider buying ID bracelets for your kids

Customizable ID bracelets can include vital information such as your cell phone number, the child’s name, address, any medical conditions, etc. 

Come early and know where you want to go

By beating the crowds with early admission, you can avoid the issue of large crowds entirely. Having a good idea of the themes, characters, rides and attractions that your family wants to see/do while at the park will reduce idol time and confusion.

Maximizing the fun without maxing out your budget 

We all want to give our little ones the most amazing experiences possible. However, it’s important to keep in mind that any Disneyland trip should result in unforgettable memories. With a little bit of planning, your kiddos can have an amazing summer vacation in Southern California, regardless of your budget. Let’s focus on a few key areas that you can customize to plan the perfect Disneyland Resort vacation:

Characters

Where are your kiddos favorite characters? Do they have any special performances and when and where do they take place? For general admission, your family can interact with Disney’s most beloved cartoons come to life! There also a number of different dining options that feature some of the Disney greats, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy!

Themes

What are some of the can’t miss rides and activities that your children have to see while they’re at Disneyland? Plan each day to weave through all of the excitement and amazing attractions to stick together as a family while still ensuring each kid gets to spend time in their own real-life fantasy!

Lodging

If you stay inside the resort, you’re waking up right inside the action, but it may cut into your overall budget for your trip. Weigh the benefits of having your Disneyland hotel nearby and starting your days earlier vs. having more budget to spend on food, travel and memorabilia for your Disneyland vacation.

Ticket packages

For larger groups or for families looking for a comprehensive experience, Disneyland Resort offers ticket packages that permit visitors access to unique experiences at a more affordable value.

MaxPass

For $15 per day, per person, you can beat long lines with FASTPASS access as well as download and save as many pictures from your stay as you want.

Other considerations

Get to know the Disneyland Resort rules and regulations. This will make sure that there are no surprises during your vacation. Check their FAQs for answers to any other questions you may have.

Creating lasting memories

With enough attention to detail, you can all but guarantee that your Disneyland trip will be unforgettable. When your trip does go off without a hitch, you might want to turn it into a family tradition. Look into saving money on your summer vacations and all of your other travels with Bonwi’s rewards program. Take a look at Disneyland Resort hotels, Anaheim hotels and other properties a short drive away right here.

disneyland-resort-summertime-tips

Loyalty Points Battle: Wyndham Rewards vs. Bonwi

Wyndham Grand Clearwater

How does Wyndham Rewards compare to Bonwi?

How many points will you rack up if you always stay with Wyndham hotels and are loyal to that brand collection, as opposed to staying wherever you want and earning Bonwi points?

Let’s take a look at points earnings and payoffs with the two programs: Wyndham Rewards and Bonwi Rewards. Wyndham’s program often shows up at #1 among the major international hotel brands when companies do a head-to-head benefits comparison. This is partly because their points don’t expire like the ones from Hyatt, Marriott, and the others do. They also used to have a flat redemption rate for all hotels, but that disappeared in 2019, so that might cause a slip in the rankings.

Do they have a chance of toppling Bonwi in the loyalty points payback race? Let’s take a look.

How the Wyndham Rewards Program Works

As with most branded loyalty programs, you only earn points by booking direct with the company, not if you use a third-party service like Expedia. Your earnings are determined by how much you spend. You earn fewer points for a cheap place than you do for an expensive resort. The program is straight-out dollar-based though, so it’s easy to determine.

For every qualified stay at a Wyndham Rewards hotel, vacation club resort, or vacation rental, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar or 1,000 points—whichever is more.

They have “9,000 hotels worldwide across 90 iconic brands,” but those icons may not be ones you want to look up to. If you go to cash in points, your only options might be a Days Inn or Super8 motel beside the interstate highway, with questionable business going on in the next room.

Your points earnings are limited only by your spending, though be advised the rip-off resort fees collected as some properties—including many of their Vegas ones—don’t count for points earnings. You can also earn points at their partners, like the usual rental car companies and  shopping partners, but also for booking tours at Viator or buying gas at Marathon stations.

How the Bonwi Rewards Program Compares

With Bonwi.com, there’s no set formula by brand on the earnings side and the points you earn are variable. Some properties may earn you less than the 10 per dollar Wyndham is offering, others will offer more. You have the whole market to choose from, however, not just one company’s brands. You can often earn enough for a free stay after just two or three nights. See how it works here.

If we travel to Vegas, where Wyndham has its own properties plus the Caesar’s ones, we can do a nice head-to-head comparison. Booking with Wyndham would get you 1030 points at Paris Hotel or 950 at Bally’s. Here’s how many points you’d earn with Bonwi though, four times more and 50% more.

Bonwi points at Caesars Hotels

For other cities it’s less clear-cut. The 10 points per dollar level is pretty generous by brand loyalty standards, so in some cases that wins, especially at the cheap motels. In others, especially internationally, Bonwi comes out ahead.

Redeeming Points With Wyndham Rewards and Bonwi

Wyndham now has three tiers of redemption, which in all fairness is still much less complicated than any of its competitors. (Marriott Bonvoy has eight.) I can’t find an award chart for them anywhere, so you have to go through the booking chart to know how many points you need. But they say 200 properties are at the highest level of 30,000 points. So that will get you into one of the Caesars properties in their portfolio (which includes Rio, Paris, and Planet Hollywood in Vegas) or a Wyndham Grand, like this one in Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Wyndham Grand Clearwater

At the other end of the scale, you only need 7,500 points to get into 3,000 of their hotels. That sounds like a lot, but remember they have Microtel, Day’s Inn, Super 8, Howard Johnson, La Quinta, Baymont, and Travelodge.

Everything in between is a flat 15,000 points. That is the most common, applied to more than 6,000 properties.

At Bonwi, the points redemption is variable based on demand and what the individual properties are offering. You may be able to get a room for less than 5,000 points a night, so you could get three nights for the price of one at Wyndham.

Other Redemption Opportunities

You can also transfer points to certain airlines or Amtrak to top off your balance at one of those. Usually this is nowhere close to a 1:1 trade though and you have to log in and start the process to see how many Wyndham points it will take. It requires 6,000 Wyndham points to get 1,200 American Airlines miles, for example, so you only want to do this as a last resort.

Bonwi points are always worth one cent each though, no devaluation required. So the math is easy: 6,000 Bonwi Rewards points are worth a $60 airline credit. Get to 30,000 points–which would only get you 6,000 AA miles with Wyndham–and you’ve got enough for a $300 round-trip flight.

The same is true for Wyndham redemptions for merchandise, gas cards, or gift cards. You’ll take a big hit to your points value to do this. With Bonwi, however, 10,000 points is a $100 gift card.

Overall, if you normally stay at Wyndham properties a lot and can compound your earnings by hitting elite status, it’s a better program than most. The earnings and redemptions are both clear-cut, so it doesn’t require an hour of research to figure out how to earn or redeem for what you need. This is an especially good program if you’re a road warrior staying at a lot of inexpensive motels by the interstate highways. Since it’s tied to a vacation ownership program, it’s also one of the few that can get you into a real condo with a kitchen when you’re with your family.

With Bonwi though, you have the flexibility to choose whichever hotel you want to stay at or whichever one gives the best point redemption where you’re going, regardless of brand. Your points also don’t expire here and you have a wider net you can cast for redemption since they’re worth a straight one cent each for flights or gift cards.

Check rates where you’re headed on the Bonwi home page.

 

 

The Best Motorcycle Road Trips for Bikers With Experience

Are you a weekend warrior who breaks out the colors and cuts whenever you can? Do you feel most alive when dawning your dome and taking on twisties? This post’s for you. 

For many bikers, hitting the open road is more than just a thrill ride – it’s a way of life. The road doesn’t know what kind of bike you ride, how seasoned you are or who you’re riding with. But you get to ride the curves in the road and experience mesmerizing natural vistas from the open air. So fill up your tank and start revving that hog for these 10 bucket list biker trips.

#1 Tail of the Dragon – Deal’s Gap
  • Distance: 11 miles
  • States: Tennessee and North Carolina
  • Nearby: Maryville, TN

This easy to miss slice of road is a biker’s dream. Right near the Tennessee/North Carolina border, the Tail of the Dragon is 11 miles of whipping curves and bends – 318 of them actually, but who’s counting? It’s ideally located right on the edge of The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so it won’t be lacking in views. Wind through these 11 miles slowly and enjoy the ride or test your skills against the dragon!

#2 Skyline Drive

Winding through the entirety of the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive makes for the perfect fall escape into the Northeast foliage that Virginia boasts. 

#3 Blue Ridge Parkway

For a longer trip, Blue Ridge Parkway only has a 45 mph limit and the roads are extremely well maintained. This is all the better so that you won’t miss the numerous pull off areas for all of the sight-seeing that can be done along this great parkway, including The Great Smoky Mountains!

#4 Beartooth Highway
  • Distance: 50 miles
  • States: Montana and Wyoming
  • Nearby: Billings, MT

Dozens of hairpin turns and switchbacks maximize this modestly populated stretch of highway near the border of Montana and Wyoming. Not for the waxers or independents, Beartooth has more twisties and ups and downs than it does guardrails.

#5 Coastal Route 1

Lobster anyone? U.S. Route 1 runs from Brunswick to Machias and generates an absolutely quintessential experience for a New England road trip that checks all the boxes. From lighthouses to the ocean breeze, you won’t be hurting for places to stop along the way to unwind after throttling through some high-speed curves.

#6 The Three Sisters AKA The Twisted Sisters

Deep within Texas’ stunning Hill Country, this route is comprised of three ranch roads (the sisters) 335, 336 and 337. Bendy hills and amazing curves make for an amazing day for Southwestern riders. Conquer The Twisted Sisters in a day or saddle up for a ranch tour cowboy!

#7 Grand Staircase

Starting near the outskirt of Capitol Reef National Park and cutting through the middle of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bikers can get one heck of glimpse of some of the amazing vistas that Utah has to offer along this 130-mile motorcycle route. Take your time getting to the Grand Staircase, as both Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon are places along the way that you’ll want to soak in.

#8 Peak to Peak Highway
  • Distance: 60 miles
  • State: Colorado
  • Nearby: Denver, CO

If a 60-mile strip of road is going to make our list, you best believe it’s because it’s packed full of hairpins and unforgettable views. Deep within the heart of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Peak to Peak Highway features some of the best of what both Mother Road and Mother Nature have to offer. Elk and Moose are known to cross this road, so you’ll want to take it slow and enjoy the ride. Take your hiking boots to truly make the most of this great 60-mile ride!

#9 California Route 36 AKA Twisty Road
  • Distance: 140 miles
  • State: California
  • Nearby: Eureka, CA

With little to no cell reception, you’re going to want to just grip your bars and trust your instincts on this windy road. You likely won’t find many roads with more intense changes in elevation. If you’re a fan of roller coasters, this is one trip you won’t want to miss!

#10 The Natchez Trace Parkway

This Southern motorcycle route starts in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee (just below Nashville) and finishes in the town of Natchez, Mississippi. With tons of historical southern and Native American landmarks along the way, riders can easily find themselves turning this 400+ mile long trip into an unforgettable weeklong vacation.

If your heart belongs on the road, travel is inevitable. Bonwi can not only help you find the best deals on your hotels and lodges, but our rewards program helps you rack up valuable points that result in further savings on stays you were going to pay for anyway. Find out more here.

Providence Rhode Island: Catch WaterFire and the Excitement

WaterFire Night packs in quite a crowd in Providence RI.
WaterFire Night packs in quite a crowd in Providence RI.
WaterFire Night packs in quite a crowd in Providence RI.

Providence Rhode Island is not the typical “go-to” tourist destination. Often overlooked, this tiny state is seeing some major surge in tourism in 2019, with new activities and eight hotels being built.

Woodspring Hotel, Providence RI.
Woodspring Hotel, Providence RI.

March welcomed the new Woodspring Suites Hotel along with two extended stay hotels, the Homewood Suites Hotel and the Marriot Residence Inn, due to open later this year. Tourism development like this has contributed to the increased occupancy the city has seen in the past year-and-a-half. With business going as well as it is, older hotels won’t need to worry about competition. Summer has proven the most hectic with the cities overall hotel capacity reaching 80%.

Providence offers a dizzying array of attractions for visitors. Between the months of May and November braziers are placed in the middle of the river in downtown Providence, 80 altogether, lighting the entire area in a warm glow. This annual tradition is called Waterfire, and it’s a big deal in the small city.

Benefit Street, Providence Rhode Island. GoNOMAD photo.
Benefit Street, Providence Rhode Island. GoNOMAD photo.

If history more your thing, Providence has plenty of it. From tours of the 1786 John Brown to Benefit streets “Mile of History”, a line of Federal period homes at one end, to later Victorian, to “arts and crafts” style. Roger Williams Park and Zoo provide more family-friendly experiences. Take the family for a day and see the over 435 acres of gardens, the carousel, and trackless train rides. If the kids aren’t cooperating, you can always introduce them to one of the snow leopards in the open and largely cage-free environment.

Vacation isn’t the only reason to visit. Other popular travel reasons include sporting events, weekend trips, fishing trips or business conventions. Homewood Suites would be the most convenient for business travelers, as the accommodations are located within walking distance of numerous corporate companies.

The CAV restaurant offers great food and antiques too, in Providence RI.
The CAV restaurant offers great food and antiques too, in Providence RI.

There’s even the possibility of combining play with work, bring the whole family and have them explore the Arcade and Downtown city of Providence while you handle your business meetings and conferences. Meet up with them later for a meal at the CAV restaurant, one of with its European yet muted décor and Monday night martini specials. You can also shop for antiques at this unique eatery–in Providence Rhode Island.

Whatever your reason for travel, Providence will surprise and delight. Use your Bonwi points and when you search for hotels in Providence RI, you can use them to stay longer!

Best Cities for People with Allergies

Best Cities for People with Allergies

Best Cities for People with Allergies

Whether your job requires frequent travel or you’re planning out potential summer vacation destinations, knowing which areas are allergy-friendly and which areas aren’t can help you get prepared.

One in five Americans suffers from allergies accounting for $18 billion dollars in annual costs. This is why it’s important to consider an area’s allergy production and what a given city is doing to manage its allergens.

Allergy causes, Symptoms and solutions

While everybody’s immune and respiratory systems are unique, certain climates are more prone to foster allergens and pollutants that typically bring about airborne allergy symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • Dry, scratchy eyes
  • Itchy, runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Swelling of the nose or eyes

Your allergy symptoms can be triggered by different allergens. Just because you haven’t experienced allergy symptoms, doesn’t mean you won’t if you are traveling to a new area. No matter where you decide to travel to, you can help reduce the impact of airborne allergens by:

  • Showering at night – This works to rinse away any buildup pollen that could be irritating your skin in the night.
  • Wearing glasses and hats – This will help protect your eyes and head by deflecting airborne pollutants.
  • Limiting your outdoor time during peak pollen release periods.
  • Placing clothing in the washing machine and changing clothes immediately after outdoor activities.
  • Wiping off shoes and pets when entering your home.
  • Purchasing a whole-home or portable air purifying mechanism.
  • Flushing the inside of your nasal passage with a nose rinse.
Most Comfortable cities

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) puts together an annual list that ranks some of the nation’s major cities in terms of how comfortable they are for allergy sufferers.  Factors that make for more comfortable allergy conditions include:

  • Cooler weather – freezing temperatures can kill off plant life that produces pollen.
  • Strategically planted plant life – clustered plant life can lead to more potent pollen buildup rather than more manageably distributed pollen levels.
  • Planting fewer high-allergy plants.
  • Biodiversity – plants still purify our air. By diversifying the city’s plant life, the density of each type of pollen is reduced.
  • Coastal proximity – ocean breezes can be strong enough to impact air quality.

Many of the best cities for allergies can be found in coastal and mountainous regions of the country.

  1. Denver, CO
  2.  Provo, UT
  3. Boise, ID
  4. Portland, OR
  5. Colorado Springs, CO
  6. Ogden, UT
  7. Seattle, WA
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. Raleigh, NC
  10. Spokane, WA

Allergy symptoms may often be overlooked, but they can have a profound impact on the quality of life of allergy sufferers. If you or your loved ones suffer from allergies, seriously consider the areas where allergy sufferers can breathe a little easier when planning your next vacation or business trip. 

Where to Stay in Syracuse, New York

Where to stay in Syracuse - best hotels

What are the best hotels in Syracuse to stay in if you’re headed to a university event, a Finger Lakes region tour, or a getaway vacation? We’ve got the scoop on your options around this easy-to-navigate city in upstate New York.

Where to stay in Syracuse - best hotels

Most people in the USA know of Syracuse, New York from it’s university. They mostly know that because of its history of great basketball teams. The university has a nice campus to stroll around, including the centerpiece building above which is the oldest. It is a fine college if you’re scouting out where to send your kid. But the city also has a lot of interesting history to dive into.

The historic Hotel Syracuse, now a Marriott and one of the best places to stayThe Erie Canal once went straight through downtown and was the reason Syracuse boomed in the first place. That canal mostly got built because of salt barons who were extracting this essential life element from a nearby lake in the early 1800s. Some 75% of the salt consumed in the USA in that century was from this area. The city because a technological center too, playing a big role in the advance of typewriters, gas lanterns, “China” dishes, bike gears, car gears, the airplane engine, and that metal thingy that measures your foot size for shoes.

This was also the birthplace of Gustav Stickley, the man who first developed his famous furniture here and started the Craftsman house movement.

It was one of the biggest beer brewing centers in the 1800s. Syracuse had more than 40 of them at its peak. Thankfully quite a few good craft brewers have emerged in this century too.

Take Amtrak here from Chicago, Toronto, or New York City, or pop over in a car from Niagara Falls or the Finger Lakes wineries. Here’s where to stay if you do.

Marriott Syracuse Downtown

When a tycoon bought this long-abandoned Hotel Syracuse building and restored it to its 1920s historic glory, the Marriott people kept telling him he was spending too much. It was getting too fancy to be a Marriott and execs worried that it turn out nicer than some of their JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties. It did actually and that’s good news for guests because the Marriott Syracuse Downtown is a stunning place to stay, with interiors from a “don’t make them like that anymore” time.

Marriott Syracuse Downtown Hotel

Interesting restaurants and bars with a story will keep you happy when the city gets one of its famous snowstorms.

Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel

Sheraton Hotel Syracuse

The closest hotel to the university is literally steps from campus. It has a view of that Hall of Languages building at the top of this post (built 1873) and the equally impressive Crouse College building (1884) from one side of the property. From the other side you see frat houses in historic homes much nicer than where most students will call home after graduation. This is a well-run modern hotel with good food, an indoor pool, and a bar with a billiards table and a few craft beers on tap.

Jefferson Clinton Hotel

Part of the Historic Hotels of America group, the Jefferson Clinton Hotel was built in 1927 and like the Hotel Syracuse, sat empty during the darkest years in this emptied industrial powerhouse before people and companies started coming back to downtown. It reopened in 2001 and is right in the heart of the city near Armory Square. You can walk to every great restaurant and bar in the central city from here, as well as all the museums and attractions.

The Parkview Hotel, BW Premier Collection

The “BW” in that name stands for Best Western, but this is no roadside motel. It’s in a historic building across from a park with a fountain and is walking distance to most of the city’s attractions. Room rates are often under $100, though visitors seeing the elegant entrance and lobby may think it’s much higher.

Hotel Skyler

Hotel Skyler Syracuse

The full name of this property is Hotel Skyler Syracuse Tapestry Collection by Hilton. Old time residents of the city would know the building by a different name: Temple Adath Yeshurun. That’s what it was for decades after being built a century ago. The LEED-certified property has plenty of character in the lobby with a fireplace and with 58 rooms it is not too sprawling. There’s a fitness center, sofa beds in each room, included breakfast, and a complimentary shuttle for rides within three miles.

Crowne Plaza Syracuse

You can’t miss the Crowne Plaza here since it has 279 rooms in a 20-story circular tower you can see from all over the city. You’ll get chain hotel predictability and a good skyline view, though get a high floor room if you don’t want to be looking at the interstate highway passing by. Built in 1969, it has operated under at least five names, but went through renovations before the latest sign went up. It’s walking distance from the universities and local hospitals, but has its own restaurant and bar for those often chilly nights when you don’t want to leave.

When deciding where to stay in Syracuse, there are plenty of other options of course, especially if you have a car and don’t mind being further out. To get the best rate and earn loyalty points that are easy to cash in for your next vacation, search here for hotels in Syracuse on Bonwi.

Article and photos by Hotel Scoop editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at two of the hotels here on different trips for article research and a conference. For more information on the area, see the official Visit Syracuse website.

7 Underrated Places in the US the Whole Family Will Love

Family Vacation Summer 2019

Family Vacation Summer 2019

While classic summer vacations like Disney, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Wisconsin Dells, and Cedar Point might all be fun, the options below take a path less traveled. Your family will make memories they won’t soon forget and you’ll find something for everyone.

San Diego

This pretty city has perfect weather year-round. The whole family will enjoy manageable summer heat with zero humidity.

The award-winning San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most reputable in the world, and is a must-stop for families. You’ll delight in seeing the giant pandas, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The northern frontier area boasts polar bears and arctic foxes while the African exhibit includes leopards, rare baboons, and lemurs.

Families can enjoy some of the nicest beaches in the country with activities like seal tours, snorkeling with sharks, and surf lessons. You can also do San Diego sand-free at the incredible Children’s Museum, Belmont Amusement Park, LEGOLand, Balboa Park, and countless other small attractions where your child can explore his or her interests.

Miami Beach

Florida beaches like Destin and Saint Petersburg are a hit with families. So are North Florida family hubs like Disney World and Cape Canaveral. But South Florida has something different to offer. Boasting the most tropical stateside beaches, the snorkeling in Miami Beach can’t be beat, as you’ll easily spot tons of colorful fish and aquatic life.

When the heat becomes too much at midday, head indoors for more fun. There’s an exceptional children’s museum between Miami and Miami Beach not far from Jungle Island – a great indoor spot to enjoy orangutans, lemurs, sloths, and other jungle creatures. They also feature indoor sky-diving simulation, escape rooms, and more. The Ritz-Carlton at Bal Harbor also has a well-loved children’s beach club experience, but there are many other family-friendly resorts and hotels to explore, too.

New Orleans

New Orleans =swathed in beads and feathers for Mardi Gras is not the only draw to this warm and diverse city. While your family will undoubtedly enjoy the delicious seafood, Creole cuisine and French pastries, the Big Easy boasts much more than great dining.

NOLA is loaded with historical museums, beautiful outdoor experiences, and family-friendly music experiences. Gator tours will thrill kids and adults of all ages, the enchanting train garden makes for a fun adventure inside the botanical gardens. No family vacation to New Orleans would be complete without a romp through Storyland Park, which brings your family’s favorite characters and fairytales to life. New Orleans also caters to families with kid-friendly book stores, kid-focused restaurants, and parks on every corner. Your crew might be begging to stay forever.

Anchorage

Alaska gets a bad rap as a freezing cold arctic experience featuring moose encounters. While the potential for moose encounters holds true all year round, Alaska can be downright springlike. It’s a solid choice for escaping the hight temps of July and August. Stay in Anchorage, and plan trips from there to Alaska’s many outdoor destinations.

At wildlife hubs like the Sea Life Center, the Wildlife Conservatory, and Denali National Park, your family will get the chance to see – and even interact with – tons of native wildlife. Sled dogs, sea otters and puffins are among the protected creatures you might meet and interact with on tours, while luckier travelers will see bison, moose, reindeer, and even bears. Tours of all kinds allow you to paddle, hike, or cruise through the various ecosystems that make up Alaska’s unique lands.

In Anchorage itself, your family will love exploring The Imaginarium Science Discovery Center at the Anchorage Museum or the Nancy Lake State Recreational Park. Grab a Discovery Duffel at the botanical gardens, stuffed with challenges and activities for kids, and relax at a cafe or poolside at your hotel.  

Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is an eastern Tennessee town you may or may not have ever heard of. For those in the know, the Smoky Mountains bring all of the enchantment and mystery of the western US mountains to the eastern hills.

If you’ve never been, one trip on the Ober Gatlinburg Aerial Tram will blow your mind. This tram will give you a bird’s eye view of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which is as incredible as it sounds. Even better, the end of the tram will drop you and your troops at a mountain-town amusement park. In nearby Anakeesta, you’ll enjoy mining for gems and traversing the treehouse park. By the way, mom and dad, the views are insane.

Other attractions in the area include Dollywood, exploring the Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not Museum and playing with penguins at Ripley’s Aquarium, entering a dessert dreamland at Crave Golf Club and more.   

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Lake Michigan is an attraction unto itself, with the usability and accessibility of a freshwater lake and the size and waves of a coastal beach vacation.

While America’s largest lake offers plenty of spots to stay and play, Sleeping Bear Dunes is among the most unique. This area boasts forests and dunes that invite adventurers to hike, bike, ride, tube, or buggy. The lake also offers constant entertainment from wading, swimming, and sandcastle building for little kiddos to jet skiing, hang-gliding, and learning to surf for older kids.

For the whole family, this area is spotted with old-town shops, ice cream parlors, and at night, the Lanphier Observatory is perfect for stargazing and forgetting to check your phone.

Olympic National Park

For an all-in-one outdoor excursion your family won’t soon forget, head to Washington state and the Olympic National Park. This national park is one of the most ecologically diverse as it includes mountains, lakes, ocean beaches, and temperate rainforests. Choose to camp in one of many pristine and remote campgrounds, opt for a lakeside resort like the Quinault lodge, or grab a hotel in a nearby staple city like Olympia, Shelton, or Port Angeles.

On the west side of the park, your crew can experience tidepools, whale watching, and sea otter spotting at the Kalaloch beaches. To the south, dip a kayak or canoe into Quinault lake, then hike out to see the world’s largest Sitka spruce tree. On the north side, from Port A, take a casual hike through the Hoh rainforest, where spots like the Hall of Mosses, bear-sightings along the salmon-filled Hoh River, or one of many gorgeous waterfalls will enchant you. From Port Angeles, you can also take a short drive to Hurricane Ridge to see acres and acres of wildflowers peppered with deer, foxes, and elk with a stunning mountain backdrop. (This is a great place to snowshoe, sled, and ski in the winter, too!)

If your family loves the water, take a dip in Lake Crescent – this lake is free of algae and is one of the deepest and cleanest in the country. You can also visit Sol Duc Hot Springs for an any-season soak. The Puget Sound, to the east, could round out your trip and, for families with time, nearby Olympia and Seattle offer tons of indoor excitement, too.

Where will you be traveling this summer?

Pigeon Forge Tennessee: Why Is It So Popular?

Pigeon Forge Tennessee show
The Great Smoky National Park is the reason so many visitors come to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Max Hartshorne photo.
The Great Smoky National Park is the reason so many visitors come to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Max Hartshorne photo.

Have you ever heard of Pigeon Forge Tennessee? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. Right next door to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and birthplace of the famous Dolly Parton, Pigeon Forge has much more to offer than its comical name would suggest.

More than 9 million, yes MILLION visitors see this small Tennessee city every year, as they drive through the famous national park that’s right next door.

Speaking of the famous country singer, Pigeon Forge houses the Dollywood theme park. Partly owned by Dolly herself, the park includes a roller-coaster, waterslides (for the summer months) and a plethora of Blue Grass music.

Hatfield and McCoy dinner theater in Pigeon Forge: Corny but so fun!
Hatfield and McCoy dinner theater in Pigeon Forge: Corny but so fun!

If country music isn’t your style, the Titanic Museum is a must see – the entire museum is shaped like the late ship. Discover 400 pre-discovery artifacts in twenty galleries.

For a hands-on experience, visit the WonderWorks Pigeon Forge. With over one-hundred hands-on science exhibits, the kids will be entertained with hours. That, paired with laser tag, rope courses, and a 6D motion ride creates a wonderland no one in the family will want to leave.

Later in the evening head over to the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner show. The home-style eats and family-friendly environment provide a great backdrop to dancing and comedy shows.   The only bummer: No booze in many of these shows and in most of the restaurants in Pigeon Forge. It’s a religious kind of a town.

Shopping is a must on The Island Pigeon Forge; a collection of shops, restaurants and amusement rides. Upcoming events for the Forge include the SEAA Fast Pitch World Series Opening Ceremony on July 14th and the Chalkfest on October 5th.

If you’re going to visit the mountain community of around 6,200 residents, you’re going to need a place to stay. Not a problem; with an average of nine million visitors a year, the town is prepared for most anything. If you don’t wind up Margaritaville Island Hotel, at least pay it a visit. With friendly staff, easy access to amenities and a classically themed tropical-travel environment (compasses and maps galore), you’ll never forget that you’re on vacation while staying here.

For an experience on the opposite end of the vacation spectrum, check out Black Fox Lodge Hidden Forge. Designed like a giant wilderness lodge (complete with water slide and hardwood flooring) imagine you’re on a hunting trip without ever entering the woods. 

Though it’s not New York City or Los Angeles, Pigeon Forge will wow and delight the wanderlust tourist interested in venturing down the non-traditional touristic path. Find hotels in Pigeon Forge and Knoxville TN and save when you use Bonwi points.

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!

“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.