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 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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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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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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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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CheapAir to start selling Cuba airfares online to U.S. travelers

CheapAir plans to be the first online travel website to start selling airfares to Cuba directly to U.S. fliers in a single transaction.

The CheapAir announcement Thursday (today) says it has seen "a surge in search volumes for travel to Cuba" since President Obama in mid-January eased restrictions on Americans traveling to the island nation.

Travel search engine Kayak earlier this month added searchable flights to Cuba and 300 Cuban hotels to its website.

It's another step for travelers who have wanted to go as individuals during the U.S. embargo imposed on the country half a century ago. But remember: If you're American, you must have an authorized reason to go. 

Before the rule changes, Americans could go with licensed groups on people-to-people visits (which are still available) or fly by way of another country like Mexico or Canada which allows flights to Havana. Some travelers did that to circumvent rules; others had individual licenses that had to be applied for and granted....

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