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Travel News & Deals
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How to make smarter bids on travel at charity auctions

Wilson Fang had an exceptional weekend in Napa Valley that included a romantic bed-and-breakfast, dinner for two on the Wine Train and tastings at Beringer Vineyard. Best of all, he bought it below retail at a charity auction.

You can find great deals for travel at benefit auctions, but Fang knows that there can be pitfalls.

"You show up at events, you're plied with liquor, you're with convivial company and everybody is encouraging you to bid," said Fang, a 41-year-old San Franciscan who has bought at least five items as varied as hotel stays and a hot-air balloon ride and didn't use any of them.

"When you're there, you justify it to yourself," Fang said. "Then, in the cold gray light of your hangover the next morning, you realize, 'I bid on another weekend in Montana that I have no interest in.'"

Or, worse yet, you win something you really wanted only to discover a restriction that kills it for you.

"I bought a night at a bed-and-breakfast in Santa Barbara and then realized the...

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Travel risks, warnings and odd news from around the world

The U.S. State Department continues to warn travelers to defer all non-essential visits to Pakistan and strongly warns travelers about venturing to the Gaza Strip. A short-term alert has also been issued to Americans attending the Olympic Games in Russia. The State Department urges U.S. citizens there to be extra-attentive to their personal security and belongings. More info at (888) 407-4747 toll-free in the United States or, outside the country, (202) 501-4444.


Balkan unrest

Anti-government violence appears to be spreading in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the nation struggles economically. Demonstrators are venting their fury over the Balkan nation's almost 40% unemployment and its rampant corruption.


Stormy Britain

Two months of rain and storms have drenched Britain. In the latest flooding, Royal Marines helped evacuate homes in southwest England after flood defenses were breached.


Park poaching

One by one, the bushy-tailed residents of Moscow's parks have been disappearing. The...

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Travel the world with photographer Gray Malin, at a Le Meridien near you

Gray Malin photographs sites most travelers never see. That's because the L.A. photographer creates his own vision of places around the world and then goes to work with his camera.

Now you'll be able to see his view of the world 24/7 in lobbies of Le Meridien hotels worldwide. The two have partnered to bring fresh images to travelers who appreciate fine art photography in an unexpected setting.

"My work is a far cry from Apple computer screen savers," Malin says. "I want to create work that makes someone feel joy, and stop for just a moment and escape to that destination."

The #FollowMe campaign, as it's called, will join Malin's photos in a video art installation that sometimes features stills and sometimes features video clips of the photographer at work.

And the photos extend to hotel key cards. Each will bear one of Malin's images, which guests may take with them.

Malin's subjects vary widely, from wide aerial shots of seaside bathers and skiers on slopes that make you want to jump...

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Still room on heavy-metal Monsters of Rock Cruise in April

How much rock and heavy metal can one cruise ship take? The Monsters of Rock Cruise in April promises to deliver at least 35 bands during the four-day cruise from Miami to the Bahamas.

Queensryche, Krokus, Stryper, Lita Ford, Black Star Riders, Tesla and others will be performing on the MSC Divina during the April 18 to 22 sailing.

There are still 34 cabins still available on the floating rock fest based on Monsters of Rock festivals at Castle Donington in England that began in 1980, an announcement says.

The cruise, now in its fourth year, will feature events such as the Hot Tub Time Machine '80s Prom, a competition called So You Think You Can Shred?, Cooking With Rock Stars, a Rock Anthem Fan Jam and more.

The cruise kicks off with two nights of parties and performances at the Magic City Casino in Miami. Queensryche and Lillian Axe will perform April 15 and Stryper, Tyketto, Gabbie Rae will perform April 17.

Cabin prices start at $1,099 per person, based on double occupancy. It...

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How to earn points toward Starwood hotel stays with Uber rides

Uber riders can start racking up loyalty program points toward stays at Starwood Hotels & Resorts under a new agreement between the mega-hotel company and the San Francisco-based ride-sharing service.

Starwood, which operates nine brands,, including Sheraton, Aloft, Westin, W and St. Regis, announced the new partnership Wednesday, the first of its kind for Uber, the announcement said.

Uber riders in the 290 cities worldwide in which the service operates will receive 1 point (called Starpoints) in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program for every dollar spent. (Total is capped at $10,000 in a year.)

You'll receive 2 points per dollar if you use Uber during a Starwood hotel stay.

Starwood's premium members receive the same $1 for 1 point for Uber rides. But they accrue more points for rides taken while they're at a Starwood hotel: Gold/Platinum level members receive 3 points per dollar and Platinum With 75 Nights receive 4 points per dollar.


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One-bedroom condos on Maui starting at $189 for spring, early summer

Guests at six condo resorts in the upscale community of Wailea in south Maui could save as much as 30% on their accommodations in spring and early summer. 

Additional specials can even include a free rental car.

Destination Resorts Hawaii is offering its E Komo Mai — Hawaiian for “welcome” — package April 1-June 30.

The least expensive accommodations are offered at Wailea Grand Champions, where one-bedroom villas with a garden view cost $189 a night with the special, down from the usual $270. Two-bedroom units with a golf course view drop to $249 from $356. All condos include full kitchens and private lanais.

At the other end of the spectrum: the luxurious Wailea Beach Villas, which get top marks from both Conde Nast Traveler  and TripAdvisor. With the package, three-bedroom villas, each with its own plunge pool, rent for $1,099 a night.

Regardless of property, all guests booking the E Komo Mai package will receive $85 in dining certificates for Wailea restaurants, $70 in spa...

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