Travel News & Deals
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Video: Huge dunes, cool pool, sudden rain in Death Valley

Here's a video about huge dunes, a cool pool -- and what happens when rain hits Death Valley.

Most of it was shot in two dramatic spots, which lie about 27 miles from each other in Death Valley National Park.

One is Mesquite Flat, where sand dunes rise more than 100 feet from the desert valley’s floor, making for memorable sunrises and sunsets – especially when there’s unusual weather involved.

The second spot is the pool at the Inn at Furnace Creek -- probably one of the most tempting pools in California, given the miles of bare, dry, sun-baked desert that surround it.

And don’t miss the surprise treat at the end, when the video returns to the sand dunes.

“A Minute Away” is a video series in which nothing much happens -- except you see the world, and hear it, and get a respite from workaday life. We’ve covered Machu Picchu, Red Square, the Yucatan, the Alamo, an Alaska float plane and the reading room of the New York Public Library, among other places. We add a new minute just about...

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Deal: 35% discount at all-inclusive resort in Mexico's Riviera Maya

Families and couples looking for an affordable all-inclusive getaway may do well to check out an offer from Barcelo Hotels & Resorts. The company will take 35% off the cost of staying at the Barcelo Maya Beach Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, on the Yucatan Peninsula.

The deal: The Barcelo Maya Beach Resort is one of five hotels at the Riviera Maya complex. Together, there are more than 2,700 rooms and 20 restaurants that share a stretch of private beach and swimming pools.

The 35% discount applies to five hotel's all-inclusive program, which covers meals (buffet and specialty restaurants), drinks and sports activities and entertainment at the site. (You can get this deal at all five hotels at the complex.)

It also comes with resort credits. Guests who stay as many as four nights receive a $1,200 credit. (There are restrictions on how the credit may be used. For example, you may spend $200 toward a room upgrade or $100 toward a private dinner on the beach.)

When: There's no deadline for...

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Airfare: $297 round trip on United to Baltimore for spring

If Baltimore, a.k.a. Charm City, or the nation’s capital figure into your travel plans this spring, here’s a $297 round-trip fare, including all taxes and fees, to Baltimore, about 35 miles from downtown Washington. It’s on United from LAX and requires a 21-day advance purchase.

Travel is for April 13 through June 5, but you must purchase this fare, which is subject to availability, by March 5.

Info: United, (800) 864-8331.

Source: Airfarewatchdog

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel.

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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 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 Follow Me 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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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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