Cuba Hotel Awards – A Way Through Excellence

Looking for more than good-value hotels in Cuba? Discover a selection of Cuba hotels that have received several prizes and awards, granted by international tour operators and tourism specialists. These leading facilities could be a fine choice for your perfect Cuba holiday or vacation if you trust well-known experts’ criteria.

One of the most prestigious lists of the best hotels worldwide is The Gold List of Condé Nast Traveler. This annual list includes a selection of the hotels around the world that have the best service, rooms, food, ambiance and design, location and leisure facilities. The Saratoga hotel, an Old Havana hotel, received a high rating in the readers’ travel awards 2006 survey, since it was at 24 in the hot list 2006 of the 60 best new hotels in the world within the category “Best for Ambiance/Design”. You can find this distinguished facility in a prime location opposite the Capitol at Havana City. Art lovers will appreciate the Cuban art in all the public spaces of the property and the “mélange” of colonial and contemporary styles at bedrooms and lounges.

If you look further examples of hotel excellence then you should consider theWorld Travel Awards, voted by travel agents worldwide. They were established in 1993 to acknowledge, reward and celebrate the achievements in all sectors of the global travel industry. These awards are regarded as the “Oscars” of the tourism industry by The Wall Street Journal. Cuba hotels winners at 2007 and 2008 were Hotel Nacional de Cuba as Cuba’s Leading Hotel and Sandals Royal Hicacos Resort & Spa was the Leading Resort. A classy Cuban hotel at the Cuban capitol city and a gorgeous beach resort in one of the best beaches of the island and of the Caribbean, these are the choices of tens of thousands of travel experts, such as travel agents and other travel professionals.

Also Thomas Cook, one of the most important tour operators in the world, recently accorded its Marque of Excellence Award to hotel Paradisus Rio de Oro Resort & Spa, a hotel which received several important prizes in 2008. For those seeking blissful vacations, here you will find a piece of your own paradise. This elegant hotel, located right alongside Playa Esmeralda beach in the province of Holguin, has received for the fifth time the Marque of Excellence Award (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008) due to the quality ratings granted by clients. Since it is a 5-star Ultra All-Inclusive hotel that was conceived for adults over 18 years, it is more suitable for romantic getaways, weddings, honeymoons, events and vacations with group of friends.

Plus, Trip Advisor, the largest travel destinations and tips guide in the Web, granted this hotel in Cuba two Travelers Choice 2008 Awards (The Best All-Inclusive in the World and the Most Romantic Hotel in Latin America and the Caribbean). These popular distinctions in the tourist industry represent the views of millions of travelers that have selected this hotel for its outstanding service.

Moreover, Paradisus Río de Oro hotel received the Gold Medal 2008 Award accorded by clients of First Choice, the leading British wholesale company. Also in 2006, the Paradisus Rio de Oro was awarded the Travelers’ Choice Prize in the category of Most Outstanding Hidden Jewels of the Caribbean. Want a better reason to go there in your next Cuba vacations?

If you prefer more responsible and ecologic hotels then you should try Brisas Guardalavaca. This Cuba hotel has won the important award “Green Planet Award” presented by the European Tour Operator Kuoni. This distinction is given to the hotels contracted by this tour operator with relevant results in terms of Environmental Care. This facility has also received the National Basic Environmental Award presented by the Ministry of Technology and Environment in Cuba. So if your catchphrase is “a better and a greener world is possible” then you should consider Brisas Guardalavaca in the top of your Cuba hotels choices.

Also for environment enthusiasts there is a fine resort at Varadero beach, the Iberostar Tainos hotel, which has won an Environmental Hotel Award in 2004/05. Singles, couples and families will appreciate the good four-star value of this recently built hotel, set on a beautiful stretch of beach surrounded by tropical gardens.

Other Cuba hotels have won international distinctions like Meliá Las Antillas, which was awarded the Primo Neckermann Reisen 2008 Award thanks to the rankings given by clients of the important German tour operator Neckermann, part of Thomas Cook group. This property ranked among the 100 best and most popular hotels in the world in 2008! So if you want to experience a truly unforgettable holiday you should look after this offer, an All-Inclusive Superior 4-star resort especially recommended for weddings, honeymoons, tourist groups and circuits.

Also the magnificent hotel Paradisus Princesa del Mar was granted the Marque of Excellence Award 2007 by leading tour operator Thomas Cook, in recognition of the hotel’s high service standards and quality of its accommodations. What’s important about this award is that clients are the ones who assess the hotels by responding to Thomas Cook’s satisfaction polls, which measure the service, facilities and quality of the accommodations. It is conceived for adults aged 18 and over and it is highly recommended for those who want to spend some time in romantic environments with extraordinary scenic views and total privacy.

Deciding for any holiday is not an easy thing and planning where to stay is sometimes one of the most stressful parts of planning a vacation. So be a wise traveler and follow the expert’s opinion on your next retreats in Cuba.

Finding Money for Travel – 3 Steps to Get You on the Road Fast

Some people live paycheck to paycheck. I live trip to trip.

The world calls my name, and I love it. Places I’ve never been, exotic places with unpronounceable names. Water so clear you can see the shadow of the boat, rippling on the sand at the bottom of the sea. An ancient walled castle, crumbling on a craggy hill. Bustling cities flashing in the night or forested roads wandering deep into nowhere… I want them all. I want to breathe the air, walk the paths, meet the people, and eat the food.

Unfortunately, that all takes money. And since I have a limited budget, getting money together for the next adventure is always on my mind.

Here are 3 steps that get me on the road. Use them to fast track your next journey outward.

1. Make it real.

When your heart connects, your travel changes from being a vague “someday, somewhere” into being a real part of your actual future. Suddenly this trip is urgent, pressing. It’s part of what you need to do, to be who you really are. And it’s do-able!

So make it real. Create a Pinterest page, develop a favorites folder, keep items of interest. Think specifics. What time of year would you want to go? Rainy season or dry? Any festivals you want to see? How much of the language can you learn before you go? Cover a poster board with pictures from the places that interest you, travel quotes that interest you. Work on an itinerary, research any dangers. Compare hotels, apartments and hostels. Put a local news site on your toolbar.

Immersion begins now.

2. Get real with money.

You need a realistic financial goal – not one that will leave you stranded or one that will scare you off.

Every trip has three basic money requirements: getting there, staying there, and living there. “Getting there” is usually the biggest expense, but even if you fly, you can often get better deals if you stay focused. The internet is full of good resources for cheap airfares. You can fly into a European hub city on an international carrier, for instance, and then take a low-cost airline to nearby countries. Play with it!

“Sleeping there” can be a huge expense, or it can be cheap, even free, depending on your choices. Willing to work for your room? Stay in hostels, or in an old convent with nuns? You can do it. You just have to do the research.

“Living there” is the cost of your daily life expenses, as you live somewhere else. Eating is part of living there, along with admissions, tips and side trips. Nights out for drinks, buses and rental cars are all part of living there. Explore local sources for in-country trips. They’re often less expensive and more interesting simply because they’re less “Americanized”. Live like a local in an apartment and cook some meals at home. Grocery shopping can be an adventure in another culture!

3. Make friends with your savings.

The money you save is not “money I don’t get to spend.” It’s “the trip I’m getting ready to take.” It’s for you. Own it.

Name your trip – “Bali for New Years”, for instance, or “Eastern Europe with Jack and Ellie”. Make a spreadsheet, or better yet, get an actual ledger or a notebook, and put colored tabs on it. Keep track of your savings in your ledger. When you enter an amount, record it in one of your three basic categories – getting there, sleeping there, or living there. You may want to designate a little for each area, each time you save, or finish one and start on the next – that’s my usual system.

The big amount you put in first, directly from your paycheck – that could be transportation money. The money you make from overtime, or pick up from babysitting for your neighbor’s kid on a Saturday – that could be one night in the over-water bungalow. When you stay home and eat cereal instead of going out with friends, and put the money into your account – that’s dinner on the beach.

To encourage yourself even more, recognize how much you’re saved as you go along. Basic airfare – check. Between country hops – check. Hotel in Singapore – check. Hostel in Bali – check. Romantic dinner on the beach – check. You get the idea.

Naming things helps you remember what really matters. You may want a new car. You may want to go to Vegas with the wedding party. Or out for mid-week dinner and drinks – every week. And those are good things. But you probably can’t do all of them, and still go on that fabulous trip.

You get to decide. If it’s between dinner out tonight or vague travel sometime, we’ll probably choose going out tonight. But if it’s between dinner out tonight, and hitting my hotel goal tonight when I put that $25 into my trip savings, I may very well decide to stay home and eat cereal!

Planning for your favorite things, learning about your new place, seeing your resources build – it’s an exciting part of the trip. And before you know it, you’ll be off to live your adventure in a whole new place.

Dr. Deborah Kukal is a licensed psychologist with a broad sense of her home in the world. She is Board Certified in Health Psychology, and she writes on health, sleep, spirituality and meditation, as well as life enrichment, travel and current events.

London Named World Destination of the Year at the World Travel Awards

Considerably, on the fifth consecutive occasion, London has been chosen as the ‘World’s Leading Destination’ at the high-prestige ‘World Travel Awards (WTA)’. Although there was a stiff competition between the world’s so-called top-notch hospitable cities including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town and Sydney, the British capital amazingly bagged the award at the end. London’s accolade follows the last month’s phenomenal news that Britain is the world’s fourth most admired country, lagging behind the USA, Germany and France.

In the beginning of the year, tourist arrivals in the metropolis rose to 27 million, thanks to a few prominent events, which saw an influx of international tourists as well as to the excitement builds before the 2012 Olympics. In addition, the capital boasts arrays of world class tourist venues which spellbind visitors all around the year. Not to forget, Christmas which every year sees flocks of people from all around struggling to find accommodation in jam-packed London.

World Travel Awards is the biggest and the most prestigious awards programme in the world of travel industry. WTA rummages around excellence across every sector of the international travel and tourism industry and picks out only the elites from the widespread industry. Also known as “The Oscars of the Travel Industry “, the World Travel Awards is the supreme travel accolade. From last 17 years, WTA is constantly in action to elevate the standards of customer service and the travel industry’s overall performance.

After a substantial year-long hunt, the World Travel Awards settled on their award winners and honoured all the frontrunners in the capital’s Grosvenor House hotel in the spectacular Grand Final Ceremony. A few hotel groups having UK properties including the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, JW Marriott, Holiday Inn Express, von Essen and Ritz Carlton were also awarded at the programme.

Without doubt, the World Travel Awards has escalated London’s prominence in the world travel and tourism industry by honouring it yet again. Even if the capital has owned numerous influential awards so far, this award has its unique importance.

Edinburgh Voted Top City in the UK in Conde Nast Readers’ Travel Awards

The Conde Nast magazine portfolio is one of the most prestigious collections of household names, including, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and GQ. Its travel magazine, the Conde Nast Traveller, rates some of the most luxurious and esteemed holiday destinations and accommodations in the world, the results of which culminate in the annual awards events such as the Readers’ Travel Awards.

This year, Turkey came out on top as the overall winner, followed closely by Egypt and Australia in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. In the UK category however, it was Edinburgh which beat off tough competition from London and Liverpool to claim the award for best UK city.

The scoring system is based on “an index of satisfaction with travel facilities and services, scored out of a maximum of 100.” Edinburgh received extremely high marks across the board, most notably in areas such as aesthetics and architecture (93.72), as well as user-friendliness (90.46).

Edinburgh has improved on last year’s performance, when it came 2nd in the same competition. The accolade is not the first time the city has been recognised for its superior visitor experience; in 2008, the capital was named as one of the world’s top 10 cities by travel magazine Wanderlust, and has been voted as the UK’s favourite city break by Guardian/Observer readers for 10 years running.

The only other Scottish city to appear in the top 10 was Glasgow, coming in at number 5. Within top 15 UK business hotel category, the only non-London hotel in the winning bunch was The Balmoral in Edinburgh, a further testament to the esteem in which this glorious city is held.

With a veritable mix of cultural, culinary, and visual splendour, the city’s art galleries, top drawer restaurants, vibrant night-life, and luxury hotels in Edinburgh city centre, it is no wonder it appeals to so many cross sections of society.

The current Edinburgh marketing campaign, ‘This is My Edinburgh’, features a real-life mix of Edinburgh residents and their perspective of their home-town. With the release of the Conde Nast Readers Travel Awards, they have one more aspect to be proud of.

The World’s Most Entertaining Airports

It’s hard to believe the words “entertaining” and “airport” can co-exist in the same sentence. When I’m thinking about an entertaining place to kick-back and have some fun, an airport generally doesn’t come to mind. I think of hours of boredom, stale sandwiches, cramped seating and dodgy wi-fi that hasn’t been updated since the 90′s.

Luckily, an increasing number of airports are making an effort to liven up the pre-flight experience by providing a variety of wonderful, sometimes weird, distractions to keep travelers entertained.

The following are five of the world’s airports where entertainment and leisure are taking off:

5. Munich, Germany

Munich is famed for its Oktoberfest festival, and the airport brings a sample of this fun to thirsty travelers. A Bavarian-style tavern complete with its own brewery, live music and a traditional beer garden, serves over 110,000 gallons of homemade beer from its home in the airport terminal.

4. Sydney, Australia

Potted plants are a common adornment in many airport areas, but the Qantas First Lounge at Sydney International Airport is home to a 30-meter vertical garden, containing 8,400 plants. Business travelers can also hit the books in the airport’s business center and library.

3. Seoul-Incheon

Along with several awards for the world’s best airport in air service quality, Seoul-Incheon also offers a wide selection of fun activities and facilities. An ice rink, casino, spa and movie theatre are just a few of the cool distractions offered. Travelers can also take a 5-minute shuttle to tee off for a relaxing round on the airport’s 18-hole Incheon Club Golf course.

2. Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee: Known throughout the world as Music City. Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash have all been fixtures of the city’s famed recording studios. Playing on its lively musical scene, Nashville Airport puts on regular live concerts for travelers. Four stages within the airport host upwards of 100 free events every year.

1. Singapore

Singapore’s Changi Airport has been crowned the best in the world for the fourth time in 14 years at the prestigious World Airport Awards in Geneva. Realizing that travel can be stressful, the airport was designed to be an open, airy space with lots of greenery, outdoor access and comfortable seating.

The airport’s incredible amenities include a butterfly garden, rooftop pool, movie theatres, spas, onsite nature trail, interactive art gallery and a four-story slide for children! Free city tours are available to any passenger with a layover of five hours or more.

Kristopher Hewkin
JNR Incorporated
Engaging employees, increasing channel sales, and building customer loyalty through strategic incentives including incentive travel, meetings, events, conferences, prepaid incentive and reward cards, promotional products, and merchandise in conjunction with marketing, communications, and advertising.