Travel News & Deals
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Nevada: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to open at Lake Tahoe in January

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe is set to open in January. It took $60 million to renovate the former site of the Horizon Resort Casino in Stateline, Nev. The redo brings 539 rooms -- and yes, an Elvis Suite! — new restaurants and bars, live concerts areas inside and out, and a casino with slot machines and table games.

Though no official opening date was announced, reservations are being accepted on the hotel's website starting Jan. 9. (I found rooms available for that night starting at $149 plus tax.) Packages include Rock

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Cruising overseas? Don't forget to factor in the visa fees

Question: We signed up on Oceania for a cruise to India and the east coast of Africa. We subsequently got a bill for $716 per person for visa fees for four countries — India (where we will spend five days), Kenya (10 hours), Tanzania (nine hours) and Mozambique (eight hours). We were told that all the visas were necessary and that we would not be allowed onboard without them, even if we chose not to go ashore at those countries. I do not mind paying a reasonable amount for a service, but these charges seem exorbitant. It feels as though the cruise line did little for our $1,432. Is it possible that this is common practice in the cruise industry?

R. Huber

Glendale

 

Answer: Huber has stumbled on one of those unanticipated costs that, as travelers, we sometimes forget to calculate, and that's visa charges.

A visa is the official OK for you to enter a country. Some countries don't require them for U.S. citizens; others do. Obtaining a visa can be complicated by whether there is an issuing...

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75 places to dine on the cheap in San Francisco, according to Michelin

Looking for inexpensive but great meals in San Francisco and environs? Here are 75.

Almost everyone is familiar with Michelin's star-rating system, but maybe not its Bib selections. The 2015 Bib Gourmands, as they're called, singled out 75 restaurants in the San Francisco area that are judged to have excellent food at affordable prices.

For those traveling on a budget, these rankings may prove more valuable than Michelin's top three-star awards. Restaurants make the Bib list if a two-course meal and glass of wine or dessert costs no more than $40 per person (tax and tip not included), a Michelin statement says.

The company's anonymous food inspectors vet each site, just as they do for star-worthy eateries.

Newcomers to the Bib list for 2015 include Anchor Oyster Bar at 579 Castro St., a small seafood restaurant and fish market known for its clam chowder and fresh oysters; and Chino at 3198 16th St., which serves up Asian fusion fare with menu items like "Cucumbers, All Busted Up" and...

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Gear: This briefcase holds a bundle of electronics

The bright red satiny linings seduced us but the myriad spacious compartments laid out oh-so-intelligently won us over.

Into the Booq Cobra Brief went the 16-inch laptop computer, the full-size and mini tablets, the smartphone, the e-book reader and a vast supply of cables, adapters, extension cords, headphones and external battery chargers.

Every item had its own pouch, zippered pocket or padded compartment, which still left plenty of places to stash business papers, a few paperbacks, magazines, assorted files, folders, maps and travel documents, plus pens, pencils, styluses, reading glasses and keys.

Booq’s newest bag is all business but it’s also a stylish pleasure to tote, either by the padded double-grab handles or the adjustable shoulder strap, which has a slim silicone strip that reduces sliding.

The black ballistic nylon exterior has a water-repellent coating. You’ll pay for all the classy tailoring and luscious linings -- it lists for $295 -- but the Cobra Brief works hard for...

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Retreat.guru zeros in on spiritual and wellness getaways, info

Forget about your latest overindulgence. There are yoga and wellness retreats all over the world that have better views than your local gym.

Name: Retreat.guru

What it does: This website lists 6,751 spiritual and wellness retreats, centers and teachers in 58 countries and 785 cities, including Bali, British Columbia, California, Colorado, Costa Rica and Peru.

What's hot: Although the retreat destinations are compelling — a seven-day women's surf and yoga vacation in Bali or a yoga getaway in the Sacred Valley of Peru — the site also allows you to discover teachers and destinations you might not have heard about. Scroll down to the "Hot Topics" section on the home page and find key categories such as Meditation, Travel Retreat, Yoga Teacher Training, Plant Medicine or Wellness Retreat.

What's not: There are teacher reviews, but I couldn't find reviews for retreats or centers. As a newbie to the retreat world, I wanted to read more about travelers' experiences. When you tap on a...

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Travel letters: Try a new holiday tradition: staying home

Stay home for the holidays

Regarding "It Might Be Too Late to Land Holiday Deal" by Catharine Hamm, Oct. 12: What amazes me about articles like this is, why does everyone have to go home every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and maybe New Year's Eve? Why can't everyone tell Grandma they'll be staying home this year? Save yourself the hassle of spending two, three or more days in the airport, missed flights, snowed-in or canceled flights, all for some turkey? Skype Grandma and tell her you won't be coming home this year!

Charles P. Martin

Los Angeles

 

Irish roots

I was thrilled to read the article about the Beara Peninsula and surrounding towns ["Wild, and Wondrous" by Margo Pfeiff, Oct. 5]. My dad, Bert Power, was born in Castletownbere, Ireland. While I was growing up, he talked about his childhood and the beauty of the countryside almost every week. There was not another place like it.

As many other Irishmen who sought work when they immigrated, he came to Los Angeles and joined...

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